Photo: Forward Victor Rask split the 2012-13 season between the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL and the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL. Rask projects to be a second-line forward for the Hurricanes, possibly as soon as next year. (courtesy of Br...
Photo: Forward Victor Rask split the 2012-13 season between the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL and the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL. Rask projects to be a second-line forward for the Hurricanes, possibly as soon as next year. (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Despite lacking a lot of depth and talent, the Carolina Hurricanes organization has top-end prospects in the pipeline, including the offensively talented defenseman Ryan Murphy, and a potential rising offensive star in Victor Rask. There are also several good depth defensemen who, in the near future, could solidify the Carolina blue line.
1. (1) Ryan Murphy, D, 8.0C
Drafted 1st round, 12th overall, 2011
Over the last eight months, Ryan Murphy played hockey for four different teams in two hemispheres at four levels of competition. Murphy captained the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL, and collected 49 points through 54 regular season games. He helped lead the Rangers to the Western Conference Semi-Finals, where they fell in five games to the eventual Western Conference champion London Knights. Murphy also played for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia, but his trip there also ended in disappointment after Canada lost to the US in the semi-finals and failed to win a medal. In late February, Murphy got his first chance to play in the NHL, and saw four games of scoreless action before his emergency call up ended. After his OHL season, he joined the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL where he scored four points in eight games.
Murphy is a gifted offensive defenseman, with great vision and the passing ability to get the puck to open players. The former first-round pick lacks size and still needs extensive development of his defensive skills, but when the puck is on his stick, he makes things happen. Although he seems destined to be a powerplay specialist at the NHL level, if he can acquire the patience and determination to play a solid game in his own end, he could become a valuable top-four defenseman.
2. (2) Victor Rask, C, 7.5C
Drafted 2nd round, 42nd overall, 2011
Rask missed significant time from the Hitmen roster this year, not due to injury (a knee injury caused him to miss several games at the end of the 2011-12 season), but because he was getting an extended look with the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL, and then playing for Sweden in the World Junior Championships. Yet, having played in just 37 regular season games in the WHL, Rask scored 14 goals and 27 assists, good enough for a seventh-overall spot on the team's scoring list. However, Rask shone during Calgary's playoff run. He was the team's leading scoring through seventeen games, and helped carry the Hitmen to the Eastern Conference Finals before they lost in seven games to the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Rask has speed and good size, and he uses both to protect the puck and buy time for his linemates to find space. He has the ability to battle in the corners and maintain puck possession, even when harried by several opponents. Rask is not an elite-level scorer, but with his hockey sense and physical play, he should develop into a valuable contributor on the Hurricanes second line.
3. (4) Zac Dalpe, C/W, 7.0C
Drafted 2nd round, 45th overall, 2008
Dalpe rebounded from a frustrating 2011-12 season and put in a performance that has him back on track for a possible NHL role in the near future. He used his well-rounded game to score 21 goals and 21 assists in 54 AHL games (among the top four in Checkers scoring). He also had the chance to play in 10 NHL games during the season, where he mostly held his own and tallied a goal and two assists while playing primarily third-line minutes. Dalpe will need to continue the hard work and gritty style of play if he is to secure a full-time NHL spot next season.
4. (8) Riley Nash, C, 6.5B
Trade with Edmonton Oilers, June 26th, 2010
The proximity of the Hurricanes AHL affiliate played an important role for Nash this season as he made several trips back