Here we have another pick from the fabled Hurricanes draft class of 2007 who has been a contributor in Charlotte for years but has yet to make his mark in the NHL. Although, what makes Chris Terry different from some of the Canes other forward prospects is that he still hasn't played an NHL game in his career. It's strange when you think about it because over the last three seasons, Terry has been one of the Checkers best forwards and doesn't need to pass through waivers, so one would think that he would get a shot at this point. He has also failed to make the Hurricanes out of camp during that same time period, so the coaching staff clearly hasn't been impressed with what he has done against NHL competition so far.
The reason why Terry has yet to play in the NHL is because he is a top-six player and has yet to show the defensive instincts or the strength to be otherwise. Terry is only 5'10" and 190 lbs., so he doesn't exactly have the frame to be on a checking line and his defensive game isn't anything to write home about either, so he fits best on a scoring line. The Hurricanes aren't going to call-up Terry to plug him in a fourth-line role because that doesn't do anything for his development and it hurts the Checkers, as well. He is one of their best players and there isn't a need for the Canes to take him away from them if he isn't going to be used in a contributing role. So, unless the Hurricanes can give Terry top-six minutes, he probably isn't going to see much time in Raleigh.
Terry has shown that he has loads of potential, though. Like I mentioned earlier, he has been one of the Checkers best forwards for the last three years and led the team in points for the last two seasons. His 2010-11 campaign was very impressive as he put up a career-high 34 goals and 64 points. He saw his numbers go down this year (16 goals, 59 points) but he still led the team in scoring and was one of their more impressive players. Terry's high offensive acumen dates back to his junior days with the Plymouth Whalers where he had a 44-goal, 101 point season in 2007-08 as an 18-year old. He also had 201 shots on goal in 74 games with the Checkers last season which translates to about 1.5 shots per game in the NHL, which was the third highest translation among the Checkers last year.
One would think that Terry should have been given a chance with the Hurricanes next season because of the holes the Hurricanes had in their top-six, so it was a surprise to me that he didn't make the team but it makes sense in the long run. Under Maurice, Terry was likely going to be placed in a fourth line role like Boychuk, Dalpe, Bowman and Samson were before him, so it made sense to keep him in Charlotte where he would be guaranteed top-six minutes. He may have had an opportunity later in the season when Kirk Muller took over but the Checkers were in a tight race for the playoffs for most of the year and couldn't afford to lose arguably their best forward. You could probably say the same about Bowman and Samson but the difference is that those two have been able to contribute outside of a scoring role with the Hurricanes. We don't know if Terry can do that just yet. Sure, it would be been nice to see him get a shot just to see what he could do but it was better for the Checkers if he stayed with them.
The biggest question surrounding Terry is whether or not he has a future in the NHL. That is something I can't answer right now but his numbers in previous leagues are nothing but impressive and he has a clear talent for scoring goals, so some teams might be interested in his services even if it isn't the Hurricanes. Him making the team out of camp in this coming season is going to be tough because he has a lot of players to compete with. The Hurricanes are likely going to have one player from within the organization take over the third line center role and while Terry can play center, it's tough to say what makes him a better candidate for that role than Dalpe, Boychuk or Welsh? His good track record in the AHL is one thing he has going for him, so we will see if that plays a role in the coaching staff's decision come this Fall. As of right now, he should be in the running but him playing in the NHL next year is anything but a guarantee. A good camp and pre-season might change this, though.