One of the best events on the NHL calendar — and certainly of the offseason — has come, and in a blink, gone. The NHL Entry Draft is always an exciting time, and heartwarming to see so many young men achieve their childhood dreams of being drafted by an NHL franchise. From Montreal Canadiens’ first-overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky all the way to “Mr. Irrelevant” in the Cup-champion Colorado Avalanche’s pick of Ivan Zhigalov, 225 players found a new home on Thursday and Friday.
For the Carolina Hurricanes, it looked to be a pretty quiet couple of days initially. The team only had six picks entering the draft, a far cry from the average of 11 they’ve selected over the last three years (including a record-tying 13 just last year). They were out of the first round altogether after the Jesperi Kotkaniemi offer sheet. The team created some fireworks with the Day 2 trade of Tony DeAngelo to Philadelphia, picking up a fourth-round pick, as well as a future second- and third-rounder. Still, the seven selections marked the lowest they’ve had since Don Waddell took over (not counting the 2018 season when Don Waddell was named general manager).
For a team with an already pretty deep pipeline competing for a championship now, lacking draft picks isn’t the end of the world. The Avalanche are a pretty good example, with their first pick not coming until the sixth round, 193rd overall. I think just about any general manager would trade every pick they had for a Stanley Cup ring. However, the Hurricanes have proven to be one of the best teams at finding value throughout the draft, and continuing to stack the pipeline should keep the talent influx flowing for years to come. This year will likely play a big role in that, with some highly intriguing pieces headed to the organization at the 2022 Draft. Here’s what you need to know about the seven newest ‘Canes.
2nd Round, 60th Overall: Gleb Trikozov (Winger)
THW Draft Expert Rankings
Peter Barrachini’s Top 160 Final Rankings: 50
Matthew Zator’s Top 128 Final Rankings: 36
Andrew Forbes’ Top 160 Final Rankings: 36
Gleb Trikozov 2022 Draft Profile
The Hurricanes started off with a trend they’ve become known for on draft weekend, and one that would certainly not end on this day: taking highly-rated players that few expected to be on the board when they came on the clock. In this case, it was a 6-foot-1 winger who has put up highly impressive goalscoring numbers in his native Russia the last few years, including scoring 10 goals in 13 playoff games in Russian Junior (MHL) last year.
He’s already an All-Name First Teamer, and those on the Hurricanes beat will surely have some fun with this one. However, Trikozov is a lot more than simply a sweet hockey name, as one of the best snipers in the 2022 Draft class. Only superstar 2023 Draft prospect Matvei Michkov scored at a higher rate amongst U18 MHL players than Trikozov, who has the sort of shot this system (and team, frankly) is a bit lacking. Trikozov isn’t a one-dimensional scorer, though, as his vision and hands combine to create a really interesting package offensively, and he has at least middle-six potential.
Many corners of the prospect world expected him to go higher than the tail end of the second round, as you can see with where our THW draft gurus ranked him. Like the rest of the class, Trikozov will need a few years to really gauge where his future lies, and the Hurricanes can afford to wait. This selection was nice value at this juncture of the draft, and they’ll be able to watch him develop in his home country for the next couple seasons. Despite not having a first-round pick, the Hurricanes still managed to grab a player with the kind of goalscoring upside normally reserved for players taken in the opening round.
3rd Round, 71st Overall: Alexander Perevalov (Winger)
THW Draft Expert Rankings
Perevalov 2022 Draft Profile
Not unlike his new organization-mate in Trikozov, Perevalov is a highly-talented Russian winger with a lethal shot to threaten goalies from anywhere in the offensive zone. We’ve talked about the Hurricanes’ need for adding some goalscoring punch to the current lineup, and it seems that the front office is trying to be a little proactive on this front as well. Of course, these guys aren’t going to help with the current problem, not for a minimum of three seasons, I’d guess. Regardless, perhaps they’re trying to reverse course a bit and add a couple natural scorers to complement the Teuvo Teravainen’s and Martin Necas’ who pass first, second, and third.
Along with his shot, Perevalov has excellent pull-away speed and nifty hands that enable him to dance around defenders 1-on-1 regularly. He’s also known as a bit of a breakaway specialist, so he could end up being a featured shootout performer if/when he gets to the NHL. Like most talented young forwards, he has a lot of work to do in his own end. It would also help if the game slowed down for him a bit, because there are times where his processing leaves a lot to be desired; this manifests in both ends of the ice, and is likely a big factor at the root of his inconsistencies at the end of the year.
