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McGinn, Fleury among Hurricanes' top 10 prospects

by Adam Kimelman

The Carolina Hurricanes have shown a willingness the past few seasons to give significant roles to players just a few months after they were drafted. Since the 2008-09 season Zach Boychuk, Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm all saw action as 18-year-olds, with varying levels of success.

But with Ron Francis taking over as general manager, the club could start preaching a bit more patience with its younger players in allowing them to develop physically into NHL players.

"Everybody needs to get stronger," Hurricanes director of defense development Glen Wesley said. "That's one of the things if the guy is coming from junior or college he has to get better at, if it's the American Hockey League or the National Hockey League. You're playing against grown men and it's a completely different game. That's one of the things you have to be prepared for when you take the next step in your development."

Forward Brock McGinn could be on the doorstep of a job with the Carolina Hurricanes. (Photo: Getty Images)

Here's a look at the Hurricanes' top 10 prospects, according to

1. Brock McGinn, LW

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 47), 2012 draft

Last season: 58 GP, 43-42-85, plus-46, Guelph, OHL

The 20-year-old forward raised his key offensive numbers for a third straight season, and helped Guelph win the Ontario Hockey League title and advance to the championship game of the Memorial Cup. After four junior seasons, McGinn (6-foot, 185 pounds) make the move to professional hockey this season. Whether that's with the Hurricanes or in the AHL will be determined at training camp.

"I think the biggest thing with Brock is his maturation with his offensive game," Wesley said. "He took it to a completely different level from where it was in the past. … He can surprise a lot of people coming out of training camp. There's been many surprises that people have witnessed. I would never count that out for him. I'm sure he's going to get an opportunity [to play in the NHL]. It's up to him to take the bull by the horns, and if it's available for him that's great. If not, it's not a bad thing for him to continue to make progress with his game and start in the American league and continue to work his way."

Projected NHL arrival: 2014-15

2. Haydn Fleury, D

How acquired: 1st round (No. 7), 2014 draft

Last season: 70 GP, 8-38-46, Red Deer, WHL

The second defenseman chosen at the 2014 NHL Draft earned recognition from scouts for his big body (6-2, 203) and strong play in all three zones. Though the Carolina defense corps could use a player with Fleury's skill set, Wesley said the organizational opinion with Fleury is there's no need to rush the talented 18-year-old into the NHL.

"I think there certainly is room for improvement with his [offensive] numbers," Wesley said. "He sees the ice real well, he can slow the play down. He skates well. That's only going to get better, which is the scary part about that with the whole package with him. I think the biggest thing for him as a defenseman is continuing to learn to read plays, understand plays, his gap control, that good first pass coming out of the zone. All those things are not easy adjustments to make. I think over time he's going to learn to get better and better throughout the season and he's going to be an important part of our future for a long, long time.

"For him to develop and to make progress and be able to continue to learn and get better at his own game, it's not going to be a terrible thing for him to go back to junior for another year and continue to make progress."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

3. Phillip Di Giuseppe, LW

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 38), 2012 draft

Last season: 35 GP, 13-11-24, Michigan, BIG 10

Di Giuseppe, 20, had his best collegiate season in 2013-14 and it earned him a contract with the Hurricanes and the chance to start his professional career this season.

"He's got a great skill set," Wesley said. "He's got a great set of hands. He sees the ice well. He's got a real good first three steps. He's going to be a type of guy that's going to have to give and go. He will continue to grow into his body (6-0, 197), get bigger and stronger, but he's a guy that obviously can skate and that's one of his assets with his speed. Speed intimidates, and that's one of the things he has to do consistently in order to have success. That's one of the things that we're going to preach to him, to hammer across, to get better and better at. That's going to open up other areas for his linemates."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

4. Victor Rask, C

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 42), 2011 draft

Last season: 76 GP, 16-23-39, Charlotte, AHL

In his first full professional season, Rask, 21 (6-2, 200) started slow but finished strong with seven goals and 15 points in his final 23 games.

"I think the second-half progression for him, I thought he took some major steps," Wesley said. "He's got a very good shot, he's got good vision, and for him, his size, his speed is something that can be improved on and be able to work on. He's another guy that we have high hopes for and hope he'll be able to continue to be a major contributor in the future for us."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

5. Jaccob Slavin, D

How acquired: 4th round (No. 120), 2012 draft

Last season: 32 GP, 5-20-25, Colorado College, NCHC

The 20-year-old (6-1, 180) had a solid freshman season at Colorado College, making the conference's All-Rookie team and earning a spot with the United States at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship.

