In this two-part series, we take a look at the performance of some of the Hurricanes' top prospects in the 2015-16 season.
Sebastian Aho (2015, second round)
Sebastian Aho had a successful year, both in international competition and in the Finnish Elite League, after being drafted by the Hurricanes last June. Highlights include winning the gold medal with Finland at the World Junior Championships and winning the bronze medal with Karpat in the Finnish Elite League playoffs.
Aho tallied 45 points (20g, 25a) in 45 regular season games with Karpat of SM-liiga. He scored 4 goals and 11 assists during Karpat’s playoff run, with two of those assists coming in the bronze medal game. Aho’s offensive production earned him the honor of the Matti Keinoen Trophy, the best plus/minus in the league. The 18-year-old also finished second in SM-liiga MVP voting.
While representing Finland at World Juniors, Aho centered the top-scoring line of Jesse Puljujarvi and Patrik Laine. The line combined for 44 points and finished as the top three leading scorers of the tournament. Aho scored 14 points (5g, 9a), producing points in six out of Finland’s seven games. He was named one of Finland’s top three players in the tournament.
Aho will once again represent his home country of Finland at the World Championships, which begin later this week.
Nicolas Roy (2015, fourth round)
Nicolas Roy represented the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for a third season. The 19-year-old center finished first in the league in goals (48) and finished seventh in points (90).
Roy led the Sagueneens in both of those categories, was third in assists (42) and finished the season with a plus-17 rating. He also showed dominance in the faceoff circle, winning 60.5 percent of faceoffs taken and ranking second in the league in faceoffs won (913).
Chicoutimi made an early first-round exit in the QMJHL playoffs, but Roy tallied 7 points (3g, 4 assists) in their six playoff games.
After being drafted by the Canes last summer (96th overall), Roy compared his style of play to Jordan Staal.
“I think I’m a two-way player. I’m good on faceoffs,” he said. “I can be very good offensively. I have really good vision. I’m really good defensively, too.”
Andrew Poturalski (undrafted, signed as free agent)
The Hurricanes and Andrew Poturalski agreed to terms on a two-year, entry-level contract on March 8. Poturalski had a breakout sophomore season at the University of New Hampshire, finishing second in scoring in the NCAA with 52 points (22g, 30a). The Hobey Baker finalist scored 24 of his 52 points on the power play.
Poturalski won the Hockey East scoring title and was twice named Hockey East's Player of the Month. He finished eighth in the nation in goals and seventh in points. In two seasons with the Wildcats, he scored 36 goals and 45 assists.
Poturalski made his professional debut with the Charlotte Checkers on March 12. He immediately contributed offensively, scoring one of Charlotte’s six goals in their victory over the Rockford IceHogs. The 22-year-old played 16 games in Charlotte, producing 5 points (2g, 3a).
Aleksi Saarela (via NYR, Eric Staal trade)
In his second season with Assat Pori of SM-liiga, Aleksi Saarela scored a career-high 33 points (20g, 13a) in 51 games. The 19-year-old finished first in goals and third in points for Assat.
After acquiring Saarela, Canes General Manager and Executive Vice President Ron Francis said he views Saarela as more of a goal-scorer than a playmaker.
“We think there’s some good upside to him," Francis said.
In 117 games in the Finnish Elite League, Saarela has totaled 49 points (27g, 22a). Comparing his point production from this season (33) to last season (12) illustrates his offensive progression and upside.
Saarela also represented Finland in this year’s World Junior Championships, notching 7 points (4g, 3a), including an assist on the game-winning overtime goal in the gold medal game against Russia.
He recently signed a one-year contract with his former team, Lukko Rauma of SM-liiga.
Lucas Wallmark (2014, fourth round)
Lucas Wallmark completed his third season with Lulea HF of the Swedish Hockey League. The 20-year-old center tallied 32 points (8g, 24a) and an additional 9 points (7g, 2a) in 11 playoff games. Wallmark ranked first in assists and third in points for Lulea.
He signed a three-year entry level contract with the Hurricanes last June and will likely play in North America next season.
In his end-of-season media availability, Canes General Manager and Executive Vice President Ron Francis noted that Wallmark looked good in the Traverse City tournament and during camp last year.
“It will be interesting to see how he is another year older and stronger and where he fits moving forward,” Francis said.
Wallmark will represent his home country of Sweden in his first World Championships.
is the Marketing Coordinator for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email