Five of the team’s seven draft picks were defensemen, which addressed the area of greatest organizational need. That group was headlined by Justin Faulk
, whom the Canes chose with their first pick of the day at 37th overall. They also grabbed some immediate help at the blue line via a trade with the New York Rangers for 22-year-old Bobby Sanguinetti
, himself a former first-round draft choice.
”After (taking forward Jeff Skinner
in the first round), we wanted to build up our depth chart with defensemen,” said Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford. “We were hoping for Faulk at 37 and we got him, and we just kept going from there.”
At forward, the Canes added center Riley Nash
from the Edmonton Oilers with the second of their three second-round picks, drafted 39-goal scorer Justin Shugg
from the Memorial Cup Champion Windsor Spitfires and acquired 24-year-old center Jon Matsumoto from the Philadelphia Flyers organization.
With their final draft choice, the Canes nabbed Danish goaltender Fredrik Andersen. He became the first goaltender drafted by the team since Mike Murphy
In all, it was a versatile draft for the Hurricanes, who came away with a little bit of everything.
”We feel we’ve got it pretty well covered with the guys we took, and we’re pretty excited when we factor in the trades,” said Tony MacDonald, the Hurricanes’ director of amateur scouting. “All in all when you analyze what happened today, I think you have to be pretty happy with how we came out of this.”
”This is a year where things fell the way we hoped they would,” said Rutherford.
Here’s a player-by-player analysis of the Canes’ 10 new additions:
Having all night to think about their choice, the Canes were hoping to grab Faulk from the U.S. National Team Development Program with the seventh pick of the second round. A 6-foot-0, 196 pound offensive defenseman who scored a team-leading 14 power play goals last season, he will begin his freshman year with the University of Minnesota Duluth this fall.
“I’d say I’m more of an offensive defenseman, but at the same time I think I can be a pretty good two-way guy,” said Faulk, who patterns his game after Dan Boyle. “I played a lot of power play this year and I think I’ll continue to do that throughout my career.”
“We were really pleased to get Justin Faulk,” said MacDonald. “I was just talking to my old buddy Martin Madden (a former scout with the Hurricanes and now the Director of Amateur Scouting with Anaheim), and he told me that I spoiled his day today (the Ducks chose five picks later). “We were concerned we might miss out on him at seven, but we caught a break and were able to take him.”
While certainly more of an offensive player, the Hurricanes believe he has the strength and smarts necessary to be a good player in his own end, and will be able to fight off bigger players when under pressure.
The Canes acquired Nash from Edmonton with their second pick in the second round, 49th overall. Nash, who has 102 points in 102 games spanning three years at Cornell University, was the 21st overall pick by the Oilers in the 2007 draft.
”Ronnie (Francis) had talked about Nash earlier in the year when he saw him play,” said Rutherford. “I had talked to Edmonton about moving him but they didn’t want to until today, so this is something we’re excited about. It gives us some more depth at center.”
“He’s a very good center with creativity,” said MacDonald. “He’s got very good skill and he can make things happen. This guy is a talented, creative kid with tools and a guy that can make plays for his wingers. We’re pretty excited to get him.”
The Canes are not sure whether Nash will return to Cornell for his senior season or turn pro with either the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers or the Hurricanes. While they’ll leave the ultimate decision to the player, the Canes would like to see him improve his game and his consistency by facing stiffer competition on a nightly basis.
”I sure think we’d like him to be playing pro as soon as possible, but that’s up to him and management to see if we can convince him to do that,” said MacDonald. “If he stayed at Cornell it wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen, but we think he’s ready to play.”
Carolina took another blue liner with the final second-round pick, 53rd overall, in Minnesota high school player Mark Alt. Alt, who checks in at 6-foot-3 and 199 pounds and was also a quarterback for Cretin-Derham high, turned down a football scholarship at the University of Iowa. His father, John Alt, was a tackle for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs.
