There has been a week and a half since the 2019 NHL Draft, which was held June 21-22 at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, which gave me some time to reflect on the guys who were picked in the draft. I decided to analyze one team in particular, the Carolina Hurricanes, one of the NHL’s biggest surprises last season.
Last year, the Canes, as fans like to call them, made a successful run to the Eastern Conference Finals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, beating the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals and division rival New York Islanders along the way.
What positions did the Canes need to address in the draft, given the fact that they received contributions from everyone up and down the roster in last year’s run?
The Canes focused on the offensive side of the puck, as they took eight wingers/centers. The pick that had fans the most excited was probably center Ryan Suzuki, who the Canes took with the 28th pick in the first round out of the Barrie Colts of the OHL. Suzuki, a former teammate of current Hurricane Andrei Svechnikov, is a guy known for his playmaking ability, something the Canes have been searching for ever since former captain Eric Staal left for the New York Rangers in 2016 (he is now with the Minnesota Wild). With the Barrie Colts last season, Suzuki recorded a team-high 75 points (25 goals, 50 assists).
The Canes added to their goaltending depth with one of their two second-round picks, adding Russian goalie Pyotr Kochetkov out of the Kontinental Hockey League. Kochetkov recorded a .930 save percentage last year with HK Ryazan, a VHL team which is an affiliate of KHL team Sibir Novosibirsk.
With their second second-round pick (44th overall), the Canes took left winger Jamieson Rees, who currently plays with the Sarnia Sting. Rees registered 10 goals and 22 assists last year with the Sting.
The Canes selected a variety of players over the remaining of the draft, as they took six more offensive guys and three defensemen. The offensive guys the Canes took were left winger Patrik Puistola, Tuukka Tieksola, Kiril Slepets, Kevin Wall, Blake Murray, and Arvid Costmar. The defensive guys the Canes took were Anttoni Honka, Domenick Fensore, and Cade Webber.
On top of their active draft, the Canes are planning to match the Canadiens’ offer sheet for star center Sebastian Aho, and they already signed starting goalie Petr Mrazek, who played a big part in their playoff run last year.
If you are a Canes fan like myself, you should be very excited. The boys in Red, White, and Black look poised for another playoff run.