Ultimately, this is another high-ceiling pick that has the potential to play a featured role for the Hurricanes down the road. For a team without a pick in the top-59, that’s a pretty good start to the draft.
4th Round, 101st Overall: Simon Forsmark (Left Defense)
THW Draft Expert Rankings
Forsmark 2022 Draft Profile
I really don’t want to be repetitive, so just assume that, unless otherwise denoted, the Hurricanes drafted a player that was considered an excellent value amongst most scouts and draft analysts. Forsmark is a big, rangy defender looks like a potential responsible, shutdown guy at the NHL level. The 6-foot-2, 194-pound blueliner is great at reading the play, has excellent stick and body positioning, and makes quick, crisp plays on the breakout to get the puck moving up ice. He’s a little old for his draft year with an Oct. 2003 birthday, but he has already spent a good amount of time playing against men in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), where he’s shown he’s not out of place physically or mentally.
The biggest question is how much his offensive game will develop. Point production is generally pretty meaningless for teenagers in European professional leagues, but going from over a point-per-game in the U20 league (27 in 23 games) to just three assists in 43 SHL games does create some hesitancy in projecting his production in that end. He’s a good passer, but quite risk-averse. So, while he always seems to make the right/smart play, there are times you wish he’d jump into the offense with a little more aggression or try to create more dangerous opportunities with seam passes or cuts through the middle. He has a nice floor as a bottom-pair defenseman that’s difficult to create against, but if his offensive game takes a step forward he could surpass that projection.
4th Round, 124th Overall: Cruz Lucius (Winger)
THW Draft Expert Rankings
Lucius 2022 Draft Profile
The sweet-name-per-60 (SN/60?) is absolutely off the charts in this draft. From a pure hockey standpoint, though, this may well have been my favorite Hurricanes pick of the draft. Lucius displayed many of the same traits that made his brother, Chaz, the 18th-overall pick for the Winnipeg Jets in 2021 (who happened to be one of my favorite prospects in that draft, by the way), but he missed a lot of time. When on the ice, he has been known as an excellent playmaker throughout his junior career, but his release and shooting ability are incredibly slept upon. In fact, when I first started watching him, I thought he had pure sniper written all over him; it was mildly shocking to find out he was putting up way more assists than goals for a time, until his draft year, at least.
The only thing that really slowed Lucius down last year was his broken wrist, and that may have worked in the Hurricanes’ favor. He didn’t have as much tape as some players available, which could be why you see the difference between our rankings here at The Hockey Writers and where he was drafted. He will be fun to track the next couple seasons as he develops at the University of Wisconsin. The biggest watchpoints other than staying healthy are his skating stride and strength, which are two things that go hand-in-hand. As he gets older and matures physically while working on a college (and NHL) training program, he should gain some muscle and, hopefully, power in his stride. If he does, along with his hands, high-end offensive IQ, and wicked release on his wrist shot, I think this could be a candidate for steal of the draft.
5th Round, 156th Overall: Vladimir Grudinin (Left Defense)
THW Draft Expert Rankings
Grudinin 2022 Draft Profile
This is where things got spicy for the Hurricanes. Grudinin, in normal circumstances, could have easily been a first-round pick. If nothing else, odds are quite high that he wouldn’t have been on the board even at 60, when the Hurricanes first came on the clock. The explosive 5-foot-10 defenseman is absolutely electric with the puck on his stick, with elite quickness, the ability to stop and cut on a dime, and the type of nifty hands typically reserved for skilled forwards. Unlike most offensive defensemen in this vein, he’s quite effective in his own end as well. This is largely thanks to his skating, but his competitiveness was also impressive. By no means is he a bruiser that’s going to lay a bunch of forwards out when they cross the blue line, but he is more than willing to use his body to separate the puck, especially along the boards and in front of the net.
Grudinin has the look of a high-end NHL power-play quarterback, with the shiftiness to work the blue line and create angles and holes for seam passes. He also displayed the ability to pick corners from a distance, although he projects as more of a playmaking defenseman than one that will bomb heavy shots and fill the nets. Regardless, he’s a highly-active player who wants the puck on his stick, and I’d expect him to make a big offensive impact on the man advantage, in transition, and at even strength.
