With former Whalers' head Mike Vellucci in the front office fold, the Hurricanes are the next stop on 30 Teams in 30 Days.
Brock McGinn - Guelph Storm
Absolutely fantastic season for McGinn. If he wasn't one already, he emerged as a legitimate NHL prospect this year. He literally improved in all facets of his play. He continued to play a staunch physical game but cut down on his cheap/silly penalties. He spent more time trying to create offensive scoring chances this year, rather than trying to piss off the opposition. He's still a tough player to play against, but he's a smarter one now. His goal scoring ability really took a step forward too, as he gained more confidence in his shot and became more than just a 'banging home rebounds' kind of guy. McGinn is ready for the pro game. In all honesty, depending on how builds up strength in the offseason, he might be ready to contribute on a checking line as early as this year.
Daniel Altshuller - Oshawa Generals
Altshuller definitely had his best year in the OHL, finally putting together a consistent year from start to finish. The Generals were among the cream of the crop in the East and his steady presence in the crease was a big reason for that. He shored up his positioning and his rebound control and gave up way less "soft" goals. The Canes haven't had the best luck developing goalies in recent years. Looks like he'll split time with veteran Drew MacIntyre at the AHL level next year and we'll see how he does. I'd expect him to be good, but not great.
Trevor Carrick - Sudbury Wolves
There's no question that Carrick had a great OHL season. Hard to argue against the offensive contribution with 22 goals. 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, he continued to evolve. He's physical when he needs to be and chases the play less in the defensive zone. His mobility has improved and he's become a tough player to beat one on one. He's worked very hard over his OHL career to cut down on his turnovers with the puck, especially in the defensive end. It's tolerable at the OHL level, but once the game picks up speed again, how long will the adjustment period be for him again? I think that's the biggest question moving forward as he turns pro this year.
Tyler Ganly - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Ganly is more valuable as an OHL player than his stat line would indicate. He plays lots for the Hounds and in critical defensive situations. His offensive game hasn't yet flourished (I'm not sure it will at this point), but he's a very solid defensive player who can win battles in the corners, clear the front of the net and get his stick in passing lanes. His skating improved and he's able to make quicker decisions to evade the forecheck, but it will need to continue to improve this coming year in order to earn a contract from Carolina. His role next year will likely remain unchanged.
Brent Pedersen - Kitchener Rangers
It wasn't really a good year for anyone on Kitchener, to be honest. They had a tough go of it. Pedersen's development was pretty stagnant. He remains a bit of an enigma, sometimes flashing a skilled game. Sometimes a physical, forechecking game. He's the type of guy who needs to develop an identity as a player in order to grow as a prospect. Next year Kitchener will be a year older and hopefully better. The Rangers will need Pedersen to really step up and provide offense. He's capable of a 30 goal season and I think he'll need that to earn a contract.
Sergey Tolchinsky - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Tolchinsky had a very good year. In his draft year, when the Canes signed him (after going undrafted), there were a lot of times that he left a bland taste in my mouth. Tons of skill, but not much came of it that year. This past year he was much more aggressive, taking the bull by the horns, sort of speak. He was the offensive leader for the Soo and was incredibly consistent. He's still not very big, but he looked stronger on the puck, getting outmuscled less, especially when trying to cut into the slot for a shot or a drive to the net. His puck skill remains tremendous and he bides time for his linemates to find open lanes. I think it remains to be seen how his skill set will translate to the NHL level, but he'll return to the OHL next year and be a candidate to lead the league in scoring.
Carter Sandlak - Plymouth Whalers
Sandlak was signed as a free agent after a solid overage season with Plymouth. You know what you're getting with him. He knows his role is to play physical, win battles in the corners, and drive the net. He's not going to win any scoring titles and I don't think his NHL potential tops out any higher than a 4th line checker, but he could be a valuable role player. Hopefully he can crack the AHL next year, where he'll probably put up pretty low scoring numbers as he gets used to the speed of the pro game.
Alex Nedeljkovic - Plymouth Whalers
I was very happy to see Nedeljkovic go high in the NHL draft. I was worried that because he doesn't possess elite size, that he'd fall a bit. But he's as good of a goaltender as there is in the OHL and that's why he was the OHL goaltender of the year this year. His mental make up is tremendous. He shows up for big games and he makes the big saves when they're needed. Since he came into the OHL, he's done nothing but perform at a exemplary level and I'd expect nothing less next year. The real interesting prospect for me, actually has nothing to do with the OHL. I'm curious to see whether Nedeljkovic or Thatcher Demko ends up as the starter on the U.S. WJC team. One's got an U-18 gold medal and one doesn't. Just saying!
Josh Wesley - Plymouth Whalers
A little higher than I would have taken him, but it's not surprising to see the Hurricanes take a shot on a Plymouth player. For me, I think I'm confused as to the type of player Wesley is going to become at the next level. He's solid in a lot of aspects; had good size, mobility, smarts, but doesn't seem to have the personality or high skill level with the puck to be an offensive defender like his father was. And there were times this year that he stood out in a negative way for me defensively (especially in the first round loss to Guelph). Next year will be a big one in his development as he start to see what type of player he ends up becoming.
Kyle Jenkins - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Jenkins is a coy pick up in the 7th by the Canes. I like it as a roll of the dice pick up. He only played in his first OHL season this year and flashed a lot of good things. He started the year very well, but I found that he tired as the year went on and saw his role reduced. I like how he runs the powerplay and I think he's got a lot of offensive potential from the back end. This offseason, he's hopefully worked hard to get stronger to make him a more effective puck rusher, and a more sturdy defensive presence. He could have a breakout year next year as he gains more powerplay time, especially if Darnell Nurse makes the Oilers.