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Boychuk was best option for Hurricanes

by Mike G. Morreale

OTTAWA -- After becoming the first team to win the Stanley Cup and then miss out on qualifying for the playoffs the next two seasons, the Carolina Hurricanes set out to establish depth and strength throughout their lineup during the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Choosing No. 14 overall – the lowest first-round selection since selecting goalie Cam Ward at No. 25 in 2002 – the Hurricanes added lightning-quick center Zach Boychuk of the Western Hockey League’s Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Despite the loss of defensemen Glen Wesley to retirement and Bret Hedican to free agency, Carolina’s Director of Amateur Scouting, Tony MacDonald, admitted the club stuck to its philosophy of choosing the best player on the board, regardless of position.

“You have to take the approach in drafting kids this age that very few of them are ready to step in and play right away,” he said. “When you go to the best player available, it gives you a better chance. Just because you need a defenseman in your lineup today and that’s a need, you’re not necessarily going to fill that need right away with the player that you take in this draft.”

True to his word, the Hurricanes drafted three forwards, one defenseman and one goalie.
Here is a look at Carolina’s 2008 NHL Entry Draft class:

No. 14 Zach Boychuk, C, Lethbridge (WHL) -- Ranked No. 8 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting – and the No. 3 forward – Boychuk has the tools to excel in today's NHL. Despite his 5-foot-10 and 175-pound stature, Boychuk has the speed and elusiveness that can leave bigger defensemen flat-footed. He had 33 goals and 72 points in 61 regular-season games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western Hockey League. He also led the WHL playoffs with 11 goals, and was second in scoring with 21 points. Boychuk has also succeeded on an international level, helping Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2008 World Junior Championships.

“I’d say (Boychuk) has all the tools necessary to play in the NHL someday,” said Ron Francis, Carolina’s Director of Player Development. “He’s very quick, can score and has great hockey sense.”

No. 45 Zac Dalpe, C/RW, Penticton (BCHL) – Dalpe, who’ll attend Ohio State University in 2008-09, ranked fifth in the British Columbia Hockey League with 63 points (27 goals, 36 assists) in 46 regular-season games with Penticton. In the playoffs, his inspiring play helped lead the Vees to the BCHL championship behind eight goals and 17 points. Dalpe (6-foot, 170-pounds) was ranked No. 16 among North American skaters by Central Scouting. Dalpe, who can play either center or wing, patterns his game after Colorado’s Joe Sakic.

No. 105 Michal Jordan, D, Plymouth (OHL) – The 17-year-old blue liner joined the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League via a trade in 2007-08, scoring six goals and adding 22 assists in 61 games last season with Windsor and Plymouth. The native of Zlin, Czech Republic, won the gold medal at the 2008 World Under-18 Junior Championships playing for his country and was named the Whalers’ Rookie of the Year for 2007-08. At 6-foot-2, 181 pounds, Jordan, who was unranked by Central Scouting, is an intimidating sight along the blue line.

No. 165 Mike Murphy, G, Belleville (OHL) – Murphy led the Belleville Bulls to the OHL’s second-best regular-season record (36-7-4) in 2007-08, posting OHL-bests with a 2.24 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.

No. 195 Samuel Morneau, LW, Baie-Comeau (QMJHL) – Morneau, 18, collected 23 goals and 18 assists in 68 regular-season games with Baie-Comeau of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2007-08.

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