In case you didn’t hear, the Carolina Hurricanes have the second overall pick in the upcoming draft. No, they didn’t get the first overall pick — Carolina got something better in the long run for this (dare I say it?) mediocre franchise.
With their middle-of-the-pack finish, the Canes originally only had a 9.9 percent chance to move into the top three. However, on Saturday night, the Canes jumped from the eleventh to the second spot in the first round of the 2018 NHL draft. This most likely puts Carolina out of contention for future franchise defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, given how starved the Buffalo Sabres are on the blue line. It also means that interim GM Don Waddell, or whoever Tom Dundon hires to fill the position permanently, will get his pick of the top forwards in the draft.
Disclaimer: this isn’t sour grapes. I was saying this during the two-hour intermission where the San Jose Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights tried to kill each other, and I’ll be saying this far into the future — Dahlin is indeed another young, skilled defensemen, but that isn’t necessarily the answer to the Canes’ problems, most of which are in the scoring department.
With Jaccob Slavin and Noah Hanifin both on the left, Dahlin’s advent would have all but forced one of those two to get traded. Slavin was signed to a $64 million, 8-year contract only last summer. Hanifin is coming off of a breakout season and is due for a contract. I’d rather not see either of these key pieces leave to bring back scoring when the Canes can get that (for free) from the current draft options. What the Canes need is a star forward who can break into the league right off the bat and add some much-needed scoring, and both Andrei Svechnikov and Filip Zadina can do just that. The two wingers have been battling in the prospect rankings for the second overall pick.
Currently, Andrei Svechnikov is projected most likely to go second overall. Playing with the Barrie Colts of the OHL, Svechnikov is the younger brother to Detroit Red Wings prospect Evgeny Svechnikov (also a first round pick.) He was named OHL rookie of the year this past season, and it’s easy to see why –- Svechnikov led all rookies with 72 points in just 44 games and was fifth overall in the league in points per game with a 1.69 average.
His smooth skating and large frame make for a fairly lethal combination, as well as his ability to light up a goalie any way he wants to. A right-winger, Svechnikov could easily slot in behind Teuvo Teräväinen to spread out the scoring, and while he could certainly bulk up some more (he’s 6-3 but only 187 pounds,) he seems NHL-ready.
#OHL: RW Andrei Svechnikov (Ranked No. 1) had a hat trick, including this game winner in the 3rd as Barrie outslugged Owen Sound 6-4. Now has 14 goals in 14 games. C Aidan Dudas (Ranked No. 94) led the Platers with 1g and 2a pic.twitter.com/0GA9HXGznb
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) December 15, 2017
On the other hand, Filip Zadina had ruled the forward rankings for a good portion of the season. As Waddell said in the media scrum right after the draft lottery, having the second overall pick gives teams more leeway to, “do what they want.” A rookie with the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL (former team of last year’s first overall pick, Nico Hischier.) Zadina has found success at every level he’s played at. At the 2018 World Juniors Championship, Zadina played with 2016 Canes draft pick Martin Neças and scored seven goals in seven games. Like Svechnikov, Zadina led his league in rookie scoring with 82 points in 57 games and also finished fifth overall with 1.44 points per game.
Unlike Svechnikov, however, Zadina plays more of a two-way game and snipes more than anything else. He’d fit in well on the left wing behind Sebastian Aho and Jeff Skinner. At 6-1, 192 lbs, he is a bit smaller and the Hurricanes haven’t necessarily made a habit of using big players to score anyways.
Filip Zadina snipes short handed for goal #39. That passes Nico Hischier for 3rd in all-time Mooseheads rookie goal scoring. pic.twitter.com/ciRC1Y7H4O
— Halifax Mooseheads (@HFXMooseheads) February 19, 2018
Both players would make a great fit for this team. Whether the Canes pick Svechnikov or Zadina on June 22, fans can rest assured that they’re getting exactly what they need.
- Aho and Teräväinen will be playing for Team Finland at the 2018 IIHF World Championship. A Teräväinen – Aho – Mikko Rantanen (of Colorado Avalanche fame) line should be glorious to watch. It would also give Aho some experience at center.
- Derek Ryan and Scott Darling will also be going to Worlds. The American squad hasn’t been doing all that well on the world stage for quite some time, but they look to change that this year in Denmark.
- The Charlotte Checkers swept the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the first round of the AHL playoffs. It was the first time the Checkers had ever swept a series and the first time since 2011 that they made it out of the first round. After a goalless NHL season, defenseman Haydn Fleury scored two goals in three playoff games (the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs is best-of-five) and added two assists.