Carolina Hurricanes: Looking at the Franchise’s Top Prospects
The Carolina Hurricanes AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers won the Calder Cup against the Chicago Wolves in five games. With Charlotte winning the AHL championship, this potentially means that fun times are ahead in Raleigh, North Carolina. Carolina made it to the postseason for the first time since 2008-2009 and the Hurricanes reached the conference finals and got swept against the Boston Bruins.
Rod Brind’Amour was in his first year as head coach and players bought into his system. He has a lot of young players that he is waiting to work with. The Hurricanes have one of the best prospect pools in the entire NHL and they will look to load up once again in the 2019 NHL Draft. Carolina will either have nine or ten draft picks in the upcoming draft. Who are currently some of their top prospects in their system?
Right winger Stelio Mattheos is the best prospect in the Carolina Hurricanes system. He is only 19 years old and Mattheos recently signed a three-year entry-level deal with Carolina this season. He was a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. Stelio Mattheos scored 44 goals and recorded 52 assists, in 65 games in the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings. His plus/minus was 17. In 11 games with the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL, he scored two goals and recorded one assist. His plus/minus was 1. In 14 postseason games with them, Matheos has scored three goals and recorded one assist. His plus/minus rating was even. Stelio Matheos has the potential to be on the top two lines in the NHL one day and he adjusted well from juniors to the AHL. Mattheos will most likely be starting next season with Charlotte, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in Carolina at some point.
Centerman Aleksi Saarela was drafted in the third round of the 2015 NHL Draft by the New York Rangers. He is only 22 years old. Saarela may be no more than a third or a fourth line centerman at the NHL level. Aleksi Saarela has played the last few seasons in the AHL with the Charlotte Checkers. In 69 games played, he has scored 30 goals and recorded 24 assists. His plus/minus was 12. In 17 postseason games, Saarela has scored seven goals and recorded eight assists. His plus/minus was 10.
Centerman Martin Necas is only 20 years old and he was the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. It is very possible Necas could be an everyday player next season at the NHL level. He is very talented and has a knack of being an offensive machine. In 64 games with the Charlotte Checkers, Martin Necas scored 16 goals and recorded 36 assists. His plus/minus was 20. In 18 postseason games, he scored five goals and recorded eight assists. His plus/minus was 6. Necas also appeared in seven NHL games and he scored one goal and recorded one assist. His plus/minus rating was even.
Forward Jacob Pritchard signed a contract with the Carolina Hurricanes after his college season was over. He played in 41 games with UMass-Amherst and he scored 16 goals and recorded 31 assists. His plus/minus was 8. Pritchard played in eight postseason games with the Charlotte Checkers and he scored one goal. His plus/minus was 2. Jacob Pritchard is 22 years old and he is a strong player. Pritchard has a lot of upside, but he will most likely develop all of next season in the AHL.
Centerman Morgan Geekie was a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft for the Carolina Hurricanes and he is only 20 years old. Geekie played the entire year in the AHL after playing the year before in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans. In 74 games with the Charlotte Checkers, he scored 19 goals and recorded 27 assists. His plus/minus was 24.
In 19 postseason games, Morgan Geekie scored eight goals and recorded 10 assists. His plus/minus was 13. Geekie will most likely start next season with the Charlotte Checkers in the 2019-2029 season, but it is also possible he cracks the Carolina Hurricanes roster at some point. His potential is a third or a fourth line centerman.
Defenseman Luke Henman was a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. Carolina is very deep on defense in the farm system. Henman could very well crack the NHL in a couple of years. He played in 63 games with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in the QMJHL. In 63 games played, Luke Henman scored 12 goals and recorded 34 assists. His plus/minus was -7. Henman is a solid two-way defenseman. He is only 19 years old.
Defenseman Jake Bean was the 13th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. Bean is ready to be a full-time player at the NHL level next season. General Manager Ronnie Francis will have a big decision to make this offseason in which defenseman he needs to trade in order to make room for Bean. He scored 13 goals and recorded 31 assists, in 70 games last season in the AHL with the Charlotte Checkers. His plus/minus was 17. Jake Bean played in 15 postseason games and he scored one goal and recorded four assists. His plus/minus was 10. Bean is 21 years old and he is an excellent skater.
Jake Bean is also very intelligent on the back end and he is also a solid two-way player. Bean also played in two games with the Carolina Hurricanes this past season and he didn’t score or record an assist. His plus/minus was even.
Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic is the goalie of the future for the Carolina Hurricanes. I don’t expect Carolina to bring back either Curtis McElhinney or Petr Mrazek next season. Nedeljkovic’s record down in the minors this past season was 34-14-1 with a .916 save percentage and a 2.26 GAA, along with four shutouts.
He also appeared in one NHL start this past season and Alex Nedeljkovic played well in that game and also won it. He had a .923 save percentage and a 2.00 GAA.
In 15 postseason starts, his record was 10-4 with a .916 save percentage. His GAA was 2.34 and he also recorded one shutout.
Nedeljkovic was a second-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft and he is 23 years old. I don’t expect him to be playing any more games in the AHL in the near future because I think it is very possible that Alex Nedeljkovic will be the starting goalie next season with the Carolina Hurricanes. He also has a calm demeanor about his game and Nedeljkovic always seems to make a big save.
The Carolina Hurricanes have a bright future ahead of them and they could win a Stanley Cup title or two in the near future.
How do you feel about the future of the Carolina Hurricanes? Leave a comment below.
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