The Canadian Hockey League's regular season ended this weekend and some good news for Hurricanes fans is that many of their prospect's respective teams made the post-season and will have a chance to put themselves on the map this spring. Some of them are already well-known in the hockey community, but the playoffs are always a great opportunity for a player to create a lot of publicity for himself if he has a good showing or a big week. Hurricanes fans should be pretty excited to see what Ryan Murphy, Victor Rask, Brock McGinn, Keegan Lowe and others can do in the playoffs, but before we start to think about that, let's take a look at how they performed in the regular season.
What we are going to do to analyze their performance is look at how what they did in juniors would equate to if they played in the NHL through Behind The Net's equivalency values. Each league is said to have a different level of difficulty compared to the NHL and the junior leagues have the lowest (.29-.30) because it's just kids under 21 playing against each other.
There are a ton of high scoring games in junior hockey and thus, a lot of players with gaudy stat-lines which they probably wouldn't put up in the NHL at their age. NHL equivalency values are a good way to factor for this and while they aren't perfect, they do a solid job of bringing context into a player's performance in different leagues. You might remember me using this during the lockout to gauge the performance of the Hurricanes players overseas and we're going to do the same thing with their junior hockey prospects.
The numbers aren't going to be very impressive since they don't have many top-tier CHL prospects in their system, but their development is still promising.
Hurricanes CHL Prospect Equivalency Values
Victor Rask's performance would be the most impressive in an NHL setting, as he was better than a point-per-game player with the Calgary Hitmen this year. His numbers are probably a tad misleading because he was only there for part of the season after starting the year in the AHL, but there is no doubt that he was very impressive. I'm not sure what his ceiling is as a second-round draft pick, but the future is certainly bright for him. After all, he put up some great numbers on one of the best teams in the WHL and was also a part of Team Sweden's silver medal winning team in the World Juniors. Rask has a lot of talent as a play-maker and his skating has improved over the past year, so it's possible that he could be very useful at the NHL level in a couple years.
It might be a little discouraging to see Ryan Murphy not first on this list considering his draft pedigree and his numbers in previous years, but I'm not terribly worried. He had a rough beginning to the season but improved over time and even got a few games with the Hurricanes this season. There is a lot of concern over Murphy's development because he tends to get caught in no-man's land while defending and is prone to mistakes, but I think those come with the territory of being an offensive defenseman. We saw this during his four games with the Hurricanes where he had his moments but also struggled at times. He will likely be with Carolina or Charlotte full-time next year but I'm not sure in what capacity. Kirk Muller gave him a ton of minutes during his four-game stint in the NHL but I think he is more suitable as a third-pairing guy at the pro level for now. He could be more.
Another player who had a tough start to the year was Brock McGinn, but he exploded in the second half and finished the season with 28 goals. McGinn's 54 points in 68 games ranked him 4th on the Guelph Storm and would equate to that of a third-liner or bottom-six player in the NHL. He only just turned 19 and was predominately a checking line player before this season, so it will be interesting to see how he performs next year. I still think that he was a bit of a reach as a second round pick, but that won't matter as long as he has a future as an NHL player. His performance in the second half of Guelph's season is encouraging for that.
The rest of the crop here is a bit tough to judge because they are all defensemen, many of whom are depended on for play in their own end so it's not fair to critique them based on goals and points alone. I will say that Trevor Carrick's offense has come around a bit better than I expected. He was drafted this season to be more of a stay-at-home defender, but he has shown some great offensive instincts this year and has even spent time on the powerplay. Keegan Lowe has also performed well offensively with his 15 goals and really shined during the World Juniors when Edmonton lost a few key defensemen.
Defensemen prospects are kind of a mystery when it comes to projecting their future so I'm not sure what to think about Carrick, Lowe & Levi when it comes to how they will do in the pros. All three are depended on for their play in their own end and when it comes to that, I've heard mostly good things. about all three. Both Lowe & Levi should be with the Checkers next season along with Danny Biega which should make some fans excited about the future of Carolina's considering their potential. The only player who I'm worried about is Tyler Stahl, who has been suspended more than a few times and a healthy scratch on many nights.
Many of these players had good season and for most of them, their year is far from over. Trevor Carrick's Mississauga Steelheads are the only team here not to make the playoffs, so be on the lookout for most of these players in the next couple of months. Also keep your eye on Oshawa Generals goaltender Daniel Altshuller, who was one of the Hurricanes fourth round picks from this most recent draft and should be starting the bulk of their games in the playoffs.