“He’s a tremendous athlete,” said MacDonald. “He’s a big man who has made the commitment to hockey, which was a concern for a while. He’s a big guy who skates very well and can move the puck and shoot the puck.”
The Canes are hoping that he’ll benefit from a more structured environment at the University of Minnesota next season, where he can hopefully shake some bad habits typical of high-school prospects.
”He has a tendency to maybe rove around a little bit because of the level of play at the high school level – he can do things he shouldn’t and get away with it,” said MacDonald.
Hockey people often use the quarterback analogy to describe players who are adept at running the point on the power play. With Alt being an actual quarterback, there’s hope that he can be such a player at the NHL level.
“He’s certainly able to do it at the high school level, and we’d like to believe he can take that to the next step,” said MacDonald. “We think his upside is pretty significant.”
Continuing their effort to re-stock their system with defensemen, the Canes chose Danny Biega with the 67th overall pick. Biega, a Montreal native who stands at 6-foot-0 and weighs 191 pounds, completed his freshman season at Harvard last season. His two older brothers, Alex and Michael, were teammates with the Crimson.
“I think I’m a pretty quick player,” he said. “I use my speed as one of my stronger assets in just getting back to the puck first. It’s not necessarily the flashy play but the right play at times to just chip it off the boards or make that indirect press. I think getting the puck on net for opportunities is another strong asset.”
”He’s an all-around guy who we think can eventually contribute to the power play,” said MacDonald. “He’s a pretty smart player and is very strong physically. He’s well built and very solid, and he can handle the big guys physically even though he’s 5-11.”
Biega displayed that with an impressive performance at the NHL combine.
”He’s a very well-trained athlete,” said MacDonald. “He was very well prepared for the combine and he impressed a lot of people with his performance there.”
Biega grabbed some attention from the Montreal media as he was the first player from Quebec to be chosen at the draft. He’s perfectly bilingual, answering questions in each language without hint of an accent.
The Canes went to the Compuware family with their second third-round choice, 85th overall, by choosing Plymouth Whalers defenseman Austin Levi. Levi, who hails from Farmington Hills, Michigan, played youth hockey with Compuware before moving on to the Peter Karmanos-owned Whalers last season. The 6-foot-3, 185 pounder isn’t yet known for his offense (12 points in 68 games last season), but the potential is believed to be there.
“I’d say I’m a stay-at-home defenseman and like to take care of my defensive responsibilities before I contribute offensively,” he said. “My game will take strides offensively this year as I get more playing time, and that’s something I’ll look to improve.”
“He can handle the puck and he can make plays with the puck, but his tendency is to focus concentrate on defense, and he does that pretty well,” said MacDonald. “He’s an example of a good shut-down guy who was always matched up against the other team’s top offensive lines and did a great job in handling them.”
The Canes also like his smarts, as he managed to show a considerable amount of toughness without getting himself into trouble.
“He’s able to play physically but doesn’t take a lot of penalties as a result,” said MacDonald. “He’s one of those guys that can play a tough physical game and doesn’t have to be sitting in the box.”
The first forward drafted by Carolina on the draft’s second day, Justin Shugg won his second Memorial Cup with the Windsor Spitfires last season. With 39 goals and 40 assists (79 total points) in 67 games, he finished second on the team in scoring behind Friday’s first overall draft choice, Taylor Hall.
Shugg, who stands at 5-foot-11 and weighs 184 pounds, considers himself to be a strong two-way player.
“I love to put the puck in the net, but I’ll do anything it takes to play a defense-first attitude,” he said. “I (pattern my game after) Dan Cleary. He’s about my height and plays a versatile hockey game in that he can play on the top line and play on the third line. He does everything you ask for.”
“What he does is score goals,” said MacDonald. “He’s a pretty good two-way guy and plays well on both sides of the puck. When he had to play with better offensive guys he was able to fit right in and play off those guys. He’s good at making himself available to the puck and finds those holes and finds those seams.”
