Entering just his second year as Carolina Hurricanes general manager (GM), Don Waddell added another drop to his pool of prospects on Aug. 17 when he signed Quinnipiac Bobcats defenseman Chase Priskie to a two-year, $832,500 entry-level contract. The 23-year-old was a sought-after free agent this summer after finishing his senior year of college hockey. So what kind of player did the Hurricanes get in Priskie?
The Pembroke Pines, Florida-native was selected in the sixth round by the Washington Capitals in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. He was 20 years old when he was drafted 177th overall, making him one of the older players picked in that draft. The Capitals and Priskie were unable to come to an agreement in the coming years, however, and he became a free agent this summer.
Waddell was again able to work his magic and convince a free agent to come to Carolina, despite multiple teams showing interest in Priskie. Now 23, Priskie has signed his first professional contract and will look to join the Hurricanes organization this fall.
What Does Priskie Bring to the Table?
Don’t let Priskie’s late-round selection fool you. He is a steady defenseman who excels particularly on offense, and broke out big last season in his senior year when he led his team in goals with 17 and added 22 assists in 36 games to finish second in team scoring. The 5-foot-11, 192-pound defenseman is an agile skater with strong puck-handling abilities and has excellent vision, making him a dangerous weapon from the back end.
His impressive season also had him up for consideration for the Hobey Baker Award, where he was a top-10 finalist for best college player in the country. The offensively gifted defenseman was a monster on the power play, where he scored 10 of his 17 goals. Though Priskie led NCAA defensemen in goals and power-play goals, the award was ultimately won by Colorado Avalanche star prospect Cale Makar.
Another check on Priskie’s resume is the leadership abilities he brings. He was named captain of the Bobcats after his sophomore season and was also named to multiple All-Star teams throughout his four-year college hockey career.
Will Priskie Make the Hurricanes’ Roster?
Priskie has his work cut out for him if he wants to immediately jump into the NHL. The ‘Canes have a strong defense core headlined by Jaccob Slavin, Dougie Hamilton, Brett Pesce, Justin Faulk and Trevor van Riemsdyk. With those five spots locked down to start the season, Priskie will be competing for the sixth defenseman spot with Haydn Fleury, Gustav Forsling and Jake Bean.
Carolina’s logjam of right-handed defensemen could be an added obstacle for Priskie that prevents him from starting the season in the NHL. However, Faulk and van Riemsdyk are entering the final years of their contracts and could be traded, so it’s possible a vacancy opens up for the young d-man late in the season.
Should Priskie see NHL minutes next season, his rookie status and lack of NHL experience shouldn’t squash your expectations. He joins the team at 23 years old, which is already older than most rookies entering the league. He took his time building his confidence as he matured at the college level, increasing his goal totals – and responsibilities – each season. He brings a reliable two-way presence, and could also provide a jump start to Carolina’s power play, which was abysmal in last year’s playoffs (9.6 percent).
Priskie Must Bide His Time
This may not be the year Priskie explodes onto the NHL scene, as it may be more beneficial to have him play top minutes with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. He could be set up well to dominate the AHL and possibly lead Charlotte to back-to-back Calder Cup championships. But should Carolina trade some of their NHL d-men or run into injuries on the back end, Priskie could finally get his shot at NHL action in the very city he chose to play in. For a player who’s been patiently climbing the ladder through his young career, that destination will be well worth the journey.