The Carolina Hurricanes added three prospects to their system and welcomed back defensive prospect Dennis Robertson with several deadline deals earlier this week.
Canes General Manager Ron Francis spoke to the media on Monday afternoon and noted that the acquired prospects would be assessed on an individual basis.
“Every individual player is young. It’s a process with all these guys,” Francis said. “It’s getting to know each and every one of them individually so you’re trying to do what’s best for them – is it best to have them here or best to have them in Charlotte? You have to treat each one as an individual and do what’s best for them.”
Aleksi Saarela – center, acquired from NYR in Eric Staal trade*
Saarela is currently playing for Assat Pori of the Finnish elite league, SM-liiga. Through 48 games, the 19-year-old center leads the team in goals (19) and is third in points (32).
“He’s more of a goal-scorer than a playmaker,” Francis said. “We think there’s some good upside to him."
“He’s playing in the men’s league in Finland and is leading the team in goals, but at the end of the day he’s only 19 years old,” Francis continued. “I can’t sit here and say if he’s going to make it or not, and if he does, that would be an awesome find for us that quickly.”
Saarela has seen recent success in international tournaments while representing Team Finland. Saarela, along with Canes prospect Sebastian Aho, won gold at the 2016 World Junior Championship in his hometown of Helsinki. He finished the tournament with 7 points (4g, 3a), including an assist on the game-winning overtime goal in the gold medal match.
Francis also saw Saarela play during last year’s U-18 World Juniors tournament and described him as “a real good player, good prospect.”
He tallied three goals and five assists and won the silver medal in that tournament.
*Carolina also received a 2nd-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and a 2nd-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.
Valentin Zykov – winger, acquired from LAK in Kris Versteeg trade*
Zykov made his professional debut this year with the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League. He has 14 points (7g, 7a) and a plus-7 rating in 43 games.
Zykov's future with Charlotte this season is up in the air at this point, as he was injured right before the trade. While his return is uncertain, Checkers head coach Mark Morris is familiar with the prospect.
“He’s a hard-working guy, good skater, strong on the puck,” Morris said in an interview with CharlotteCheckers.com. “He’s a kid with some creativity. He’s not big in stature, but he’s thick. From what I gather he’s a pretty quiet guy, but he’s serious about his career and I’m hopeful that once he’s ready to go we can utilize his skill and add to our depth.”
Prior to making the jump to the AHL, Zykov spent three seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In 162 games, he notched 184 points (84g, 100a) and was named the QMJHL’s Rookie of the Year in 2012-13. He finished as the second leading scorer that year with 40 goals and 35 assists and added another 10 goals and 9 assists in their playoff run. Zykov also finished as their second leading scorer the following season with 23 goals, 40 assists and a plus-32 rating.
He has represented Russia in several international tournaments, including winning the bronze medal at the 2014 World Junior Championship.
*Carolina also acquired a conditional 5th-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.
Anthony Camara – winger, acquired from BOS in John-Michael Liles trade*
Camara is in his third professional season and has appeared in 33 games with the Providence Bruins of the AHL. He has five assists on the season, adding to his career stats of 35 points (12g, 23a) in 150 games.
“My physicality,” said Camara of his biggest asset in an interview with CharlotteCheckers.com. “I’m a big guy, I can get in there and get my nose dirty. I take the puck to the net and I like to shoot. I stand up for teammates. I have a strong, simple game and I want to grow from that.”
Camara was selected in the third round of the 2013 NHL Draft by the Boston Bruins. He then spent four years in the Ontario Hockey League, totaling 122 points (66g, 56a) in 245 games. On the international level, he represented Team Canada at the 2013 World Junior Championship.
*Carolina also received a 3rd-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and a 5th-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.
Dennis Robertson – defenseman, re-acquired from CHI in Drew MacIntyre trade
Robertson notched five points (2g, 3a) in 37 games with Chicago’s AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, this season. He was previously acquired by Carolina on Jan. 1, 2014, along with John-Michael Liles, in exchange for Tim Gleason. Robertson and defensive prospect Jake Massie were traded to Chicago on Sept. 11, 2015, as part of the Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom trade.
Robertson completed his first professional season with the Charlotte Checkers in 2014-15 and scored 17 points (3g, 14a), ranking second among Charlotte’s defensemen. Prior to his professional debut, Robertson completed a four-year collegiate career at Brown University. He scored 70 points (17g, 53a) in 128 games and led Brown defensemen in scoring all four seasons. Robertson served as captain his junior and senior years, and earned first-team, All-Ivy honors in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
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