The Prospects Showcase has come and gone, so now it’s time to talk about which players established themselves as the next Gretzky, Lidstrom or Hasek. In all seriousness, these tournaments are pretty meaningless and all for players to get some extra time working with NHL coaches and staff. Still, it’s a good time for fans and teams to get an idea of where their prospects are at in their development, who improved over the past season and more. Nobody is going to make the team due to a strong performance in rookie camp, but getting extra development time is important for a lot of prospects.
The showcase is a benchmark for prospect development, meaning that you see where they’re at in their development before getting to see them later on at the World Juniors or the following summer’s rookie camp. In addition to watching the first two games online, I was able to attend Tuesday’s game against Nashville, a 3-2 overtime loss. Here’s a recap of each prospect that played at the tournament as well as some notes on the players I saw.
Jarvis was far and away the best player for the Hurricanes in this tournament. His speed was elite, he was making plays, scoring goals and being an overall threat in all three zones. The 13th overall pick in 2020 was as good as advertised and is very clearly a top prospect in the Hurricanes’ system. Jarvis’ all around game is elite and although he may not make the NHL roster this season, it’s clear that he’ll be an NHL player in the near future. Jarvis was the best player on the ice at any given moment, using his speed to create offense and draw penalties. Jarvis was utilized in almost every situation, giving the Hurricanes multiple reasons to give him a shot in camp. Even though their roster is close to being set, it wouldn’t surprise me if Jarvis sticks around in camp for a good while.
Aside from Bokk’s goal against Nashville, I thought that he was largely unnoticeable throughout Carolina’s three games. There were periods of time where I thought that he looked confident with the puck and dynamic, but then he’d hold onto the puck for too long and turn it over. Bokk is still what I’d call a “selfish” player, holding onto the puck instead of passing it and then skating himself into a corner. It’s tough to generate offense when Bokk can kill the momentum, but that’s something that can be worked on over time with Bokk. Still, his shot is elite and that alone makes him a threat in the offensive zone.
Keane looked like the most polished Hurricanes defenseman, making plays from the point and shutting down offense for the most part. No player is going to be perfect, and Keane certainly made his mistakes, but Keane was solid for the majority of his ice time at the tournament. His speed and strength stood out, as did his ability to man the point on the power play and at even strength. Keane looked less like an offensive defenseman and more like a two-way threat, which is a good thing for the Hurricanes. Keane’s defensive play was polished and I thought his pairing with Ronan Seeley was the Hurricanes’ best throughout the tournament.
I wish that I could have seen Orr play a little more at the tournament. Orr looked like a prospect that needed more development time, which isn’t a bad thing at all. He’s a young player that was playing against much older competition and held his own for the most part. Orr made a few nice plays to generate turnovers in the offensive zone, but other than that, I didn’t notice much else.
Robidas was a pleasant surprise during the showcase. He was one of the players that was a consistent threat both at even strength and on the power play due to his speed and elite wrist shot. Robidas looked more like a dynamic threat in the offensive zone on a consistent basis, something that I wished he would be when I wrote my profile on him a few weeks ago. I was impressed with Robidas in all three zones, giving me more optimism heading into the QMJHL season. I’m not going to make any assumptions about his NHL upside from this tournament, but I’m happier knowing that he does have a higher level in his game.
Mattheos has had a few rough seasons since signing his entry-level deal with regards to injuries and his cancer recovery. He looks to be back into form now, fully embracing the role of a gritty two-way forward with some offensive upside. Mattheos was getting under the opposition’s skin and made his presence known, being a general pain in the…butt wherever he went. If this is a preview of what Mattheos’ season will be like, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he takes on a bigger role with the Wolves. Teams need those agitators, and with the amount of skill that Mattheos has, he could be a tremendous asset for the Hurricanes moving forward.
Ritchie is the first invite to come up thus far. He’s heading into his double overage season after not playing in the OHL last year. I can see that he was a bit of a late bloomer because he skated well and had some decent moments on the blue line. I don’t see a ton of offensive upside but he showed promise as a defender that could move the puck in transition and shut down plays at the blue line. Ritchie probably won’t be selected by the Hurricanes in the 2022 draft but he could generate some interest for an amateur try out with the Wolves once his OHL season is over.
Sellgren had a tough game against Tampa but was a steady presence for the other two games. Sellgren’s skating is elite and it allows for him to close gaps within a step or two, making it tough for players to get any sort of offense going. Sellgren is much more willing to play the body and has a more aggressive style now, something that I was hoping he’d develop after his time with Charlotte during the Calder Cup run. Sellgren is showing promise for an NHL career and you can see that he has started to develop more of an NHL game. I liked his play in transition, and while I wasn’t sold on his power-play skills, it’s clear that he can play in the offensive zone if necessary. Overall, I was impressed with Sellgren’s play. It wasn’t flashy but it didn’t have to be in order to be effective.
Montgomery had a solid game against Florida, a rough outing against Tampa and a good bounce back effort against Nashville. It’s clear what the Hurricanes saw in Montgomery. He’s a raw talent with strong skating skills and a big body. The defensive skills are there and I see a bit of Montgomery’s offensive game, but it’s clear that he needs a lot of polishing. That’s fine, though. Montgomery is playing for one of the best OHL programs and should develop more with an increased role in London this year. He struggled to make breakout passes and defend along the boards against Tampa. Montgomery learned from those mistakes and made improvements against Nashville, which was good to see. His breakouts weren’t perfect but he made more of them and held his own along the boards.
