Carolina Hurricanes: 5 Players to Watch at Prospect Development Camp
Twenty-seven prospects will participate in this week's Carolina Hurricanes Prospect Development Camp, a brief oasis of hockey in the long, hot Raleigh summer.
Included in the bunch are nine players previously picked in the top four rounds of the last three NHL drafts, with 2014 seventh overall selection Haydn Fleury and top forward prospect Brock McGinn headlining the group.
The public will get its first glimpse of on-ice workouts on Wednesday evening, with sessions at PNC Arena continuing until Saturday's prospect game and accompanying fan festival.
Which players should attract the most attention this week? A breakdown of five prospects to watch closely falls on the coming slides.
G Daniel Altshuller
Drafted: 2012 No. 69 (3rd round)
2013-14 Team: Oshawa Generals (OHL)
2013-14 Stat Line: 31-13-3 record, .917 save percentage
The best prospect goaltender in Carolina's organization, Daniel Altshuller, will be a magnet for attention at camp, especially with fellow goalie Alex Nedeljkovic (2014 second-round pick) absent due to injury.
Altshuller is coming off a strong final season in the OHL, where he played behind a strong Oshawa squad but still ranked fifth in the league in save percentage. He boasts good size at 6'4" and improved his consistency in 2013-14.
He's poised to inherit the starting job for the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) this coming season, but the 'Canes coaching staff will get its first look at Altshuller during this week's action. When Cam Ward finally meets his end in Raleigh, it's Altshuller who is expected to take over his spot long-term alongside Anton Khudobin.
Note: Nedeljkovic's injury opens the door for undrafted free agent and Cary, North Carolina, native Logan Halladay to star in the net opposite Altshuller. Considering the 'Canes' lack of depth at goaltender, a strong performance could put Halladay firmly on the radar for a future contract.
D Trevor Carrick
Drafted: 2012 No. 115 (4th round)
2013-14 Teams: Mississauga Steelheads (OHL), Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
2013-14 Stat Line: 60 GP, 22 goals, 29 assists, 51 points
Trevor Carrick, once just a middle-of-the-road draft pick with a "project" label, exploded into the upper tier of Hurricanes prospects with his prolific 2013-14 campaign.
With 22 goals and 29 assists, Carrick led all OHL defensemen in goals and ranked eighth in points, falling just two points shy of 2014 first overall pick Aaron Ekblad and topping 2013 top-10 selection Darnell Nurse.
For comparison, Ryan Murphy—Carolina's top-ranked young defenseman—played 48 NHL games last season after recording 48 points in 54 games during the 2012-13 OHL season. Not only did Carrick roughly match that level of production in 2013-14, his height also exceeds Murphy by three inches.
Wrote OHL scout Brock Otten:
There's no question that Carrick had a great OHL season. His shot is a lethal weapon. It's hard. It's accurate. And he's great at jumping up in the rush to find shooting lanes. As a defensive player...his mobility has improved and he's become a tough player to beat one on one.
But Otten also notes turnovers as a major concern, and Carrick's ability to balance his obvious offensive prowess with his defensive responsibilities will be a storyline to watch closely against the tough competition in camp.
D Haydn Fleury
Drafted: 2014 No. 7 (1st round)
2013-14 Team: Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
2013-14 Stat Line: 70 GP, 8 goals, 38 assists, 46 points
The Hurricanes went the safe route with their top draft pick in June, choosing well-rounded Fleury as a low-risk investment in defense.
However, Fleury is, unlike most other top-10 picks, most likely a year or two away from the NHL. His time at this week's development camp may thus be the only look that the 'Canes staff will get of him until next summer, making his performance all the more important.
Head coach Bill Peters was clearly impressed at first glance, telling NHL.com reporter Michael Smith on Monday, "He’s smooth. Very poised, and good feet. I thought he looked real good."
Will the rest of the team's coaching and management staff feel the same way? Fleury has only a brief time to make a good impression.
LW Warren Foegele
Drafted: 2014 No. 67 (3rd round)
2013-14 Team: St. Andrews (high school)
2013-14 Stat Line: 52 GP, 58 goals, 49 assists, 107 points
I criticized the Warren Foegele selection at the time, noting the excessive risk involved with the use of a valuable third-round pick on a player with no experience beyond the high school level.
Now the time has come for Foegele to justify the team's draft reach.
Can he handle the sudden, meteoric rise in level of competition? Can his 6'1" but only 178-pound frame stand up in a more physical game? Can he demonstrate the same offensive skills that made his most recent season so outrageously productive?
Albeit not one of the best prospects at camp, Foegele could perhaps be the most intriguing—and have, most certainly, the most to prove.
LW Brock McGinn
Drafted: 2012 No. 47 (2nd round)
2013-14 Team: Guelph Storm (OHL)
2013-14 Stat Line: 58 GP, 43 goals, 42 assists, 85 points
Brock McGinn enters development camp on the brink of a three-month span that could launch him into the NHL.
The younger brother of two other NHL players, McGinn blossomed into a well-rounded checking forward with an unquenchable thirst for scoring in 2013-14. Already well-known for his fearless physicality, defensive responsibility and Chad LaRose-esque peskiness, a newfound scoring touch suddenly transformed McGinn into a legitimate top-tier NHL prospect.
A strong performance this week could lead to a leg up entering NHL training camp, where he'll compete strongly for a spot on the Hurricanes' third line come opening day.
For more on McGinn's potential and ability to help the 'Canes, read my column from last week.