There were some definite moments of deja vu in the Hurricanes camp on the second 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
After taking Brandon Sutter 11th overall in the first round, the team used their next two choices on Drayson Bowman and Justin McCrae, also centers from the western hockey league.
After that, Carolina
used their next two picks on Chris Terry
and Brett Bellemore
, members of the OHL champion Plymouth Whalers, who, like the Hurricanes, are owned by Peter Karmanos Jr.
Besides the obvious similarities between their positions and origins of the Hurricanes first three picks, the scouting reports for all three read the same way: smart, two-way forwards who can contribute at both ends.
“I call players like these ‘hockey players,’” said Hurricanes Director of Amateur Scouting Sheldon Ferguson, who was very excited to be able to take Bowman and McCrae in the third and fourth rounds, respectively. “They’ve all got very, very good hockey sense. They all understand the game very well, and they want to play. The desire in all these kids is very, very good.”
While Ferguson said it wasn’t the team’s intention to focus on drafting players from the Western Hockey League, which is a division of Canadian junior hockey, he did point to positive traits that players from this area typically exhibit.
“One thing we know about these kids from the west, and you guys know this about Andrew Ladd a little bit, is that there’s never a question about whether they want to play or not,” he said.
Another high-profile player the Hurricanes drafted from the WHL in recent years is current starting goaltender Cam Ward, who, like Sutter, also played for the Red Deer Rebels.
According to Ferguson, the mental makeup of draft choices can be just as important as their physical skills. That being said, Ferguson feels the team hit a home run with the trio from out west.
“I think the toughest thing that we do is try to figure out the character,” he said.
“These kids have worked very, very hard to get to where they are at this point in their career, and I don’t think you can ever have enough character.
It’s not always the best players that win, but it’s always the best team, and we’ve drafted three real good team guys.”
As for the next two picks, the Hurricanes kept it in the family by drafting the two players from the Whalers. Terry, a 5’10” left wing, was able to score 66 points in 68 games despite a slow start to the year caused by off-season knee surgery. Bellemore, a big 6’4” defenseman, led the entire Canadian Hockey League with a +48 plus/minus rating.
Terry, who besides Sutter was the only Hurricanes choice to attend the draft, said he was hoping to be selected by the Hurricanes.
“I’m pretty familiar [with the Hurricanes], being that Mr. Karmanos owns the Hurricanes and also the Whalers, which I play on,” he said. We have a lot of banners and pictures around our building and our head coach is always talking about them.”
Finally, needing to fill out the roster in their AHL affiliate in Albany, the Hurricanes traded their last pick in the seventh round, 192nd overall, to Montreal for 26-year-old goaltender Michael Leighton. Leighton played five NHL games with the Flyers and Predators last season after starting the season with the Ducks.