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August 6, 2012
Top 10 Prospects
Carolina Hurricanes

by Corey Pronman

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Full list of NHL Organizational Rankings

Carolina Hurricanes Top 10 Prospects

1. Ryan Murphy, Defense
2. Victor Rask, Center
3. Jeremy Welsh, Left Wing
4. Zac Dalpe, Center
5. Danny Biega, Defense
6. Chris Terry, Left Wing
7. Phil Di Giuseppe, Left Wing
8. Erik Karlsson, Left Wing
9. Riley Nash, Center
10.Mark Alt, Defense

Organizational Ranking: 25th

System Overview: The Hurricanes' system took a big blow from this time last season due to the graduations of Justin Faulk, Drayson Bowman, and Zach Boychuk. They also traded top defense prospect Brian Dumoulin to Pittsburgh. Zac Dalpe had a little bit of an underwhelming season that was somewhat due to injuries while Ryan Murphy suffered from a concussion and had trouble getting back to his usual form. I really like Murphy still, but after him it falls off not completely talentwise, but if there is talent, the player usually has either above average uncertainty or the player is quite a few years away.

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1. Ryan Murphy, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: 1st
Date of birth: 03/31/1993
Age: 19
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 166
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 49 GP, 11 G, 54 P (Kitchener-OHL)
Acquired: First round, 12th overall in 2011 by Carolina

The Good: Murphy is a simply fantastic talent who bleeds high-end offensive tools. He projects as one of the better skaters in the NHL with an elite combination of speed, acceleration, agility, and edge-work. He's a plus puck-handler who can really dangle in tight spaces or while barreling down at full speed. Murphy is a very creative player who has a high level of offensive sense. He can make very impressive plays consistently as a rusher, passer, or dangler.

The Bad: The only hole in Murphy's offensive skill set is his decision-making. He tends to be too much of a gambler and he needs to learn to pick his spots better and to not try and do too much. His size hampers him in the defensive zone where he's gotten better but still is below average. He has to bulk up a lot, but even when he does, it's hard to see him being better than replacement level physically. He suffered a concussion this year, too.

Projection: He has the ability to be one of the league's best offensive defensemen.

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2. Victor Rask, Center
2010-11 Ranking: 8th
Date of birth: 03/01/1993
Age: 19
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 194
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 64 GP, 33 G, 63 P (Calgary-WHL)
Acquired: Second round, 42nd overall in 2011 by Carolina

The Good: Rask is an above average and arguably high-end puck-handler who can really create offense with his individual moves. His playmaking skills are along the same lines and when he gets a little open space along the sideboards, there aren't many players better at creating chances. At one time thought of as a potential top-10 pick in the 2011 draft, Rask certainly has moments of true flash to his game and has a load of offensive potential. He's smart and effective in his own end, too.

The Bad: His skating is quite poor, bordering between below average and replacement level. Rask really lags on his first few steps, and while his top speed is better, it is only okay. I've heard concerns about his physical play/being a perimeter player although I consider his physical game to be decent.

Projection: He could be an average second line center, maybe even an above average one.

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3. Jeremy Welsh, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 05/30/1989
Age: 24
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 210
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 40 GP, 27 G, 44 P (Union College-ACHA)
Acquired: College free agent

The Good: Welsh has good puck skills and is pretty coordinated for a big man. He's an average skater, but again considering his frame, he moves at a solid level. He's a big, strong, physically developed forward who plays a power forward game. Welsh does well in the cycle game and board battles. He also goes to the net with authority.

The Bad: Welsh isn't an overly creative player and is not much of a playmaker. He has some offensive tools, but won't be a focal point for an attack.

Projection: He could be a league average forward.

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4. Zac Dalpe, Center
2010-11 Ranking: 2nd
Date of birth: 11/01/1989
Age: 22
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 195
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 56 GP, 18 G, 32 P (Charlotte-AHL)
Acquired: Second round, 45th overall in 2008 by Carolina

The Good: Dalpe is an above average skater who moves around very well due to his stride and energy level. He's a very hard working player on and off the ice who gets praise for his character. Scouts say he plays a prototypical "power forward" game with his physical style in terms of how he attacks defensemen and his effectiveness in the cycle. He has solid hands, maybe even at times flashing above average. Dalpe has a pretty impressive shot as well.

The Bad: Dalpe doesn't project as a great puck possessor, and while he can make plays, the offense won't flow through him, especially in terms of being a puck distributor.

Projection: His ceiling borders between a below average second- and an above average third line center.

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5. Danny Biega, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: 10th
Date of birth: 09/29/1991
Age: 20
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 205
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 34 GP, 10 G, 35 P (Harvard University-ECAC)
Acquired: Third round, 67th overall in 2010 by Carolina

The Good: Biega was a first team All-American for the NCAA East, led all ECAC defensemen in scoring, was fourth in defensemen scoring nationally, he was second in voting for the conference's player of the year while also getting the conference's award for best defensive defenseman. It was a good year for him, let's put it that way. Biega is a solid to above average skater who's mobile in every direction. NHL sources call him "an offensive-minded defenseman" who is pretty effective on the power play. He shows pretty good work ethic/intangibles, too.

The Bad: Biega is slightly undersized although he is notably strong, so in the end, I'd say his physical game projects as just a tick below average. At times, he will have gaffes with his own end reads.

Projection: He could be a #4 defenseman.

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6. Chris Terry, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: 7th
Date of birth: 04/07/1989
Age: 23
Height: 5'10''
Weight: 197
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 74 GP, 16 G, 59 P (Charlotte-AHL)
Acquired: Fifth round, 132nd overall in 2007 by Carolina

The Good: Terry is a dangerous offensive player who led his AHL team in scoring. He has high-end puck skills, good vision, and scouts consider him a "power play weapon." I've seen him be utilized on the point on the PP due to his offensive brain, on top of having a tremendous shot. Terry has fine defensive awareness and can be moderately effective on the PK.

