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31 in 31

Top prospects for Carolina Hurricanes

Necas, Nedeljkovic, Bean could make mark in NHL this season

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Correspondent is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the top five prospects for the Carolina Hurricanes, according to


[Hurricanes 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Behind the Numbers | Fantasy breakdown]


1. Martin Necas, F

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

Last season: Carolina: 7 GP, 1-1-2; Charlotte (AHL): 64 GP, 16-36-52

Expectations were high for Necas entering last season, but his adjustment to North American hockey after playing in the Czech Extraliga, the top league in his native Czech Republic, proved challenging and he spent most of it in the American Hockey League. The 20-year-old played in the first seven games with Carolina, averaging 10:01 of ice time per game before he was sent down Oct. 17 to get more playing time and work on his play away from the puck.

Necas (6-foot-2, 189 pounds) has the offensive skill to play among the Hurricanes' top nine forwards. They plan to shift him from center to right wing to start the season to help him simplify his game and give him a better opportunity to make the team in training camp.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: CAR@TBL: Necas records first NHL goal on a one-timer


2. Alex Nedeljkovic, G

How acquired: Selected with No. 37 pick in 2014 NHL Draft 

Last season: Carolina: 1 GP, 1-0-0; 2.00 GAA, .923 SV%; Charlotte (AHL): 51 GP, 34-14-1, 2.26 GAA, .916 SV%

Nedeljkovic appears to be NHL-ready after winning the Aldege "Baz" Bastien Memorial Award as the best goalie in the AHL last season and helping Charlotte win the Calder Cup by going 10-4 with a 2.34 GAA, .916 save percentage and one shutout in the playoffs. Carolina plans to give the 23-year-old an opportunity to compete in training camp, with veteran James Reimer and Anton Forsberg, to be the backup to Petr Mrazek.

Nedeljkovic (6-0, 189) can be sent to the AHL without clearing waivers to begin the season, so the Hurricanes have that option if there isn't room for him on their opening-night roster.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: CAR@VAN: Nedeljkovic denies Baertschi at the doorstep


3. Jake Bean, D

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

Last season: Carolina: 2 GP, 0-0-0; Charlotte (AHL): 70 GP, 13-31-44

Bean demonstrated his offensive skill in his first pro season, finishing second among AHL rookie defensemen with 44 points (behind St. Louis Blues prospect Mitch Reinke of San Antonio). The 21-year-old needs to continue to improve his defensive-zone play to have a chance to play regularly in the NHL.

Bean (6-1, 186) likely will begin the season with Charlotte again, but he'll be a top candidate to be called up as an injury replacement.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: 31 in 31: Carolina Hurricanes 2019-20 season preview


4. Ryan Suzuki, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 28 pick in 2019 NHL Draft 

Last season: Barrie (OHL): 65 GP, 25-50-75

A playmaking center who led Barrie in points and assists last season, Suzuki potentially could combine with Sebastian Aho to someday give the Hurricanes a formidable one-two punch down the middle. The younger brother of Montreal Canadiens forward prospect Nick Suzuki (selected No. 13 by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 draft), the 18-year-old likely is at least two seasons from being ready for the NHL. 

The Hurricanes were familiar with Ryan Suzuki (6-0, 176) from watching him as Barrie teammates in 2017-18 with forward Andrei Svechnikov, whom they selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Projected NHL arrival: 2021-22


5. Eetu Luostarinen, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 42 pick in 2017 NHL Draft 

Last season: KalPa (FIN): 54 GP, 15-21-36

Luostarinen made the commitment to play in North America this season, signing a three-year, entry-level contract with Carolina on May 30, after playing with KalPa in Liiga, Finland's top pro league, for the past three seasons. The center, who turns 21 on Sept. 2, tied for the KalPa lead in goals last season and was second in points behind Columbus Blue Jackets forward prospect Alexandre Texier (41). Luostarinen helped Finland win the 2019 IIHF World Championship.

Still growing, Luostarinen (6-3, 184) is likely to begin the season in Charlotte to let him adjust to the smaller North American rink.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

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