NHL Draft 2013: Biggest Takeaways from Carolina Hurricanes' Draft

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NHL Draft 2013: Biggest Takeaways from Carolina Hurricanes' Draft
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Hurricanes made four draft picks and one noteworthy trade at Sunday's NHL draft, just like everyone expected they would.

But the trade certainly didn't involve the selection it was supposed to, and the team's top choice may not have involved the player it was supposed to, either.

The 'Canes took Swedish forward Elias Lindholm with the No. 5 overall pick in a surprising and refreshing moment of caution. Lindholm wasn't the headline-grabbing selection that Valeri Nichushkin or Darnell Nurse would've been, but he's a solid, well-rounded player with one of the lowest risk factors in the first round.

GM Jim Rutherford then traded the team's No. 35 overall pick (in the second round) and maligned defenseman Jamie McBain to the Buffalo Sabres for unheralded blueliner Andrej Sekera. Again, Sekera wasn't the high-profile defensive acquisition that Braydon Coburn or Kris Letang would've been, but he's a very reliable addition to the second pairing.

Later, the franchise used the No. 66 selection on defenseman Brett Pesce, the No. 126 selection on winger Brent Pedersen and the No. 156 selection on defenseman Tyler Ganly.

What are the key takeaways from the Hurricanes' draft-day decisions moving forward? We analyze four crucial themes below.

 

Hurricanes Add Grit, Consistency

Lindholm with the Swedish national junior team. (Photo Courtesy of Sportsnet.ca)

From Lindholm down through Pesce, Pedersen and Ganly in the later rounds, the 'Canes clearly heeded Kirk Muller's advice and sought accountability in their newest prospects.

Lindholm plays an excellent two-way game and could possibly be regarded as the hardest-working player from the entire 2013 draft. He commits to both the rush and the backcheck, he makes excellent offensive and defensive reads and follows through with them without fail.

If Lindholm does make the 'Canes roster in the fall, he'll likely be penciled into the third-line center role—right where 2007's 11th choice Brandon Sutter used to be.

The trio of lesser-profile picks all fit the gritty, defense-first identities sought for Carolina's next generation of cornerstones, as well. All three stand at 6'1" or taller at merely age 18 and were touted largely for their conservative playing styles and prowess in their own zone.

 

Defense Improved—But Improved Enough?

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Sekera is a better player than McBain, and there's little question in that. He's not haunted by the confidence issues and bonehead-play tendencies that No. 4 was; he's experienced in a top-four role and fairly well-regarded for both his defensive and blue line reliability.

But is Sekera's presence going to be enough to singlehandedly turn around a porous Carolina defense that allowed more shots against last season than any other team in the NHL? 

Probably not.

After the draft, Rutherford talked to News & Observer reporter Luke DeCock: "The urgency is not there as much because we got Sekera," he told him. "We'll continue to look around."

We have one response—he better. Rob Scuderi, Andrew Ference, Ron Hainsey and Toni Lydman are all set to become unrestricted free agents come Friday. Keith Yandle, Ladislav Smid, Alex Edler and Coburn are all speculated to be available on the trade market.

One of them needs to be part of the Hurricanes organization by autumn.

 

Front Office Learned from 2012 Chaos

Dave Sandford/Getty Images

As the trade rumors swirled around the Hurricanes in the days and weeks leading up to the draft, it seemed like Sunday could be another wild night of blockbuster deals and conflicting opinions.

Rutherford & Co. had their fun last year, when they traded the No. 8 pick and promising youngsters Sutter and Brian Domoulin to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Jordan Staal. That trade sent a message to both the rest of the NHL as well as thousands in the ticket-holder base; it was the shock of excitement that Carolina certainly needed at the time.

This weekend, however, it wasn't needed—and the front office realized that.

The sensibility to weigh offers for the fifth slot but, when nothing sounded tantalizing at first glance, move along and make the pick was fantastic to see. The Hurricanes' management kept last June's bedlam in mind and implemented a calming dose of rationality this time around.

 

Pedersen, the Steal of the Late Rounds

Pedersen with the Kitchener Rangers last season. (Photo Courtesy of waterloosportsxpress.ca.)

Eyes have been on Brent Pedersen as one of the more intriguing potential picks of the draft's latter half for a while. In fact, we actually projected him as the Hurricanes' fifth-round choice in our mock draft.

Now that he's officially put on a red-and-white uniform, Pedersen's impressive work ethic and rapidly increasing upside have a platform on which to be flaunted.

The Kitchener winger's offensive production improved dramatically over the course of the season—he finished with 14 goals and 30 points in 67 appearances. The majority of Pedersen's NHL interest, however, stems from the 6'2", 205-pound forward's check and fight willingness.

As he takes on a more prominent position on his OHL squad next season, his skills and statistics should be pushed to an even higher level.

Make no mistake about it—Pedersen could be one of the best steals of all the late rounds and should be a fantastic checking forward for the 'Canes in the future.

 

Mark Jones has been a Carolina Hurricanes featured columnist for Bleacher Report since 2009. Visit his profile to read more, or follow him on Twitter.

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