Suzuki made an impact on the Hurricanes’ top line. He dictated the pace of play, was a strong physical presence and contributed on the power play and at even strength. Suzuki is improving in a lot of ways, but what has consistently stood out to me is how much his play away from the puck has improved. Suzuki had to play physically in order to keep up with Nashville and Tampa, which helped keep the Hurricanes in games. Suzuki didn’t carry the play as much as Jarvis did, but he was still a force to be reckoned with and it makes me excited for what he’ll be able to do this season.
I thought that the pairing of Christopoulos and Ritchie was a strong pairing for the Hurricanes against Nashville. Christopoulos was able to keep up and defended well against a much more experienced Nashville team. Christopoulos was invited to camp because he didn’t have an OHL season and the Hurricanes wanted to get more viewings of the player. He could have been on the Hurricanes’ radar as a possible option, so now they get a little more information before the OHL season.
Nash didn’t do a lot to stand out, unfortunately. I liked his speed, but there wasn’t much to write home about otherwise. He wasn’t given a whole lot of minutes and so I can’t speak too much on his overall game. Again, this is a case where the Hurricanes wanted more viewings of a player that didn’t get drafted this past draft.
Aside from Nashville’s overtime winner, I thought that Drury was a strong two-way presence and looked much quicker than he has in the past. He’s a dark horse to make the Hurricanes’ roster due to his strong two-way play, skating, play around the net and reliability in the faceoff circle. I was hoping to see a little more from Drury in the offensive zone, but that just means that he’ll need a little more time to develop in the AHL. Drury was clearly one of the more NHL ready prospects on the Hurricanes’ roster, though. He won’t be out of the NHL for too long.
I didn’t see too much from Robertson in this tournament, I’m not going to lie. Other than the one rush and chip shot that hit the crossbar, Robertson did little to stand out. That’s not a bad thing if you’re a defenseman, but I wish that I could have seen a little more out of Robertson. He has signed with the Hurricanes’ ECHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals.
Rees is the worst player to play against if you’re on the opposing team. The dude just does not quit and will do absolutely anything to get under your skin, even if it means toeing the line a bit. Rees was a part of the Hurricanes’ top line, meaning that his line dictated the pace of play and was the Hurricanes’ best throughout the tournament. I could talk for hours about how Rees is going to be the next great agitator in the NHL, and it’s true. He’s the most aggressive and irritating player to play against and he has a ton of individual skill to boot. Give him one more year in the AHL and he’ll be ready to play with the big boys in the NHL.
Seeley’s best work was done in the defensive zone, where his quick stride and hockey sense allowed for him to close gaps and get in the way of a lot of offense. Seeley is a strong two-way defender whose offensive game is just starting to blossom. I’ve never been afraid to say that I like the way Seeley plays, even if I’m not sure if he’ll earn an NHL contract. The skill he has makes me feel like he’ll at least have third pairing upside, even if his offensive game never fully develops. Seeley had a solid showing alongside Joey Keane and should be a top defenseman for Everett in the WHL this season.
Cotton was a strong presence in the offensive zone and brought a more veteran presence to the lineup. Still, I felt that he was lacking a bit. Cotton was one of the older players at the tournament and yet I didn’t get the sense that he was able to dominate. Still, he made a few nice offensive plays and was able to generate a few scoring chances with his shot and power forward style of play.
Murray can fly and has a heck of a shot, that’s for sure. I felt that his AHL role was undefined heading into the showcase and he emerged as a strong, pro ready player. Murray’s physical play stood out as something I hadn’t noticed prior to the showcase, too. Now I will say that Murray needs to find a way to be present in the offensive zone when he’s not shooting the puck, but the skills are there.
It was hard to notice a lot of the camp invites, as is usually the case. Robertson did make a fantastic pass against Tampa Bay for a goal, but that’s about all I noticed from him. Still, you’re looking at a player that didn’t have a season and one that could be an option in the upcoming draft. I just didn’t see a ton at this tournament.
I was expecting more from Stotts, a former third round pick and camp invite. Nothing about his game stood out other than the pace he played at.
I know that some of the goals against weren’t his fault, but I was hoping to see more from Warm. He let in a few softies and I felt that the two other goalies on the roster outplayed him. Still, Warm’s explosive pushes made for some excellent cross crease saves.
Hamrla was a pleasant surprise, wasn’t he? I don’t think that many Hurricanes fans, myself included, knew much about Hamrla before the Prospects Showcase, so getting to see almost a full game’s worth of work from him was a nice surprise. Hamrla’s glove stole the show and he made a few great saves in transition and against players in the slot. There are some things that I’d like to see him work on, such as his post coverage, his lateral movement, and his overall happy feet. I felt that Hamrla was very erratic against Tampa Bay and occasionally got out of position. Still, for an 18-year-old goaltender, Hamrla stole the show. He was excellent and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do in the QMJHL this year.
Finally, we arrive at Eetu Makiniemi. Honestly, I was impressed with his outing against the Panthers. He was solid and I feel that if he was fighting for an AHL job this year, he made a good case for himself from that start. So why doesn’t he get some time against the next two opponents? Honestly, I’m not sure. Makiniemi had a strong performance but I feel that the Hurricanes wanted to see Hamrla after his performance in relief against Tampa. As for why Warm played in the second half versus Nashville, your guess is as good as mine. I feel that Makiniemi made a strong impression but may start in the ECHL given the depth that the Hurricanes currently have in goal.
Best forward – Seth Jarvis
Best defenseman – Joey Keane (honorable mention to Sellgren and Seeley)
Best goalie – Patrik Hamrla
Best new player – Patrik Hamrla
Best returning player – Seth Jarvis
Biggest surprise – Patrik Hamrla
Best invitee – Ethan Ritchie