Flyers: 3 Young Hurricanes Trade Targets

Here’s another contending team that should be interested in these Philadelphia Flyers players who will likely be on the move. This time it’s the Carolina Hurricanes, whose Stanley Cup window is open, and it is the season to go for it and think about the future later.

The Hurricanes have several veterans leading their American Hockey League (AHL) team, but the Flyers will be looking a bit younger and not players in their late 20s who have excelled in the minors but can’t translate it to the NHL. Here we will look at one younger player from the AHL – who has had a little taste of the NHL – before we turn to Europe, where some of the Hurricanes’ top prospects are playing this season.

Jack Drury

The first and only Hurricane on this list of potential trade targets playing in North America is Jack Drury. The Flyers want players who could be impactful next season but also players with the potential to become very good. Drury is a former second-round draft pick from the 2018 NHL Draft and has the required experience at different levels to make him ready to make the jump to the NHL. He is 22 and is putting up solid numbers in the AHL with 10 goals and 29 points in 43 games. He also had a short two-game trial with the Hurricanes when they needed bodies, and he scored two goals.

Jack Drury Carolina Hurricanes
Jack Drury, Carolina Hurricanes (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Drury was a finalist for rookie of the year in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) in 2020-21, putting up 10 goals and 30 points in 41 games. Behind Seth Jarvis, who made the jump to the NHL this season and is likely one of the Hurricanes’ untouchables, Drury is a great option to target.

Hurricanes’ general manager Don Waddell had this to say about Drury: “Jack is an outstanding two-way forward who perfectly fits our system and plays the right way. We expect him to be an important piece for the Hurricanes in the very near future.” Waddell is particularly high on Drury, but he also may be willing to trade him if the player in return can give them the best chance to bring home the Cup this season. Drury can help out in any situation and is a strong skater.

Ville Koivunen

The first of the two Finnish players to watch in the Hurricanes’ system is Ville Koivunen. He has the potential to be a game-breaker and is already looking like he will be a steal as a second-round selection in the 2021 NHL Draft. He always wants the puck and can control the play. He doesn’t mind taking on players and testing them and is described as having pure, unrelenting skills. He is also a very smart player but might take a couple of years to reach the NHL. Once he does, he should be playing at an even higher level than he is now, rounding into a complete player.

Koivunen played in both of Finland’s games at the World Junior Championships before it was postponed, scoring two goals and four points. He’s played in Finland’s U20, scoring five points in 11 games, and Karpat in Liiga, putting up 11 goals and 28 points in 42 games. He is one of the best young players in Finland and the Hurricanes’ system and should be on the Flyers’ radar.

Noel Gunler

Noel Gunler is another former second-round pick by the Hurricanes who has the potential to be an impactful forward in the NHL. He possesses a powerful and dangerous shot and great hockey sense. He isn’t the type of player to carry the puck into the zone and set up an opportunity or to retrieve pucks. He would have to be paired with one or two players who are great at that aspect of the game so he can succeed in putting the puck in the back of the net.

Luckily, someone like Travis Konecny can retrieve pucks if that is the Flyers’ future line combination. Gunler is a tricky player without the puck and can find the open areas to create time and space for himself once the puck does get to him. If that happens, he will more often than not make you pay for it.

Noel Gunler Lulea HF
Noel Gunler, Lulea HF (Photo by RvS.Media/Monika Majer/Getty Images)

It may take another two years before Gunler becomes a truly impactful player for the Flyers, but with time to mature and become a more consistent player, he could be. The inconsistencies in his play could be incentive for the Hurricanes to give him up easier than another prospect.

Oliwer Kaski

Many players have needed a little more time in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) before making their way over to the NHL. Artemi Panarin and Kirill Kaprizov both came over in their mid-20s, had already developed, and only got better when the competition was elevated in the NHL. We could see the same thing with Oliwer Kaski.

Though he is not a Russian, he is playing in the KHL, the second-toughest league in the world. He is a 26-year old defenceman, so if he’s not yet playing at the top of the game, he’s at the age when defencemen typically reach their prime and are fully developed.

If the Flyers could acquire Kaski in a deal with the Hurricanes, they would have themselves an NHL-ready defenceman who could have an immediate impact and surprise many. He is in his second season in the KHL and has dominated offensively since arriving, with 13 goals and 33 points in 47 games this season. Last season, he also had 13 goals. Before joining the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate, Kaski played three seasons in Finland’s top league (Liiga) and was the league’s best player in 2018-19.

He signed with the Detroit Red Wings before being traded to the Hurricanes and scoring 11 goals in 35 games as a defenceman. He opted to return overseas, but the Hurricanes still have his rights. If the Flyers could convince him to come back to North America, he would have a spot on the blue line moving forward and provide the offense from the blue line that the Flyers are lacking.

Related: Flyers: 4 Young Bruins Trade Targets

Which player would you most like to see the Flyers try to acquire before the 2022 trade deadline? Are there any young players I’m missing? Let me know in the comments.

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