Fans of the Carolina Hurricanes that were sulking while watching the San Jose Sharks versus the Vegas Golden Knights, wishing their team was in the playoffs, got a little pick-me-up during the game. The draft lottery balls bounced their way and lo and behold the Hurricanes have the second overall pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.
The question now has changed from, “Who is going to be left over by the time we pick?” to “Wow, who should we pick at No. 2?”
Hurricanes Now Have Choices
Picking at No. 2 behind the Buffalo Sabres, who won the first overall pick, frees up owner Tom Dundon and his management team to have some freedom of choice in who they select. The first pick will almost certainly be defenseman Rasmus Dahlin of Frolunda HC in the Swedish Hockey League. The Sabres would surprise the world if they did not select Dahlin, who, by all accounts, is this year’s top prospect, hands down.
Brandon Share-Cohen of THW wrote this of Dahlin:
Dahlin will be taken with the first-overall selection in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. While every other player in the class could fall anywhere within a variety of ranges, Dahlin is about as sure-fire of a first-overall pick as it gets.”
Operating under the assumption that the Sabres will take Dahlin, then several nice possibilities remain for the Hurricanes.
Trade for a Player Named Tavares
The New York Islanders have John Tavares, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The Hurricanes could use Tavares in a big way. He might be the missing piece, outside of a reliable goaltender, that could take them to the playoffs.
Tavares has not been the happiest of campers since the Islanders missed the playoffs again this year. The New York Times quoted him as saying, “Being where we are is tough; missing the playoffs is tough.” “We’re going to be watching again. It’s another missed opportunity,” he continued. Hurricanes fans can relate.
The Islanders have two first round picks already, so why not get a third and send Tavares to the Hurricanes for the second overall pick and whatever else they require? Owner Tom Dundon says he is looking for deals that bring value to the team. Tavares’ 37 goals and 47 assists last year would have been extremely valuable to the Hurricanes. If the belief is that Tavares, at age 27, will continue that type of output for the next five or so years, then the Hurricanes should do whatever it takes within reason to get Tavares.
Sending a package to the Islanders that includes the second overall pick might be the best way the Hurricanes can utilize their newly found good fortune in jumping up to second overall.
Picks from the Prospect Pool
If Dundon and the team want to keep the pick, then, after Dahlin, there are a couple of players that the Hurricanes will likely look to on whom they might utilize it.
There is Andrei Svechnikov, a forward that could be part of fulfilling the team’s need for goal-scoring. According to Habs Eyes on the Prize, Svechnikov, brother of Detroit Red Wings’ Evgeny Svechnikov, won’t be on the draft board too long. Their profile of Svechnikov says,
Andrei lit the lamp as a rookie in the United States Hockey League scoring with 29 goals and 58 points during the 2016-17 season. After being drafted first overall in the CHL Import Draft in 2017, the youngster took his talents to the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League where he scored 40 goals and 72 points during the 2017-18 season. His goal tally was tied for eighth-best among OHL skaters.
At 18 years old, he is already a force to deal with offensively, and that is not likely to change when he makes the step to the NHL. Some draft boards have Svechnikov slotted third and Filip Zadina slotted second. Both are outstanding goal-scorers, but this tweet by Athletic Montreal contributor Mitch Brown may give the edge to Svechnikov:
Finally tracked Barrie, so here's Andrei Svechnikov vs. Filip Zadina based on percentile rank within sample of 190 CHL forwards.
Must say, I'm quite surprised that Svechnikov rated higher in transition & shot assists. pic.twitter.com/Ju5ZUiZdIz
— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) April 24, 2018
Brown also tweeted that Svechnikov seems to be “in a tier of his own.” He is definitely a forward that the Hurricanes should look at closely with their second overall pick.
The next highest rated forward after Zadina and Svechnikov is Brady Tkachuk of Boston University. Leah Dyck of THW writes of Tkachuk,
Brady Tkachuk is a centreman and left-winger who’s also expected to get drafted somewhere in the top five…he’s the younger brother of Matthew Tkachuk, who plays for the Calgary Flames. Apparently, these two boys are exactly the same except Brady is better and nastier, which is hard to believe considering how skilled and vicious Matthew is.
This may be what sends Tkachuk to the Hurricanes, as toughness is one thing they are definitely lacking as a team. Adding a forward who can not only score but is also gritty and tough will be a huge plus for this team.
Michael Traikos of the National Post writes of Tkachuk,
Like Matthew Tkachuk, who is a shift-disturbing pain in the you-know-what for the Calgary Flames, the younger Tkachuk spends his time deep in the margins of what is often deemed acceptable. He crashes and bangs and drives to the net like a runaway car that’s lost its brakes. And he does it all, said his coach, with a “giant smirk on his face.”
But, this is the sentence that puts me squarely in the Tkachuk camp: “The fact that he can also hurt you on the scoreboard is what really makes him dangerous.”
If I were Dundon or whoever on the Hurricanes’ management team making the decision of what to do with the second overall pick, I’d look very long and hard at Tkachuk.
Svechnikov, Zadina, and Tkachuk are all there for the taking if the Hurricanes want to keep their pick and use it on a prospect. They would not go wrong picking either of the three, but if pressed I’d have to lean slightly to Tkachuk because of his tough play.
The Hurricanes are in a fantastic position with the second overall pick. They can use it in a package to try to attract a Tavares who is the proven scoring forward they need. Or, they can use it to select from three outstanding forwards ranked in the top five or six overall. If the Sabres don’t take Dahlin then the Hurricanes might just have to, if he is as good as advertised. It’s nice for the team to have choices.
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.