The Bad: Terry's skating is an issue, and while I've seen him flash average, he's certainly a below average skater, and I've heard NHL sources say even worse than that. His physical game isn't anything noteworthy, and without a better skating element, a player of his size will be hard pressed to score at the top level.

Projection: He has a chance to be a below average second line forward.

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7. Phil Di Giuseppe, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 10/09/1993
Age: 18
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 176
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 40 GP, 11 G, 26 P (Univ. of Michigan-CCHA)
Acquired: Second round, 38th overall in 2012 by Carolina

The Good: Di Giuseppe is a skilled forward who has above average hands and will at times show a notch above that. He's a solid skater with a nice top gear and he's pretty agile. He shows good effort in the physical game and he will flash nice vision as well.

The Bad: He has a pretty skinny frame and needs to put on a fair amount on bulk. Di Giuseppe can also be victim of bad decisions and he will rush plays.

Projection: He could be a below average second line winger.

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8. Erik Karlsson, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 07/28/1994
Age: 18
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 162
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 47 GP, 14 G, 33 P (Frolunda J20- J20 SuperElit)
Acquired: Fourth round, 99th overall in 2012 by Carolina

The Good: While he's not a Norris trophy winner, this Karlsson is a very skilled puck-handler who has some flash to his game in terms of his possession skills. He's an above average skater as well with nice edge control and he accelerates pretty easily as well. Karlsson shows solid hockey sense in terms of his vision both with the puck and his off the puck reads.

The Bad: If his 162-pound listing didn't give it away, Karlsson needs to put on a boatload of muscle as he can easily be knocked off the puck. His production this year was also slightly underwhelming for a skilled forward although he was fourth in his team's scoring.

Projection: He could be a below average second line forward.

9. Riley Nash, Center
2010-11 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 05/09/1989
Age: 23
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 189
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 58 GP, 8 G, 20 P (Charlotte-AHL)
Acquired: College free agent

The Good: The former first round pick by Edmonton has developed into a pretty effective shutdown center in the AHL and projects to the NHL because of his defensive value in terms of playing tough minutes and being good at faceoffs. Nash is a pretty aware player who gets regular praise from scouts for his hockey sense. He has decent vision as well.

The Bad: Nash has not shown to really be an offensive player in the pro game and that aspect of his game seems limited at the top level. He still needs to get a fair bit stronger. At times, Nash can be somewhat inconsistent, too.

Projection: He could be a bottom-six center.

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10. Mark Alt, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 10/18/1991
Age: 20
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 202
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 43 GP, 5 G, 22 P (Univ. of Minnesota-WCHA)
Acquired: Second round, 53rd overall in 2010 by Carolina

The Good: Alt is a very physically developed player, who is strong and shows pretty good athletic tools between his conditioning, mobility, and physical game, the latter of which is high end. He shows decent puck-moving skills for a big guy. He has a good on-ice work ethic.

The Bad: Alt can be prone to bad games and his hockey sense isn't all that desirable. His puck-handling can be rigid as well and it's questionable how much offensive potential he has.

Projection: He could be a third pairing defender.

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The Next Five

11. Michal Jordan, Defense: He won't impress you with his skating or puck skills and he's not exactly big, but he's a smart player who checked team's top lines in the AHL this season.

12. Justin Shugg, Left Wing: Shugg spend times in the ECHL this season, but in the second half in the AHL he looked pretty effective. He has a nice skill level, and he's tough and effective physically despite his size.

13. Rasmus Rissanen, Defense: He's a big man who plays the body, skates well, and can be solid in his own end but he brings no offense to the table.

14. Keegan Lowe, Defense: He won't wow you with natural skills but he plays hard and defends at a decent level.

15. Trevor Carrick, Defense: Carrick skates well, has decent size, and can be fine in his own end while moving the puck at an okay level.

The Sleeper: Brendan Collier, Left Wing

He's a little guy with elite work ethic, a good talent level, and he has the ingredients to potentially have a big freshman season at Boston University.

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Carolina Hurricanes Organizational Top 10

Players 22 or under as of 09/15/2012 or still considered a prospect as defined here.

1. Justin Faulk, Defense
2. Jeff Skinner, Right Wing
3. Ryan Murphy, Defense
4. Victor Rask, Center
5. Jeremy Welsh, Left Wing
6. Zac Dalpe, Center
7. Zach Boychuk, Left Wing
8. Danny Biega, Defense
9. Chris Terry, Left Wing
10. Phil Di Giuseppe, Left Wing

Seeing what Justin Faulk did this season when he turned 20 in March is very rare and extremely impressive. 19-year-old defensemen don't generally log tough NHL minutes, have the second-highest ES time on ice/60 on their team, and stay above water, but he did just that. When he was drafted, Faulk was touted for his great offensive skill and his tremendous shot, but could he defend? He's shown he can, and despite being slightly undersized, he has a physical element to his game. The sky is the limit for Faulk. Skinner's points-per-game rate dropped slightly, but that's to be expected after shooting 14.4% the previous season. He's a unique skater with skill, great hockey sense, and finishing ability who will be a top line forward for Carolina for a while. Boychuk's future seems uncertain to me. He skates well and has skill, but his consistency hasn't always been there and he doesn't project as someone with notable NHL defensive value. With Jordan Staal and Alex Semin joining the team, while Drayson Bowman, Zac Dalpe, and Jeremy Welsh will battle for ice time as well, it's hard to see where Boychuk fits in.

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

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