Saturday, July 21, 2018

31 Teams in 31 Days - Carolina Hurricanes

Without question, Carolina has the top prospect playing in the OHL.

1. Andrei Svechnikov - Barrie Colts
The 2nd overall pick in 2018, Svechnikov came exactly as advertised this year in the OHL. His 40 goals in 44 games, including 31 at even strength, put him in some elite company (like Connor McDavid) in terms of draft eligible production at the CHL level. I've seen a lot of OHL hockey over the years, but I don't think I've seen a player able to put defenders on his back off the rush like Svechnikov can. With his size, skating ability, and skill level, he is able to gain inside position on defenders with ease and is just so hard to stop because of it. Svechnikov also has a terrific shot release, so defenders have to try to take that away from him too, so giving him a large gap isn't ideal either. Unfortunately (or fortunately for Canes' fans), this is the last we've seen of Andrei in the OHL. He is extremely pro ready. He's such a complete player and should transition effortlessly to the NHL level next year. Gabe Landeskog had 52 points in his rookie year, and I think Svechnikov is ahead of where he was as an offensive player coming out of junior. I can see Svechnikov being a 30 goal scorer as early as next season.

2. Jeremy Helvig - Kingston Frontenacs
Really smart decision for the Hurricanes to send Helvig back to the OHL for his overage season. Was only his second season as Kingston's starter and he had a terrific year, leading the Frontenacs to the Eastern Conference finals and finishing near the top in every goaltending category. He was a consistently steady presence who could be relied upon to make the big saves when needed. Thought his agility looked better this year, allowing him to challenge shooters more aggressively. This really helped him to fight through traffic to make saves. His rebound control continues to improve too, as previously he had some difficulty preventing shots from being kicked back out into the slot. Sometimes it can be tough to be in full control when you're 6'4, 210lbs like Helvig is. Moving forward to the pro level next year, continuing to improve his lateral quickness will be key to his development into an NHL netminder. Former OHL star Alex Nedeljkovic will be the starter in Charlotte, so Helvig will battle Callum Booth for the back-up job, with the loser ending up in the ECHL (where Booth spent most of last year). 

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