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Rookies Live Up

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
Fittingly, the three players Jim Rutherford singled out for praise on Thursday went on to star in the 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild later that day, clinching the 2009 NHL Prospects Tournament for the Hurricanes.

Paul Branecky
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Zach Boychuk scored the winning goal with a highlight-reel effort to give him four goals in four games, Brandon Sutter scored his third point of the tournament with a shorthanded tally and goaltender Mike Murphy made 31 saves for a team that was actually out-shot in three of four games on the road to the title.

Those three players, along with rookie camp teammates Drayson Bowman, Chris Terry, Matt Kennedy, Nick Dodge, Jamie McBain and Brett Bellemore now head to Raleigh to join the veterans at the Hurricanes’ training camp, which officially gets underway Saturday with physicals and photos before the players hit the ice for the first time on Sunday at 10 a.m.

Not all the players at rookie camp received an invite, as the big club’s camp will run somewhat smaller this year than in seasons past.  Forty-one players received invites, as opposed to 59 from last season when all eligible Hurricanes draft picks and a handful of veteran tryouts were asked to participate. Also, a few players will be proceeding directly to the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate in Albany for camp.

It might be a little surprising to see Philippe Paradis, the Canes’ first-round pick in June, sent home to his junior team without coming to Carolina’s camp, but that probably says more about the depth of the organization as a whole than it does about the young forward. Those receiving invites to Raleigh are older, have been in the organization for a year or two longer and will be playing professionally next season.

All in all, an impressive showing by the Canes’ prospects, who lived up to the hype in beating out their counterparts from seven other NHL teams. On paper, it doesn’t seem as though the Hurricanes team will have room for one of these players right out of the gate, but if a few of them continue at this pace, one can never say for sure.

A few quick notes from around the league:

  • Former Hurricanes forward Ryan Bayda has received an invite to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ training camp. He may or may not crack the NHL roster, but he and his agent obviously feel as though he has a good chance to appear in games as an AHL call-up if he were to receive a two-way deal. That wouldn’t necessarily be the case in Carolina, where such competition will be intense. Best of luck to Bayda.
  • Theo Fleury, best known for his work with the Calgary Flames in the ‘90s, was officially cleared to begin his NHL comeback attempt after entering the league’s substance abuse program in 2006.

    No room for him here, obviously, but hopefully one of my all-time favorite players has gotten past his problems and can stick somewhere. It was a lot harder to play at 5-foot-6 in the ‘90s than it is now, which made his career point-per-game pace all the more remarkable. I remember the time he lost his jersey in a fight and went to the penalty box without one, leading him to accept an autograph-covered Fleury jersey from a fan sitting near the glass. He put it on and tried to play with it, but the referees sent him back. Good times.
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