NHL-ready talent a must for Canes in draft
Posted June 29, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes have to come out of the first round of this year’s draft with an NHL player – not just a roster spot, but a player that can make in immediate impact. Whomever the team lands Sunday has to play in a Canes uniform at PNC Arena (dates are still being worked out with NC State) this season.
Since moving to Carolina, the team has had a checkered first round draft history. The team has scored selections with Eric Staal (2003), Cam Ward (2002) and Jeff Skinner (2010). The team missed with Nikos Tselios (1997), Jeff Heerema (1998), Igor Knyazev (2001), Jack Johnson (2005), Zach Boychuck (2008) and Phillipe Paradis (2009). To be fair, Paradis was traded for Jiri Tlusty, and while the team failed to sign Jack Johnson, Jim Rutherford was able to turn him into an NHL player in Tim Gleason.
That is the back story. The current truth, however, is that this team has not made the playoffs in five years and the fans need to see the Hurricanes adding talent that can play now, be it a forward or defenseman. According to many draft experts, this draft is the most talented in a decade. A team holding a top-10 pick should be landing an NHL-caliber player that can play this year. This team can’t count on should-be’s, this team needs a player to count on.
This isn’t a breakdown of who the Hurricanes should take with the pick or what Central Scouting thinks of these players and the best selection for the organization. It is what this pick has to be for the organization. It is easier to herd cats than to know what kind of player an NHL draft pick becomes.
The most immediate need is on defense, and that doesn’t mean that the front office sits with its fingers crossed hoping that the No. 1 prospect, Seth Jones, falls to them. The team has to be aggressive and trading the pick for blue line help has to be a consideration. There is no elite defenseman in free agency this year, and the team can’t wait for a next year’s bumper crop of UFA’s so Carolina can’t just open the checkbook for an upgrade. Improving the blue line is going to have a big price tag, exchanging a draft pick that is a ‘could be’ for a known commodity that the team could try to sign long term to improve the defense might be the best option this year.
Moving up is the next best option if Jones is going to slip like many are predicting. When scouts say Jones is comparable to what Chris Pronger was, the Hurricanes have to be in on acquiring that specific kind of player. Rutherford can’t sit back and let him put on another sweater. Moving up to get him means paying a price of the fifth and a player or the fifth and more picks. The organization did it for Pronger once before and if Jones can be had, it needs to do it again.
If the Hurricanes stand pat and take a forward with the fifth overall selection, it doesn’t matter the players name, that player has to be a top-six forward. There is no time to wait for a player to develop, give him time in the minors or even start off on the third line. [Insert player name here] has to be able to step in and play alongside Eric Staal or Jordan Staal and contribute on the stat sheet from day one.
With the new realignment taking place, moving the Hurricanes into a neighborhood that will feature the Penguins, Rangers, Flyers, Devils and Capitals, the team can’t wait for a player to develop. And the fans can’t wait another season hoping that the off-season will bring in the next player that puts the team back in the playoffs.
The draft begins at 3 p.m. Sunday.