New Regime in Carolina
This week the Hurricanes took a huge step forward as a franchise when they selected Bill Peters as their next head coach. He will be only the fourth coach hired in the teams history. The new coach will now join the recently appointed General Manager Ron Francis in making a decision on which player the team will pick with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NHL draft. Last season Ryan Murphy and Elias Lindholm played big minutes for the NHL team, but left the AHL team looking for new talent to mold. This draft will be a good time for the new coach and GM to replenish that system and add some future talents to the organization.
Brendan Perlini is my top pick for the Hurricanes this season. I think the OHL forward from the Niagara IceDogs will be a perfect fit for the team. The Hockey Writers draft writers compared Brendan Perlini to NHL player Bobby Ryan in their Draft Prospect Profile. Perlini has a huge frame standing around 6’3’’, and weighing about 205 pounds. He has great physical frame for a young player, and he still has time to gain more size. He has killer speed for his size, and has a great natural hockey sense when it comes to scoring and making the correct pass in all three zones. He plays the wing and would fit perfectly on a line with Jordan Staal in a few years. He is still pretty raw, and won’t be on the NHL roster for a few years, but will help add a decent prospect to the developmental system. Below is a little video of what kind of skills Perlini can bring to the Hurricanes down the road.
Nikolaj EhlersNext prospect that peaks my interest for the team is Nikolaj Ehlers who is a super skilled winger that plays in the QMJHL with the Halifax Mooseheads. Ehlers might be one of the fastest wing players in this draft. Ehlers is smaller than other targets for this years draft, but he makes up with it with his incredible speed. He might be a few years away from starting in the NHL, but the draft experts at The Hockey Writers compare him to Patrick Kane which makes him a lot more interesing. He also already has a great shot and knows how to find the back off the net. He is 5’10” and 175 pounds, and I think he is just a little two small for the Hurricanes at this time. The Hurricanes have depth in their quick smaller forwards, and the team needs to starting adding more size to their depth. Here is Ehlers scoring two goals for his QMJHL team this year.
I don’t expect to see a lot of defenseman go early in the draft this year besides Aaron Ekblad who should be the first player selected this year. Haydn Fleury should be the next defenseman to come off of the board. He might be a few years away from making an NHL roster but he has the size and skill to grow into a great two-way defenseman. The Hockey Writers Draft Profiles compare him to a more advanced Ben Lovejoy and consider him to be a decent second line pairing in the future. Fleury played with Red Deer Rebels in the WHL last season as well as making a few appearances for the Canada U18 team. He has good defensive instincts, and knows how to use his big frame. He was seen as a leader on his Red Deer team last year makes him a plus. If the Hurricanes decide to go defensive with their first pick, I don’t like them staying at seven. The Hurricanes definitely go offense with their first pick, but Fleury is still an interesting prospect if the team decides to move back in the draft. Fleury isn’t the most exciting offensive prospect but here are some of his best moments from the 2013-2014 season.
Who Will They Pick?
The Hurricanes need to draft a big power forward that can compliment Jordan Staal in the future. Staal needs some help offensively and getting him a big winger offensive winger could get the numbers he put up in Pittsburgh. Nikolaj Ehlers may be a great player in the NHL down the line but looking at the team has enough small, speedy players like Jeff Skinner, Nathan Gerbe, and Elias Lindholm. The Hurricanes need more proven veteran defenseman and I don’t think adding a player like Fleury is major for the team right now. Perlini is the best option. Some scouts say he is the biggest threat of being a draft bust, but you can say that about basically any prospect in the top ten. Perlini might be two or three years away from making an impact on the NHL roster but having someone of his size and skill set in the waiting will give the Hurricanes a big weapon in their system. If Brendan Perlini grows into the player he supposed to he will be able to make an impact when he is ready in the league, and the current youth on the roster should help take some pressure off of rushing the prospect into the NHL squad.
Philip is a Sports Journalist covering the Pittsburgh Penguins. Duquesne University Journalism Grad 2013.