Out of all of the forward call-ups from the 2011-12 season, Drayson Bowman left the biggest impression on me. He was one of the team's better forwards at controlling territorial play at even strength, possessed a strong offensive upside and was able to push scoring chances in the Hurricanes favor while playing tough minutes. Unlike a lot of the Hurricanes younger forwards, Bowman showed the ability to play strong with and without the puck, which is why I thought he had the makings of being a solid NHL-er. Bowman also has a lot of offensive potential and could contribute nicely in a secondary role against weaker matchups, so there were reasons to have high hopes for him this year.
Initially slated to be a third or fourth liner, Bowman wasn't going to be depending on to do much more than provide secondary scoring and play solid defensively, something he was perfectly capable of. Even if he wasn't going to reach the scoring levels of his WHL days, Bowman showed last year that he is good enough to perform well in a depth role in the NHL, so it made sense to have some reasonable expectations for him this season. Unfortunately, Bowman didn't exactly live up to these expectations.
Bowman ended the season with only three goals and five points over 37 games, hardly providing any secondary scoring. He was also given multiple shots in the top-six and was in the lineup basically every night, so it's not lik he was being held down by the coaching staff. To make matters worse, his defensive play was much worse than it was last year. His scoring woes can be forgiven because every player goes through cold stretches even when they are creating a lot of offense, which Bowman was. However, his play away from the puck took a huge step back and this what I was the most disappointed in.
I'm not one to overreact to a small sample of games in a shortened year, but I was expecting more from Bowman this year and I think the coaching staff was, as well. Not having
enough any depth scoring was a big problem for the Canes, and Bowman's three goals in 37 games was a major part of it. Third liners aren't expected to score a ton, but they need to do better than this. He still has another year left on his contract, so I would expect Bowman to be back next year, but he will need to have a rebound year if he wants to fit in the Hurricanes long-term plans.