Dom Lunardo | April 14th, 2020
When you look at the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team, one thing comes to mind: Togetherness. Over the last couple of seasons, the Hurricanes, perhaps better than any other franchise has established that its the Canes and then there are 30 other NHL franchises. Whether it’s the post-game “storm surges”, the intense roar of the red and white-covered crowd from PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, or their ability to play hard game after game, the Hurricanes, without question, have some special brewing.
With the NHL season on hiatus, the Hurricanes sit fourth place in the ever-competitive Metropolitan Division. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour, a former player himself who helped bring a cup to Carolina, has done a tremendous job behind the bench and deserves a whole lot of credit for the success of the Hurricanes. The last few seasons alone have seen a massive spike in quality blue-liners for the Canes with the likes of Dougie Hamilton, Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, and Trevor Van Riemsdyk. This defensive unit core was further strengthened by the trade deadline acquisitions of Brady Skjei and Sami Vatanen by Canes’ general manager, Don Waddell. It’s safe to say the Hurricanes have a lot of depth on their blue-line. The Hurricanes also have a pretty impressive group of prospects hoping to make the jump to the pros as early as next season. Let’s dive in and take a more comprehensive look at the next set of youngsters rising through the ranks for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Number 3: Ryan Suzuki, Center, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
Let’s get the ball rolling with centerman, Ryan Suzuki from the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Like his brother Nick, who currently plays for the Montreal Canadiens, Ryan is a quick, shifty, and talented player poised with a deep, deep toolbox. The Hurricanes drafted Suzuki in the first round, 28th overall during last summers NHL Entry Draft and have been thrilled with his development as a player thus far. At 18 years of age, Suzuki is already showing glimpses of a bonafide, NHL-caliber talent, who has thoroughly enjoyed his season in “The O”, split with both the Barrie Colts and Saginaw Spirit. Suzuki is strong on his edges, deceptive, and puts himself in good positions to score and make plays with a high level of effectiveness. The future is looking high for Ryan Suzuki, and what he brings to the Hurricanes organization.
Number 2: Alex Nedeljkovic, Goaltender, Carolina Hurricanes (NHL)/Charlotte Checkers (AHL)
Alex Nedeljkovic comes in as the second-ranked prospect “in the system” for the Carolina Hurricanes. At 24 years of age, Nedeljkovic has been gaining experience and further honing his skills with the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL). The Hurricanes value the development of Nedeljkovic and see him as the future starter between the pipes in Raleigh. Nedeljkovic has appeared in 4 games this season, as the Canes experienced injury after injury in goal. These injuries also brought about “The David Ayers Game” when Ayers, who was the Zamboni driver for the Toronto Marlies, was forced to suit up in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs after both Petr Mrazek and James Reimer were injured in the same game. In 29 games this season is Charlotte, Nedeljkovic, posted 1 2.49 goals-against-average (GAA) to go along with a .906 save percentage. Impressive numbers to say the least for the heir to the throne for the Canes. We’ll be seeing Alex Nedeljkovic, sooner rather than later as a full-time NHL goaltender.
Number 1: Jake Bean, Defenseman, Charlotte Checkers (AHL)
Oh no, not another defenseman! To quote former NHL executive, Brian Burke, “You can never have enough defenseman.” Duly noted if you’re GM Don Waddell. Jake Bean from Calgary, Alberta takes the prize as the Hurricanes top prospect by a landslide. If it weren’t for the plethora of high-quality defenseman already on the Hurricanes active roster than we would have seen Bean as a regular on the blue-line a long time ago. At 6’1, 185 pounds Bean is a poised, intelligent, and solid two-way defenseman who gets around the ice very well. Bean is strong on his feet and uses his stick to good effect in all three zones. The Hurricanes have loved his propensity for jumping into the play, and for making quick transitions from offense to defense. Bean as his work cut out for him to draw into the Canes’ lineup, but it’ll get to a point where his maturity and skill-level sets him apart from the rest of the pack in Carolina. Canes fans should be very excited about the thought of Jake Bean being added to an already deep and talented defense core out in Raleigh.
Honorable Mentions: F Eetu Luostarinen, F Luke Henman
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images