The Canes may have gotten a bit of a steal with Shugg, who originally expected to be drafted in the second round but ended up falling to the fourth.
”We certainly had him higher on our list than where he went,” said MacDonald.
With the anticipated exit of Hall and several other high-profile Spitfires, Shugg will get a chance to shine in a prime role after spending time in all situations over the past few seasons.
“Coach (Bob) Boughner told me that the load is going to be on my back next year to potentially be one of the leaders on the team,” he said. “I hope I won’t prove him wrong and that I won’t prove the Carolina Hurricanes wrong over the next couple of years.
If all the defensemen drafted by the Hurricanes will provide help down the road, Bobby Sanguinetti can help immediately. The Canes made a trade with the New York Rangers in round six, trading the 157th overall pick along with Washington’s second-round pick in 2011 for the 22-year-old former first-round pick.
A high scorer with Brampton of the OHL during his junior career and with the Hartford Wolfpack of the AHL, he was scoreless in his first five NHL games last season but has the potential to put up points at the highest level.
”He can skate, he can handle the puck and is a puck mover,” said Rutherford. “He’ll be given an opportunity to make our team.”
Sanguinetti is still on a two-way contract, meaning he could move back and forth between Charlotte during the season. No matter where he ends up, Rutherford is confident that the Hurricanes can aid in his continued growth.
“I really believe in Ron Francis and Glen Wesley and Jeff Daniels and all the people that are involved in developing these players,” said Rutherford. “The guys coming from other organizations really give us a good chance to mold these guys into NHL players.”
Carolina added its sixth and final defenseman of the day in the sixth round, choosing Chilliwack blue liner Tyler Stahl at 167. The 6-foot-1, 180 pounder is known for playing a aggressive yet controlled game.
“Tyler Stahl is a big, tough guy to play against,” said MacDonald. “He’s a very physical guy and makes you pay the price, but he’s not a dumb player and he’s not just out there to hammer people.”
Stahl has an extremely interesting statistical line over the past two years, having scored 40 points in 34 games in 2008-09 followed by just six points, all assists, in 59 games last season.
”I can’t explain why that fell off,” said MacDonald. “(Chilliwack) is traditionally not a team that scores a lot of goals, and that probably has an effect. They only had three or four guys up front that scored very much, so that kind of hurts your stats at as a defenseman when you don’t have a chance to pick up assists like that.
In addition to his physical game, the Hurricanes feel that some offensive upside also exists with Stahl.
“He has the potential to round out his game and become a pretty good two-way defender when all is said and done,” said MacDonald.
In the seventh round, Carolina chose its first and only European player of the entire draft in 6-foot-4 Danish goaltender Frederik Andersen. The first goaltender taken by the Canes since Mike Murphy in 2008, has plenty of international experience, having represented his country at the 2008 World Junior Championship and the 2010 World Championship.
“When (European scout) Robert Kron and I were at the (2010) World Championship, we saw this guy play and he was outstanding,” said MacDonald. “He’s a big guy at 6-foot-4 and well over 200 pounds and has tremendous athletic ability. He had a very, very strong World tournament playing against NHL-caliber players, and we felt that the upside here was significant.”
Andersen is a few years older than most players taken in this draft at 20 years of age, but is expected to stay in Europe next season. The Canes do anticipate that he’ll face stiffer competition net year in the Swedish Elite League than he did in Denmark last season.
“He needs to get better competition on a more consistent basis,” said MacDonald.
The Canes transformed their final pick in the seventh round, 206th overall, into veteran depth at center via a trade with Philadelphia. Matsumoto, 23, has three full AHL seasons under his belt, scoring 29 and 30 goals over the last two seasons.
”Matsumoto was a third-round pick to Philadelphia who is still a young guy,” said Rutherford. “He’s a guy that’s really on the bubble at this point as to whether he catches a job for the Hurricanes or whether he’s a depth guy. Clearly he has the ability to play at some point in time.”