NHL Draft Preview: Hurricanes’ roster rebuild starts this weekend in Vegas

Carolina has nine picks and lots of work to do at the draft

Eric Tulsky, the newly named Hurricanes general manager, could accomplish more than picking players at this weekend’s NHL Draft in Las Vegas. (Cory Lavalette / North State Journal)

RALEIGH — If you’re looking for a silver lining to the Carolina Hurricanes being eliminated in the second round of this year’s playoffs, you can find one at this week’s NHL Draft in Las Vegas.

The Hurricanes gave up Michael Bunting, three prospects and two conditional draft picks to acquire star winger Jake Guentzel at the trade deadline, hoping the bold move would bring the Stanley Cup back to Raleigh.


It didn’t, but by tacking conditions on the two draft picks earmarked for Pittsburgh in the Guentzel trade, Carolina hedged its bets. Because of it, new GM Eric Tulsky will have more ammunition in what figures to be a consequential weekend for the franchise.

The Hurricanes’ first-round pick, which will be 27th overall, was part of the deal for Guentzel. But because Carolina didn’t advance to the Stanley Cup final, the pick instead became a second-round selection — originally Philadelphia’s that was acquired in the trade that sent Tony DeAngelo to the Flyers in July 2022. Carolina also retained the conditional fifth-round pick that would have been sent to the Penguins had the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup.

That leaves Tulsky and the Hurricanes with all seven of their picks, along with a pair of sixth-round selections acquired in trades with Ottawa (Jamieson Rees dealt to the Senators) and Toronto (salary retention as a third party in the Maple Leafs acquisition of Ilya Lyubushkin from Anaheim).

The biggest asset Carolina has, however, is restricted free agent Martin Necas. Necas, the 12th overall pick in the 2017 draft, has averaged 26 goals and 62 points the last two seasons. But with Necas’ desire to move into a bigger role somewhere other than Raleigh, Tulsky and the Hurricanes’ front office are shopping the 25-year-old this offseason.

And there’s no better place to get a deal done than at the draft. While Necas holds some leverage with arbitration rights, Carolina has plenty of suitors who would love to add the Czech winger’s combination of speed and skill to their roster.

“The goal is to find ways to keep getting better,” Tulsky said at his introductory press conference. “And the good news for us is we are well-positioned to keep taking steps.”

So while Darren Yorke, the Hurricanes’ assistant GM, runs the draft from the team’s table at The Sphere on Friday and Saturday, Tulsky will be talking to his peers about Necas and all the other ways he can shape a roster with several holes.

As Tulsky said, “it’s a challenge” — and the first test for a franchise looking to take the next step under new leadership.

Draft Prospect Spotlight

Igor Chernyshov
Igor Chernyshov, LW

6’3, 204 pounds • Dynamo (KHL)

After years of not drafting Russian players, the Hurricanes have picked nine in the past two seasons. Chernyshov already has NHL size and plays a north-south style that would fit Carolina.

NSJ Rank: 24th

What they’re saying

Scott Wheeler, The Athletic: “He plays a straight-line game and has the individual skill and a quick release to go at defenders.”

Dobber Hockey: “Dominates the small-area game, and could develop into a top-six piece either at center or wing.”

Corey Pronman, The Athletic: “He’s a big, powerful winger who skates well and has a lot of offensive creativity … (who) sees the ice well and can create at the net.”

Eemil Veeni
Eemil Veeni, G

6’3, 187 pounds • Kiekko-Pojat (Mestis)

The Hurricanes have drafted at least one goalie in nine of the past 10 years, so odds are they will pick one this weekend. Veeni has size and athleticism, but there are concerns about his maturity.

NSJ Rank: 76th

What they’re saying

Corey Pronman, The Athletic: “He has an NHL toolkit and could be a backup goalie … whether he could be a long-term player, he’s too inconsistent at this point to say.”

The Hockey News: “Vinni has been on the radar in Finland for a while, and the past couple years have been up and down.”

Dobber Hockey: “A smooth skating, aggressive netminder that is prone to letting the leaky one through.”