Alas, the circumstances were not, in fact, normal. Grudinin plays for the CSKA organization in Russia, and the ugly international relations and current situations unfolding with Kirill Kaprizov and Ivan Fedotov, CSKA products themselves, clearly scared a few teams off. So, while there is some risk with this selection with regards to him ever making it stateside, the pick is also about as high-reward as it gets. In the fifth round, that is a gamble well worth taking.
6th Round, 171st Overall: Jakub Vondras (Goalie)
THW Draft Expert Rankings
Vondras is big (6-foot-3), and he catches with his right hand, which is sort of fun. He put up pretty good numbers in his native Czechia, including a 22-5-0 regular season record between two U20 teams. He then went 10-5 in the playoffs with a .935 save percentage (SV%). NHL Central Scouting had him as the 10-best European goalie available in the draft in their final rankings. That’s about all I got!
It’s smart business for a team to nab a goalie in every draft, because of their inherent unpredictability and the length of time it takes them to develop. Pyotr Kochetkov reaching the NHL at age 22 is certainly more exception than rule, as most of the time you don’t truly know what you have in a goalie until they are in their mid-20’s. That ought to tell you how tricky it is to project them out as 18- to 20-year-olds. We should get eyes on him in development camp, and then he should see some time in the top Czech professional leagues moving forward.
7th Round, 205th Overall: Alexander Pelevin (Left Defense)
THW Draft Expert Rankings
Pelevin 2022 Draft Profile
Finally, the Hurricanes closed out their draft with another slick-skating, left-shot defenseman. The team has added some highly interesting picks in the seventh round in recent years, such as Nikitia Guslistov, Ronan Seeley, Alexander Pashin, and Joel Nyström. Pelevin was nice value in this range, as his defensive game and attacking style could make for an interesting bottom-pair option if he continues to develop or takes a step forward in the offensive end.
Pelevin is similar to Grudinin in his excellent skating ability and shiftiness, but he doesn’t possess the same kind of skill or vision that make his fifth-round counterpart such an intriguing developmental piece. However, he is an extremely aggressive player in his own end, despite his 5-foot-11, 183-pound frame. He loves to throw his weight around and attack puck carriers, but he’ll have to rein that in at the NHL level in order to not be caught out of position as much as he currently is at times.
Hurricanes Go For Some Risk, but Abundant Reward
The Hurricanes have made a habit out of finding value where other teams are risk-averse. This year, it was clear where they saw that value: Russian players. The current international uneasiness is, unfortunately, bleeding over into our great sport. With the recent aforementioned reports about players such as the young goalie, Fedotov, being detained, and Kaprizov, the superstar for the Minnesota Wild, being wanted in Russia (and, reportedly, denied entry to the United States), there is some unpredictability, which could affect these four players’ ability to ever even set foot on North American soil (from ‘Wild offseason off to an ominous start: The latest on the Kaprizov situation, Talbot drama and more,’ The Athletic, July 8, 2022).
At the end of the day, though, and as it is with any Hurricanes’ draft class during this era of their high-risk, high-reward drafting, it will be fascinating to see how those risks turn out. They added some serious goalscoring potential, as well as a few impressive prospects on defense that seem to fit really well into both their style of play and the modern NHL in general. Alongside a goalie who, if nothing else, has some intriguing on-paper traits, it’s hard not to see the 2022 Draft as a successful one for a team without a pick until the late second round.
Now, we’ll turn our attention to free agency and then prospects camp, which is right around the corner. With the DeAngelo deal, the team now needs a power-play quarterback in addition to some goalscoring help, especially if Vincent Trocheck and Nino Niederreiter are on the way out of town. Alongside figuring out the future of Martin Necas, there are 69 goals from last year that need replacing from that quartet alone, and the team doesn’t exactly have a ton of cap room with which to do it. The DeAngelo deal, which we’ll talk much more about in the coming days and weeks, is just the first of many dominoes to fall in Raleigh. Buckle up, because a highly intriguing, and highly important, offseason is officially underway.
Brandon Stanley covers the Carolina Hurricanes and Los Angeles Kings here at THW. Born and raised in Raleigh, NC, in addition to writing about the Hurricanes for about five years now, he played in the Carolina Junior Canes program for another 15; hockey has always been his biggest passion. A graduate of North Carolina State University, Brandon also co-hosts and edits a podcast with two other writers (one of which, Alex Ohari, is also a writer here at THW) called Tracking the Storm. The pod covers everything Carolina Hurricanes, from prospects, to game recaps, and everything in between. Always available to chat anything hockey related, don’t hesitate to shoot him a tweet or DM anytime on Twitter @bwstanley26!