Welcome to Last Word’s Draft Boom and Bust series. As the 2020 NHL Entry Draft approaches, we decided to examine each team’s best and worst pick since the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. The biggest boom is a player that had the best value relative to where they were selected. Meaning, no one in the first round will be considered a team’s best value pick. However, the biggest bust picks will almost always be in the first round. We will examine each player, why they were picked where they were, and what their NHL career was like. Today, we look at the Carolina Hurricanes draft, and their biggest boom and bust.
Carolina Hurricanes Draft Boom and Bust
Going into his draft year in 2012, little was known about Jaccob Slavin. He had just been picked up by the Chicago Steel in the USHL after going undrafted, and he had posted just one goal and didn’t register a single assist in his first 17 games. His second year in the USHL (and his draft year), Slavin began to produce. He potted three goals and 27 assists through 60 games in Chicago. After his addition to the team, the Steel turned from the worst in the USHL to a playoff squad. This upswing in his offensive production, combined with his solid defensive play, was enough to make it onto the Carolina Hurricanes draft list to be selected. Come the second-last pick of the fourth-round, the Hurricanes took him 120th overall.
In some evaluations, he was stated to be “a smooth skater with obvious offensive potential, Slavin’s more likely to stay back and play defense”. This evaluation is very fitting, as it foreshadows what is to come with Slavin.
Slavin did not join the Hurricanes right away, nor would any fourth-round pick be expected to. He took a few years to reach the NHL, staying in the USHL for another year before heading to the Colorado College for two seasons in the NCAA. In that time, Slavin also played in the 2014 World Juniors, along with a number of other future NHLers.
Slavin finally broke into the NHL in the 2015-16 season. He played a little bit of time in the AHL that season but stuck it in the NHL for 63 games. Since then, Salvin has become a key piece of the Hurricanes defence for years. A fantastic combination of reliable defensive play and ability to weigh in with offence, Slavin has become one of the premier two-way defencemen in the league.
Other Notable Booms
Brett Pesce was taken in the third round, 66th overall by the Hurricanes in 2013. Pesce is also an incredible steal at this placement. He offers a lot of similar strengths as Slavin does, but with lower offensive output and a higher selection spot, Pesce winds up as an honourable mention.
By the criteria provided, Sebastian Aho was eligible to be on the “Boom” list due to his selection outside of the first round. Aho was taken 35th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry draft, qualifying him for the list. Aho very well could’ve topped this list for the Hurricanes due to his high offensive production and ability to generate high-quality chances, however, it felt wrong putting him at the top due to his still high draft pick selection.
Knyazev is not a name that many people would recognize. Knyazev was drafted in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the Hurricanes at 15th overall. He was drafted out of the Russian second league as a left-handed defenceman. Knazev was able to play in the U17 and U18 World Championships for team Russia leading up to his draft in the 2000-01 season. It was even an upset to some that Knyzev wasn’t invited to the World Junior camp that year as well, despite his young age. He was deemed to be “one of the best all-around defensemen in the upcoming 2001 NHL Entry Draft.” Knyazev was talked heavily about his strong defensive play, size and physical style. He was projected to go somewhere in the middle of the first round, which is exactly where he ended up.
After he was drafted by the Hurricanes at 15th overall, Knyazev finally made the World Juniors that had eluded him in years past. He had also moved to the Super League along with his team after their performance the year prior. He stayed in Russia for that year before making the move over to North America. Knyzev ended up playing two seasons in the AHL without making it to the NHL before moving back overseas.
Knyazev ended up playing a grand total of zero games in the NHL, and 140 in the AHL. He posted seven points in each of his two seasons in the AHL. While there wasn’t a lot of talent that followed Knyazev in the first round of the 2001 draft, there were certainly other players who went on to make some sort of impact in the NHL. One such example would be R.J. Umberger, who was taken directly after at 16th overall. This is why Igor Knyzev is the biggest Carolina Hurricanes draft bust.
Other Notable Busts
Similar to Knyazev, Paradis was taken in the first round and didn’t play a single game in the NHL. Paradis was taken 27th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, and is still currently active in the LNAH in Quebec. The reason he falls behind Knyazev is for the fact he never played in the World Juniors, was taken lower, and had much less hype coming into the draft.
Zach Boychuk is a player that differs in that actually did play NHL games. He still has a solid, active career outside of the NHL, representing Canada at the Spengler Cup. Boychuk played 127 NHL games and constantly bounced around the NHL and AHL. He was taken 14th overall in 2008. This is not typically the type of career an NHL team imagines when selecting in a lottery spot.
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