"He has great offensive tools," Wesley said. "He sees the ice well. He's got great playmaking abilities. One of the biggest things for him is to continue to establish his two-way game and just continue to get better at that. … I think it's instilling that confidence in him that he can be a major contributor to the program."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

6. Brett Pesce, D

How acquired: 3rd round (No. 66), 2013 draft

Last season: 41 GP, 7-14-21, New Hampshire, Hockey East

The 19-year-old stepped up his play in a big way in his second season at New Hampshire. At 6-3, 190, he learned to use his size to his advantage, which helped him mostly in the defensive zone.

"One of the things that stood out to me and impressed is the way he battles and his work ethic, especially away from the puck," Wesley said, "Being able to box out, and when he's going into a corner and battling for pucks he's winning those battles and moving those pucks out. For him, being able to work, especially with his gap control, his strength, his conditioning, it's all those things that are combined to be a real solid defenseman. He could be a guy that certainly could play on the power play. I think it's up to him to see where that future for him is going to be at. He can certainly fire the puck. He's got a great shot. That's up to him to continue to develop that at UNH."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

7. Trevor Carrick, D

How acquired: 4th round (No. 115), 2012 draft

Last season: 70 GP, 22-29-51, Mississauga/Sudbury, OHL

An offensive-minded defenseman, Carrick, 20 (6-2, 180) continued his upward trajectory, raising his totals in goals, assists and points once again. He still needs to get better in the defensive zone; that growth will come in the American Hockey League this season.

"One of the biggest things for him is taking advantage of utilizing his speed, making sure he's got a good first pass coming out of his own end," Wesley said. "He's obviously got a very good shot and he can get it off in a hurry. That’s one of his strengths, being able to play on the power play. The other part of that is for him continuing to develop and work on his game in his own end. Part of that is being able to get bigger and stronger off ice and that commitment that it takes. I think he understands that. Having discussions with him and what it takes on a day-to-day basis for him to be a pro, I think he's learning that and we're excited to see where his future is going to evolve. He's got a good head on his shoulders and he's got a very bright future."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

8. Erik Karlsson, LW

How acquired: 4th round (No. 99), 2012 draft

Last season: 41 GP, 5-1-6, Frolunda, SWE

The 19-year-old took advantage of his first extended ice time in the Swedish Hockey League last season, and also helped Sweden win a silver medal with a good effort at the 2014 Word Junior Championship. It was impressive enough that the Hurricanes signed Karlsson (6-0, 170) to an entry-level contract in March and hope to have him in North America this season.

"Erik played well at the World Juniors and has shown improvement each year since he was drafted," Francis said. "He has good speed and adds to our team's organizational depth at forward."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

9. Alex Nedeljkovic, G

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 37), 2014 draft

Last season: 61 GP, 26-27-7, 2.88 GAA, .925 save percentage, Plymouth, OHL

His win/loss record might not stand out, but the team in front of him didn't do him many favors, scoring the second-fewest goals in the Ontario Hockey League, and Plymouth lost in the first round of the playoffs despite the 18-year-old having a 1.84 goals-against average in six games. Nedeljkovic (6-0, 190) will have a chance to play for the United States at the 2015 World Junior Championship.

"He's got great puck control," Wesley said. "He's almost to me like a vacuum cleaner when pucks come in around him. He controls his rebounds well. He fights to see pucks that are coming in from the point. He handles the puck pretty decent. He's a guy that we're very excited for, especially with where we got him in the draft."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

10. Collin Olson, G

How acquired: 6th round (No. 159), 2012 draft

Last season: 20 GP, 12-3-1, 2.31 GAA, .923 save percentage, Sioux City, USHL

It was an odd season for Olson, who left Ohio State University after two games looking for more playing time. An NCAA rule forced him to return to the United States National Team Development Program in the middle of the season before he finally found a spot with Sioux City.

The move to Sioux City was a good one and he'll likely be back there in the fall. Olson, 20 (6-3, 205)  will need another strong season to remain a key piece of the Hurricanes moving forward.

Projected NHL arrival: 2018-19


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