– The Carolina Hurricanes arrived at BB&T Center on the second day of the 2015 NHL Draft expecting a busy day; after all, they possessed nine picks over six rounds.
Though a trade reduced that number of picks to eight – the team still would make two picks in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds – it remained an eventful morning and early afternoon for the Canes, who collected six forwards (three wingers and three centers), a defenseman and a goaltender to add to their haul.
“Based on getting Noah [Hanifin] in the first round, I think our priority switched more to forwards at that time with the amount of young defensemen we have in our system,” said Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis. “We also needed a goaltender, and we were able to get Callum Booth. That’s exciting.”
“I think so,” said Tony MacDonald, the Canes head amateur scout, when asked if the Canes accomplished everything they set out to this weekend. “We walked out of here with Noah Hanifin and a real good prospect in the second round, as well. With all the other players we’re willing to wait on, no one has to step in and contribute anything right away. We want them to develop, evolve and become better players.”
Size and compete level dominated the conversation surrounded the Canes’ eight picks on the second day. A quick glance at measurements, and the size aspect is evident: except for Sebastian Aho, picked 35th overall, all of the Hurricanes selections are at least six feet tall, with five players 6-foot-2 or taller.
“They all have size and good skill,” MacDonald said. “You can afford to wait on these guys.”
Aho, somewhat strangely one of two prospects named Sebastian Aho available, was not present in South Florida. MacDonald said the Hurricanes hope he can attend Prospects Development Camp in early July and the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City.
“He’s an impressive young man. We like the upside,” MacDonald said. “He’s not a real big guy, but the speed, skill and consistent level of compete are very, very attractive to us.”
After packaging their third-round pick in the trade to acquire goaltender Eddie Lack, the Canes made six total picks in rounds four through six. The team’s first pick in round four (93rd overall) was goaltender Callum Booth from Quebec of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“He’s a very highly-regarded goalie by Hockey Canada,” MacDonald said. “We wanted to take a goalie, and we’re especially pleased to get one who is a pretty accomplished athlete.”
Booth was one of three QMJHL prospects selected by Carolina; comparatively, they’ve drafted just one QMJHL product in the last five years. The Hurricanes also drafted three high school players, equal to the amount they’ve amassed in the last five years. It wasn’t strategic in any way, MacDonald explained, but rather the way the board fell.
“It was just a matter of where we had people on our list and the way we responded and reacted when their names came up,” he said. “We had some of our guys back at the war room. They sat back at the hotel and watched this evolve. They were able to feed us information from there that sometimes is more difficult to communicate at the table.”
Most, if not all, of the Hurricanes’ 2015 draft class will be at Prospects Development Camp from July 7-11. That’s when fans and the Canes’ management team alike will get their first hands-on and up-close look at the group they assembled in South Florida this weekend.
“Overall, we’re very pleased with what we got,” Francis said. “We got some skill, some size and guys who can skate.”