With a nice mix of some young minor leaguers on the verge of cracking the NHL for good -- guys like Zach Boychuk
, Drayson Bowman
, Brandon Sutter
and Zac Dalpe
-- only Sutter at 6-foot-3 has good size. So, it was time for the Canes to beef up – and that’s exactly what Jim Rutherford accomplished with Carolina’s first three picks of the 2009 NHL Draft.
“Now we have some bigger guys to complement them three or four years down the road,” Rutherford said. “I think it’s really important for us.
“When you look at the team we finished the year with some people would say it was a little on the smaller side, but we eliminated two of the toughest teams from a size and physical point of view to play against. We found a way to do it, but I think it does make it easier if you have a group of bigger guys to complement your skill guys.”
Friday night’s first-round selection, Quebec native Philippe Paradis, is 6-1 and noted for finishing his checks, while second-round pick (No. 51 overall) is 6-3, 197-pounder Brian Dumoulin
from Maine. The burly defenseman had the lowest body fat (6 percent) and largest wing span (80 inches) at the NHL Combine. Dumoulin was also the defenseman of the year in the Eastern Junior Hockey League with 30 points in 41 games.
For good measure, Rutherford tabbed 6-4, 203-pound left wing Mattias Lindstrom from Sweden with Carolina’s third-round selection (88th overall). Lindstrom was described as “a huge truck on wheels” by one scouting service.
“He is a very, very big man already,” Rutherford said when describing Lindstrom. “He plays in the men’s league in Sweden, and actually puts a scare into a lot of guys there. He goes to the net, he plays the front of the net, he works the corners and plays a real physical game.”
Rutherford hates to tag players with labels, but compares Lindstrom to Detroit Red Wings pest Tomas Holmstrom.
“One of the areas he has to work on is his skating, but to be that big at this age usually it takes guys a little while for their skating to catch up,” Rutherford said.
The Canes nabbed Lindstrom ahead of a few clubs who were eager to take the big Swede.
“A few teams told us they were anxious to get him and I always like to hear that, that we’re not the only one looking at a guy at a certain place in the draft,” Rutherford said. “He’s going to be a real asset for us.”
Dumoulin is just 17 (one of the youngest players in the draft) and headed to play his college hockey at Boston College for legendary coach Jerry York. That’s a plus for the Canes, considering York has the second-most wins in Division I history and the B.C. program has produced such players as recent Hall of Fame inductee Brian Leetch, Joe Mullen, Bill Guerin, Brian Gionta, Kevin Stevens, Brooks Orpik and Carolina’s own Patrick Eaves.
“We not only look at what these guys have done but where they’re going to be developing over the next few years because that’s important. We’re real pleased (Dumoulin) is going to Boston College,” Rutherford said. “It’s a great program and that’s going to help him.”
Dumoulin, evidenced in his combine testing, is a great athlete. He also played tight end in high school and was a pitcher, shortstop and first baseman on his prep baseball team.
“All the important positions,” he said of his participation in other sports.
As far as on the ice, Dumoulin has been compared to Ryan Whitney.
“But I’m a two-way hockey player,” he said. “I can play solid defense and also jump up into the play and create some offense. I think I’m a good skater and a good passer. Some of my weaknesses are I have to work on my defensive play and get stronger in my own zone.”
Carolina went tough again with its fifth-round pick in 6-2, 203-pound right wing Matt Kennedy out of the Ontario Hockey League. In his fourth season with the Guelph Storm, Kennedy finally blossomed, registering 33 goals in 67 games. In his previous 121 games over a three-year period, he produced just 28 goals. Kennedy also had 95 and 99 penalty minutes each of the last two seasons.
It appears Carolina’s draft proficiency has picked up in the last few seasons after a major drought over the last decade. Just check out some of the second-round picks for the franchise -- players such as Bret Lysak (1999), Tomas Kurka (2000), Michael Zigomanis (2001), Danny Richmond (2003) and Nathan Hagemo (2005) -- that never amounted to much at the NHL level.
In fact, the Canes roster had just five home-grown players listed at the end of the playoffs – Eric Staal
, Cam Ward
, Niclas Wallin, Ryan Bayda and Erik Cole.
“We’ve addressed what we wanted and now the development of these guys starts,” Rutherford said of his new prospects.