The Carolina Hurricanes entered the 2019 NHL Entry Draft with 10 picks, tied for the most picks of all the teams in the league, and left with 12 new prospects.
Carolina participated in three trades on the draft floor. The Hurricanes traded the 37th pick to the Ottawa Senators for the 44th and 83rd picks, the 59th pick to the Minnesota Wild for the 73rd and 99th picks, and the Canes also absorbed the Patrick Marleau contract from the Toronto Maple Leafs, along with Toronto’s first-round pick in 2020 and a seventh-round pick in 2020 in exchange for Carolina’s sixth-round pick in 2020.
Marleau has one more year left on his contract at $6.25 million, and while Carolina has stated that it has an interest in keeping Marleau if he wants to play in Carolina, the odds are that Marleau will be bought out. The buyout carries around a $3.8 million price tag, but the cap hit will be the full $6.25 million for next season. Essentially, the Hurricanes will have purchased a mid-to-late first-round selection for $3.8 million if they buy out Marleau.
The Canes had six of their own seven selections in the draft as well as the Buffalo Sabres’ second-round pick (36) as part of the Jeff Skinner trade, the New York Rangers’ second-round pick (37) as part of the trade for the rights to Adam Fox, the Calgary Flames’ sixth-round pick (181) as part of the trade that sent out Eddie Lack and Ryan Murphy and the Hurricanes’ 2019 seventh-round pick, and the Boston Bruins’ seventh-round pick (216) from the Rangers in a trade for the Hurricanes’ seventh-round pick in 2018.
With their first selection, the Canes selected Ryan Suzuki from the Ontario Hockey League Barrie Colts, the same team where former Hurricane first-rounder Andrei Svechnikov played, 28th overall. Suzuki, who is projected as a potential top-six center and who many scouts had projected to be picked in the late teens to early 20s, was hailed for his playmaking ability.
Scouts were impressed by his skating ability, hockey IQ both with and away from the puck, and his vision to see and make passes and find lanes. However, scouts were also wary of his size and lack of physicality and intensity. Suzuki is 6 feet tall and only 172 pounds. Despite this, the NHL has seen smaller forwards dominate the game and find success, so this is hardly a worry in today’s league as long as his competitive level increases.
Suzuki, who was the first overall selection in the OHL Entry Draft by the Barrie Colts in 2017, still needs a few more years to truly develop his game. He finished this season in the OHL with 25 goals and 75 points in 65 games, which is a bit on the low end for a top-rated centerman, but Suzuki was carrying a gutted Barrie team which was tied for the third-worst record in the OHL last season.
Overall, Suzuki is a high-rated offensive talent that still needs a few years of development. He has the ability to potentially leapfrog in the pipeline, but fans will have to wait at least two to three years before we see Suzuki in a Hurricanes sweater.
Luckily, the Checkers and head coach Mike Vellucci are great assets to the NHL club who have already boosted the speed of development in most of Carolina’s prospects. The mantra of hard work instilled by head coach Rod Brind’Amour has also permeated west to Charlotte, so expect all future prospects to come up ready to play.
In the second round with the 36th pick, Carolina selected the second-highest-ranked goaltender and top-rated European goalie, Pyotr Kochetkov. The 6-foot-3 Russian netminder backstopped Team Russia to bronze in the World Junior Championships and looks to have a promising future.
The Hurricanes also selected Jamieson Rees with the 44th pick, a Canadian-born center touted for his high energy and pace of play. With room to improve offensively, the 18-year-old has a few more years left in the OHL before he makes the jump to the American or National Hockey League.
The Hurricanes had four selections in the third round of the draft after flipping two second-rounders. With the 73rd pick in the draft, Carolina took Finnish right winger Patrik Puistola.
Puistola was a true sleeper pick in this draft, as many had him going as high as the top-20 picks of the draft. Puistola is a highly skilled forward with elite puck-handling capabilities, touted for his creativity with the puck.
The Canes selected their first defenseman of the draft with the 83rd pick of the draft, potentially due to owner Tom Dundon’s outspoken comments about drafting defensemen high. Carolina selected Finnish blueliner Anttoni Honka, an offensive-minded playmaker and potential power play quarterback. Honka is regarded as a high-risk, high-reward player with extreme offensive potential, but many scouts worry about his defensive and physical game.
The Hurricanes selected two more defensemen after Honka: Americans Domenick Fensore with the 90th pick and Cade Webber with the 99th pick. Fensore is another offensive-minded defenseman with good puck moving capabilities and an elite skater, but he is undersized at only 5-foot-7. Webber, on the other hand, is a 6-foot-6, 200-pound defenseman at only 18 years old. Both are committed to play at Boston University as well.
In the fourth round, the Hurricanes selected another Finnish right-winger, Tuukka Tieksola, with the 121st pick. It was a good birthday present for the Finn, who turned 18 on June 22. He has a good amount of years of development to go, but he could be a really good offensive late pick in a few years, as he is a talented skater with good vision.
In the fifth round, the Canes selected Russian right-winger Kirill Slepets with the 152nd pick. Slepets had fallen in many people's draft rankings due to inconsistencies with his play, but he has potential upside and is a good risk in the fifth round with so many picks.
The Hurricanes picked twice in the sixth round. With the 181st pick, the Canes selected American right-winger Kevin Wall, and with the 183rd pick, they chose Canadian center Blake Murray. Wall is committed to Penn State and is regarded as being a potential true sniper. Murray is a large 6-foot-3 potential two-way center capable of scoring goals.
With its final pick in the draft, the Hurricanes selected Massimo Rizzo with the 216th pick in the seventh round. Rizzo is the former captain of the Penticton Vees and saw his draft stock fall due to missing a big chunk of time rehabbing an injury, and many consider him a dark horse candidate. Rizzo is also committed to the University of North Dakota.
Coming into the draft, many expected Carolina to flip some of their picks for immediate returns that could play next season, but the Canes stuck to their scouts and seem to have come out as one of the best teams from this year's draft.