Aatos Koivu
Aatos Koivu, C

6’, 170 pounds • Assat (Liiga)

The son of former Canadiens captain Saku Koivu, the younger Koivu has the work ethic of his father along with a top-level shot. Carolina could also use more right-handed centers.

NSJ Rank: 94th

What they’re saying

The Hockey News: “Awesome one-timer is a weapon on the power play, and he plays a solid 200-foot game.”

Corey Pronman, The Athletic: “Koivu is a strong skater with a stride that will be able to move at an NHL pace. He has good hands, and uses his skill to attack at the net.”

Elite Prospects: “In addition to having the right habits away from the puck, Koivu has legitimate skill as a shooter.”

NSJ’s 2024 NHL Draft Top 100 Prospects

1. Macklin Celebrini, C
2. Artyom Levshunov, D
3. Zeev Buium, D
4. Anton Silayev
5. Cayden Lindstrom, C
6. Ivan Demidov, RW
7. Zayne Parekh, D
8. Berkly Catton, C
9. Sam Dickison, D
10. Tij Iginla, C
11. Carter Yakemchuk, D
12. Beckett Sennecke, RW
13. Konsta Helenius, C
14. Cole Eiserman, LW
15. Trevor Connelly, LW
16. Michael Hage, C
17. Adam Jiricek, D
18. Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, RW
19. Liam Greentree, RW
20. Sacha Boisvert, C
21. Jett Luchanko, C
22. Terik Parascak, RW
23. Cole Beaudoin, C
24. Igor Chernyshov, LW
25. Julius Miettinen, C
26. Ryder Ritchie, RW
27. Charlie Elick, D
28. Dean Letourneau, C
29. Matvei Gridin, RW
30. Leo Sahlin Wallenius, D
31. Emil Hemming, RW
32. Marek Vanacker, LW
33. EJ Emery, D
34. Adam Jecho, C
35. Sam O’Reilly, RW
36. Adam Kleber, D
37. Henry Mews, D
38. Linus Eriksson, C
39. Andrew Basha, LW
40. Maxim Masse, RW
41. John Mustard, C
42. Ben Danford, D
43. Stian Solberg, D
44. Aron Kiviharju, D
45. Dominik Badinka, D
46. Teddy Stiga, C
47. Nikita Artamonov, LW
48. Jesse Pulkkinen, D
49. Tanner Howe, LW
50. Cole Hutson, D
51. Harrison Brunicke, D
52. Lucas Pettersson, C
53. Luca Marrelli, D
54. Kamil Bednarik, C
55. Alfons Freij, D
56. Leon Muggli, D
57. Yegor Surin, C
58. Will Skahan, D
59. Spencer Gill, D
60. Lukas Fischer, D
61. Carter George, G
62. Max Plante, LW
63. Brodie Ziemer, RW
64. Colton Roberts, D
65. Justin Poirier, RW
66. Veeti Vaisanen, D
67. William Zellers, LW
68. Tomas Galvas, D
69. Eriks Mateiko, LW
70. Carson Wetsch, RW
71. Raoul Boilard, C
72. Colin Ralph, D
73. Simon Zether, C
74. Tomas Lavoie, D
75. Ollie Josephson, C
76. Eemil Veeni, G
77. Hagen Burrows, RW
78. Jack Berglund, C
79. Ondrej Kos, LW
80. Alexander Zetterberg, C
81. Luke Misa, C
82. Matvei Shuravin, D
83. Jacob Battaglia, RW
84. Mikhail Yegorov, G
85. Javon Moore, LW
86. Melvin Fernstrom, RW
87. Kasper Pikkarainen, RW
88. Noel Fransen, D
89. Tarin Smith, D
90. Miguel Marques, RW
91. Christian Humphreys, C
92. Mac Swanson, C
93. Ethan Procyszyn, C
94. Aatos Koivu, C
95. Timur Kol, D
96. Owen Allard, C
97. Clarke Caswell, LW
98. Sebastian Soini, D
99. Daniil Ustinkov, D
100. Pavel Moysevich, G