7.8.24 FUS

RALEIGH, NC. - This time last year Felix Unger Sorum arrived in Raleigh for Prospects Development Camp just two weeks removed from being the youngest player selected in the 2023 NHL Draft.

Then still 17 years old, the fresh-faced second-round selection laced up the skates and showed Hurricanes brass what he could do while wearing the logo for the first time.

That turned out to be another step in what has been a meteoric rise in stock for the Norwegian-born forward.

Impressing mightily over the course of a few days, he signed a three-year entry-level contract just days after camp had ended, but all implications were that he'd be back with the Leksands program in Sweden for the 2023-24 season. Returning to North Carolina for the big club's training camp in September, he dazzled again and made sending him back overseason a difficult decision.

One of the final cuts from the team's training camp roster, Unger Sorum became a darling to the fan base, leaving many eager to see more after his showings during preseason games with the big club.

"I didn't have so many expectations before (last year's) camp, it was just really fun that I got the chance to be there," he reflected. "Of course, you get confidence from (coming that close to making the roster). It was a big confidence boost and I just tried to build on it when I got home."

Despite being eligible to play on Leksands' U20 team, Unger Sorum played 35 of his 36 league games with the top club, competing against men much older than him in the SHL. Also going on to play 35 games representing Sweden at four various levels of international play, he was even named to the World Championship roster this spring, skating with and against some of the best players in the world.

"It was fun, I learned a lot," the up-and-comer reflected on the campaign that was. "I got a chance to play on the power play and they gave me a good opportunity, so I'm thankful for that."

Although the point production of three goals and 12 assists with Leksands may not jump off the page, both the player and the Canes front office saw plenty of growth from his game.

"You learn a lot (in that situation). Obviously, I've still got to try and do my thing even though they're bigger than me," Unger Sorum continued speaking on his SHL time. "I've still got to try and protect the puck and do stuff like that, but you play with the older guys too, so you can learn from them too."

Someone who got to not only watch the young forward play at that level but coach against him was new Chicago Wolves head coach Cam Abbott, who is playing a key role in this week's camp.

Leading Rögle BK for the first half of last season, the former opposing bench boss sees all the potential in Unger Sorum.

"He's a very talented player that has a bright future," Abbott shared on Monday's first day of camp at Invisalign Arena. "One of his talents, for sure, is that vision, that playmaking ability, and the hockey sense that he does have. There's a whole lot of areas that as he improves are going to be more obvious to us all how skilled and smart of a player he is."

Citing scoring and going to the dirty areas as parts of his game that he'd like to continue evolving, it's fair to wonder where Unger Sorum will be working on those things in the fall.

For right now, he's not thinking about that.

"I haven't thought about it so much, I just try and take it day by day. I train as much as I can and just try to go out and play my game," he continued. "I do my best and we'll see where that takes me."

What adds to the intrigue of where he'll be playing were the remarks of new general manager Eric Tulsky on July 1 -

"Part of what we are doing at this point is making sure (our younger guys) have an opportunity to step into bigger roles. We have some young players in the NHL who are ready to grow. We have some players who are just a little bit away from the NHL who are ready to step into NHL roles. Seeing them continue to take steps forward is a big part of how we keep this going. Leaving them the opportunity is part of the job here. Ultimately, it's a balancing act. We aren't in a rebuild. We aren't turning things over completely to the kids. But we do need to leave room for them to keep growing and keep assuming newer and bigger roles."

An expected summer of transition for the Canes saw them lose the likes of important forwards Jake Guentzel, Stefan Noesen, and Teuvo Teravainen. Although newcomers like William Carrier and Jack Roslovic will fill two of those spots, there are still a few question marks when drafting a mock lineup for the team's regular season opener on October 11 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Admitting that he’d like to add some more muscle to his listed from of 5-foot-10, 170 lbs., Unger Sorum, who looks visibly bigger than this time last year, won’t let his physical shortcomings won’t hold him back from playing his game - no matter where he’s playing this fall.

"[I'm just going to] go out and play," he finished with. "I usually don't think so much when I'm on the ice. I don't think so much before the games or stuff like that. I'm just really happy I get the opportunity to be at camps like this or games, in Sweden or wherever I am. I'm just really thankful for the opportunity."