The 2009 NHL Draft went according to script most of the night, and there was just one big trade (Chris Pronger heading to Philly) until the Carolina Hurricanes’ brass took center stage.
If there was a team that appeared to go “off the board” with its first-round pick – close to four hours into the drawn-out proceedings -- it was the Canes, who took Quebec Junior League forward Philippe Paradis with the 27th overall selection.
Paradis is pure French Canadian and admitted he knows little, if anything, about North Carolina. Forget ordering some BBQ with hush puppies for awhile. That probably won’t go so well when he gets to camp in a few months.
However, Paradis does know something about the Canes, though, saying he watched them in the 2009 playoffs and was glad to land with a solid organization.
The last time the Canes drafted this low as 25th in 2002 and Jim Rutherford landed goalie Cam Ward
. Not too shabby for Gentleman Jim.
Paradis fit a need for the Canes of a forward with size at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds – and at just 18 years old – he’s got a few years to fill out. However, 12 other players were ranked ahead of Paradis according TSN when Ron Francis approached the microphone in Montreal and made the selection.
On that “available list” was Landon Ferraro, the son of Ray Ferraro, who Hartford drafted in 1982 and was probably the sentimental favorite among old-time franchise fans. The Canes also passed on 6-3, 205-pound Carter Ashton, who was ranked 20th and is compared to Bill Guerin. Ashton was taken next by Tampa Bay.
But the Canes and player personal director Tony MacDonald scouted Paradis extensively this season, and had a good interview with him this week, convincing the brass he was the hard-charging forward of the future.
MacDonald liked the teenager’s 96 mph slap shot, his physical play and intensity. It also should be noted that Paradis’ team Shawinigan went to the Quebec Junior League finals, losing in a Game 7, and he plays with a bit of an edge, always a positive for a bigger player.
Paradis compared his style to former Hart Trophy winner Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames.
“I’m an intense player with good skill, good speed -- a physical guy. I finish my checks,” said Paradis, who was surprised to go in the first round, saying he believed he would be selected between rounds two and five.
The Canes aren’t noted for delving into young Quebec-area talent through the years, but Rutherford said that hasn’t been by design. And really, after the first 5-10 picks in the NHL Draft, most selections are more personal preference and need than hype and pre-draft rankings.
“He was the next best player sitting there on our list,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford was also approached several times on the floor seeking to swap picks, and passed, as he did on any trade bait that was left dangling on the draft room floor.
The Carolina GM has said all along he hopes to sign most of his free agents sitting on the fence, especially unrestricted forwards Erik Cole and Chad LaRose
“I have not been very active here,” Rutherford said. “Our goal has been to bring as much of our team back as we finished the season with. We’ll have a better idea in the next week if LaRose and Cole are going to get signed. If not, I’m going to back off the early part of July because teams pay a premium for those free agents. There will be a lot of players available in August. But I hope we don’t get to that point.”
Day Two of the draft comes fast and furious, and picking at No. 51, the Canes are eyeing a player Rutherford hopes to steal.
“We feel pretty strong about the next two rounds,” Rutherford said. “It’s a pretty deep draft.”
MacDonald’s first draft as the player personnel director landed Zach Boychuk
in the first round, who by all indications is going to be a very nice NHL player. Some may view the pick of Paradis as somewhat of a reach at No. 27. The Canes, on the other hand, are looking at a youngster who can fire the puck and isn’t shy about posting up in front of the net. And Paradis will join a group of young forwards Carolina is beginning to stock-pile to eventually help support All-Star Eric Staal