RALEIGH, NC (June 2, 2000) – Jim Rutherford, CEO and General Manager of the National Hockey League Carolina Hurricanes, announced today the team has agreed to terms on a multi-year contract with forward Jeff Heerema. As per club policy, no terms were released. The contract was finalized just prior to the midnight deadline on June 1, 2000, for 1998 Entry Draft picks.
“Any time you can agree on a contract with your top draft pick of a given year, it is a significant signing,” stated Rutherford. “Jeff was the eleventh player chosen overall in the 1998 Entry Draft. There are always big expectations for a number one pick, and he has proven throughout his junior career that he can score goals and put up points each season. He also is at the head of a draft class that could prove to be one of the best drafts in the history of this franchise. We have signed six of the nine eligible players we drafted, including Tommy Westlund, who we picked in the fourth round.”
Heerema, 20, has spent the last three seasons with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. A native of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Heerema played in 67 games for Sarnia during the 1999-2000 season, leading the Sting in goals (36), assists (41), and points (77). The right wing also played for Team West in the 2000 OHL All-Star Game. In his three-year career with Sarnia, Heerema tallied 219 points (99g, 120a) in 192 games and totaled 263 penalty minutes.
Heerema (6’1’’, 190 lbs.) was the Hurricanes number one draft pick (11th overall) in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. He was named to the OHL’s second All-Rookie Team in 1998 after scoring 72 points (32g, 40a) in his first season with Sarnia. Heerema helped lead Sarnia to the OHL playoffs in his first two seasons with the Sting.
Other players drafted and signed from the Hurricanes’ 1998 NHL Entry Draft include Erik Cole (third round, 71st overall), Josef Vasicek (fourth round, 91st overall), Tommy Westlund (fourth round, 93rd overall), Jaroslav Svoboda (eighth round, 208th overall), and Brent McDonald (ninth round, 239th overall). Mark Kosick (eighth round, 211th pick) is still playing college hockey for Michigan and did not have to be signed by June 1, 2000.