The Carolina Hurricanes will be hosting their own Prospect Showcase, with their first game being Friday at 10 A.M. EST. The Hurricanes will be joined by the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Nashville Predators. These teams will come together for a four-day tournament, giving their prospects and other invitees the opportunity to show off their talents before we get into the NHL’s training camp.
Prospects Participating for the Hurricanes
The Hurricanes will have 14 players participating that they have drafted. The drafted players include Ryan Suzuki, Noel Gunler, Bobby Orr, Alexander Pashin, Justin Robidas, Tuukka Tieksola, Jamieson Rees, Blake Murray, and Vasily Ponomarev for forwards. On defense, their draftees include Bryce Montgomery, Anttoni Honka, and Ronan Seeley. Patrik Hamrla and Jakub Vondras will be the goaltenders, both of who were drafted by the Hurricanes.
There are also some other names either invited to the Showcase or already on AHL deals, including Grigori Dronov, Jackson Berezowski, Eric Cooley, Charlie Desroches, Griffin Mendel, Demi Goure, Joe Arntsen and Sam McGinley.
This is a pretty solid group of young prospects and quite a few names up there that people will recognize. Some of them are the Hurricanes’ top prospects, but there are also some pretty underrated names that you should be excited to watch.
Hurricanes Players To Keep An Eye On
Suzuki, Gunler, and Rees are some names everybody will be excited to watch. But keep your eyes on a few of these other players.
Justin Robidas, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, is a small-framed, high-skilled forward. In his third season in the QMJHL, Robidas took a big step forward with his offensive output, registering 30 goals and 82 points through 68 games for the Val-D’or Foreurs. The 5-foot-8 centerman should be somebody to look out for on the ice. At just 19 years old, the expectation is he will return to Val-D’or as the team’s captain again as they look to go on a deeper playoff run.
More people will be familiar with Vasily Ponomarev, the Hurricanes’ second-round pick in 2020. Ponomarev played 11 games with the Chicago Wolves last year, notching 10 points. His production fell off a bit in the playoffs, but he still had six points in 18 games. He’ll most likely get the full season in the AHL this year and could take on a big role. His two-way game is very valuable, especially when he proves that he can produce numbers like he was last season. While he has a (barely) undersized stature, he is a hard worker in the corners and in puck battles.
Dronov will join the tournament as an invitee, and he could be a really interesting story to watch. He only managed to play six games in the KHL last season, but once the playoffs hit, he became a very effective two-way defender. He played 24 playoff games with Metallurg Magnitogorsk and registered 14 points while being a responsible defenseman. At 24 years old, he is one of the older players in the tournament, but he can use this experience as a valuable asset for him as he looks to take a crack at a North American roster.
The Importance of a Prospect Showcase
For many of these players, it could end up being their one and only shot on North American ice. These players will give everything they have to show the team they belong in training camp and that they deserve a spot in the NHL or AHL. For some others, it is a bit of a warmup for training camp.
No matter who you are, though, no position is just given to you. All of these players are here to give 110 percent effort and make sure their presence is known. When it comes to goaltending, you have to be sharp. In most cases, the goalie will switch halfway through the second period to give each goalie equal playing time.
Some prospects, like Jack Drury for example, will be held back from this tournament, as they have already shown their value. Drury will participate in training camp to show he deserves an NHL spot, but there is no doubt he will be, at the minimum, an AHL top-of-the-lineup player.
It should be an exciting weekend, as this is always some of the first games of hockey we see after the summer. With games on Friday, Sunday and Monday, and Saturday being a practice day, that brings us within reach of training camp. The Hurricanes have not set a date for training camp to open, though I expect them to follow suit with other teams that have announced dates, and start around Sept. 21 or 22.