RALEIGH, N.C. -- Jamieson Rees may not be ready for the NHL, but the 18-year-old Carolina Hurricanes center prospect is eager to develop his game.
"Obviously, the sooner I get there, the better it is," Rees said during Hurricanes development camp in June. "But there's little stepping stones I need to worry about on the way to get there, so I'm more focused on that right now."
Selected by Carolina in the second round (No. 44) of the 2019 NHL Draft, Rees had 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) in 37 games with Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League last season. A lacerated kidney caused him to miss two months, and he served an eight-game suspension for a blindside hit.
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"I think the only reason he was drafted in the second round is because of his injury and because he got suspended for eight games," Sarnia assistant David Legwand said. "If he played a full season, I think he's [drafted] in that 20-30 range. I would say he is a steal. Time will tell on all that. No one knows until it all plays out in a couple years."
Although the missed time was frustrating, Rees said he views his second season of junior hockey as a success.
"To miss the time that I did was definitely hard, but when I got in, I think I showed myself pretty well," he said.
His ability was on display for Canada at the 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship, where he had eight points (two goals, six assists) in seven games.
"I think I bring lots of offense and a high compete level," Rees said. "I bring a lot of energy to the game and my team. I play physical, but I would say my biggest upside is my compete level."
Though his physical game has drawn notice, Legwand said it's only a matter of time until Rees (5-foot-11, 172 pounds) gets his share of attention for creating scoring chances.
"His skill game, for the most part, is underestimated," Legwand said. "We get to see him every day in practice. Even his ability to beat defensemen 1-on-1, which is hard to do, he does on a consistent basis. His hands in tight around the net are exceptional, I think. The ability to make plays and make people miss, and make goalies miss, is there too."
While Rees looks to channel those offensive instincts into better production this season, he plans to round out his game with the skills that can accelerate his path to the NHL.
"My goal is definitely to become more of a two-way player," he said. "I think I am (already), but there are things I need to improve on in the defensive zone, so that's what I'm going to be working on."