Hurricanes stand pat, select three Finns in final seven picks

Carolina wraps up NHL Draft without further bolstering current lineup

A general view of a video board displaying all 31 first-round selections in the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center in Chicago. (David Banks—/USA TODAY Sports)

RALEIGH —— After taking Czech forward Martin Necas with the 12th overall pick Friday night, Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis and his team had a busy Day 2 with seven selections to make on Saturday. After dealing three draft picks leading in to this weekend’s draft, Francis opted to keep the rest, selecting three forwards, three defensemen and a goalie to complete their 2017 class in Chicago.

It started when they went off the board for a Finnish forward in the second round —— much like they did two years ago when they selected a guy named Sebastian Aho —— to take Eetu Luostarinen at No. 42. Luostarinen was one of two Eetus —— they took fellow Finn Eetu Makiniemi in the fourth round with the 104th overall pick —— and three Finns the team selected Saturday.

Carolina used their other second-round pick, 52nd overall, to take University of Michigan defenseman Luke Martin. Martin already has one year of collegiate experience under his belt.

Here’s a look at Carolina’s seven second-day picks at the draft in Chicago.

Eetu Luostarinen, C
6’2, 178 pounds
KalPa (Liiga)
2nd round, 42nd overall (not in NSJ Top 100)

Francis & Co. must have really liked what they saw of Luostarinen, because he was an off-the-board pick compared to most draft lists. It marks the third straight year Carolina drafted a Finnish forward in the second round (Aho, 2015; Janne Kuokkanen, 2016), and Luostarinen is a 6-foot-2, 178-pound center who played in the top Finnish league, Liiga, last season, registering seven points in 32 games there. He also had a goal and four assists in seven games for Finland at the World Junior Championships. He’s a solid skater and two-way player who some considered a sleeper.

Luke Martin, D
6’2, 221 pounds
Michigan (NCAA)
2nd round, 52nd overall (No. 70 in NSJ Top 100)

Martin already has NHL size along with a year playing men in the collegiate ranks. He was part of a disappointing Wolverines team in legendary coach Red Berenson’s final season, and could be one of the underrated players in the draft if he can start to produce on offense. International Scouting Services ranked him the draft’s top stay-at-home defenseman, and he came to Michigan highly touted but managed just seven points in his freshman season. Even if Martin doesn’t develop into a point producer, his mobility, strength and ability to make the first past make him a legitimate NHL prospect.

Morgan Geekie C
6’2, 190 pounds
Tri-City (WHL)
3rd round, 67th overall (No. 68 in NSJ Top 100)

Geekie went undrafted last year but had a monster season with Tri-City in 2016-17, piling up 90 points —— including 35 goals —— for the Americans and tying for ninth in the WHL in scoring. Big and strong, Geekie fits the Bill Peters mold: hard-working and willing to compete in all three zones.

Stelio Mattheos, RW
6’0, 189 pounds
Brandon (WHL)
3rd round, 73rd overall (No. 38 in NSJ Top 100)

Mattheos is a guy who can play up and down the lineup and at any forward spot. He slid into the top center role with Brandon when second overall pick Nolan Patrick went down, but he’s probably best suited at right wing. The top overall pick in the 2014 WHL bantam draft, Mattheos had 61 points last year.

Eetu Makiniemi, G
6’2, 176 pounds
Jokerit (Fin-Jr.)
4th round, 104th overall (not in NSJ Top 100)

Makiniemi is the first European goalie selected by the Hurricanes since they took Frederik Andersen in the seventh-round in 2010, and the first from Finland since Antti Jokela in 1999. He is signed to a two-way deal with Jokerit of the KHL, and was the ninth goaltender selected in the draft.

Brendan de Jong, D
6’5, 192 pounds
Portland (WHL)
6th round, 166th overall (not in NSJ Top 100)

De Jong is a lanky defenseman whose brother, Nolan, was a 2013 seventh-round pick of the Wild and captained the University of Michigan last season, a team that included Brendan’s draft classmate Luke Martin. He had 23 points with the Winterhawks last year after going undrafted last year.

Ville Rasanen, D
6’1, 167 pounds
Jokipojat (Fin.-2)
7th round, 197th overall (not in NSJ Top 100)

Rasanen was the final player and third Finn selected by Carolina. He played in the Finnish junior league last year —— where he had 18 points in 22 games —— but is expected to join Jukurit of Liiga in 2017-18. Rasanen is a good skater and offensive talent who is a bit of a project but talented.