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31 in 31

Top prospects for Carolina Hurricanes

Forward Gauthier has size to make jump this season

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Carolina Hurricanes.

When the Carolina Hurricanes began their rebuild in 2014, they needed to not only remake their NHL lineup but also restock their system.

 

[HURRICANES 31 in 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the numbers]

 

Heading into the fourth season of that rebuild, they believe they have upgraded their talent enough to take the next step by qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009. That depth includes an impressive collection of young defensemen in the NHL and prospects in the American Hockey League with Charlotte and in junior that give the Hurricanes some flexibility to potentially make a trade for scoring help at forward that they need.

Video: 31 in 31: Carolina Hurricanes 2017-18 season preview

"Our depth in Charlotte and the players we have within the system I think are dramatically better," Carolina general manager Ron Francis said. "You can wish you can turn the page and it happens real quick, but sometimes it takes a little bit of patience in building it the right way, and I think we're getting much closer to where we want to be."

Here are the Hurricanes' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

 

1. Julien Gauthier, RW

How acquired: Selected with No. 21 pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: Val d'Or (QMJHL): 23 GP, 7-20-27; Saint John (QMJHL): 20 GP, 10-14-24

Gauthier, who turns 20 on Oct. 15, will make his pro hockey debut this season after a strong 2016-17 in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He might need some seasoning in the AHL before jumping to the NHL but already has the size (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) to play in the League.

Gauthier has shown he can use that size go to the dirty areas around the net to score in the QMJHL and at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he helped Canada win a silver medal with seven points (five goals, two assists) in seven games.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

2. Jake Bean, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 13 pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: Calgary (WHL): 43 GP, 8-37-45

The depth of young defensemen, which includes Noah Hanifin, 20; Brett Pesce 22; Jaccob Slavin, 23; Justin Faulk, 25; and Haydn Fleury, 21, means that, barring a trade, Bean likely will spend another season in the Western Hockey League. At 6-1, 173 pounds, the 19-year-old needs to fill out physically but is a talented skater and has the offensive skill to play in the NHL.

Although Bean missed time early in the season with a broken finger and represented Canada at the World Junior Championship (two assists in seven games), he finished fourth on Calgary with 45 points.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

3. Haydn Fleury, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 7 pick in 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: Charlotte (AHL): 69 GP, 7-19-26

Fleury might have made his NHL debut near the end of last season if he wasn't needed to help Charlotte try to qualify for the AHL playoffs. After the acquisition of defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights on June 22, the 21-year-old likely will have to beat out Klas Dahlbeck, 26, for a spot on the third defense pair or head back to the AHL at least for the start of the season.

Fleury (6-3, 221) has an NHL-ready body and developed into more of a two-way defenseman last season with Charlotte when he tied a Checkers record with a plus-16 rating.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

4. Nicolas Roy, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 96 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Chicoutimi (QMJHL): 53 GP, 36-44-80

Roy, 20, is another forward with size (6-4, 208) and strength who put up points in the QMJHL and played well for Canada at the World Junior Championship (three goals, one assist in seven games). Roy also won the Guy Carbonneau Trophy as the best defensive forward in the QMJHL last season.

If his 200-foot game translates at the professional level, Roy could make it to the NHL quickly as a two-way center.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

5. Martin Necas, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 12 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: HC Kometa Brno (Czech): 41 GP, 7-8-15

A gifted skater and playmaker, Necas, 18, played against men in the Czech Extraliga last season, skating on a line with former NHL player Martin Erat, and helped Kometa Brno win the championship. The 6-1, 167-pound Czech will need to put on some weight and get stronger, so the Hurricanes likely will give him time to develop.

Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20

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