To close out our look at Rob Vollman's historical projections for the Carolina Hurricanes players, we are going to look at what might be in store for some of the fringe players in the organization who may see some time with the big club. By my definition a "fringe" player is either a prospect or younger player who has a chance to make the team out of camp but could easily spend the year in the AHL, or a player who is likely going to spend most of the year in the AHL but might be called up for a few games. The Canes had a lot of these types of players see some time with the big club last year and almost all of them were given a chance to succeed once Kirk Muller took over.
Throughout the second half of last season we saw the likes of Drayson Bowman, Jerome Samson and Zac Dalpe get their chances in the top-six and while none of them offered a long-term solution, they each showed some potential last season and could be in the hunt for a roster spot whenever the season starts. Not much is to be expected from them when they do get their call-ups though because they are all unproven talents at this point and we have yet to see what they can do with a full-season's work in the NHL. Bowman might be the only exception because he performed well in a third-line role last season and seemed to adapt to the NHL much better than any of the other AHL tweeners in the organization. Still, he is largely unproven and the expectations for him won't go up until he is able to stick in the NHL for more than 69 games over three seasons, and the same goes for everyone else in the system.
With all that being said, let's take a look at some of these players and what we can expect from them this year based on their historical similarities. Most of these player's main goal is to make the team and be able to stick around for the entire year so we will be looking for that rather than just goals and points.
Best: Sean McKenna (1986)
Worst: Denis Hamel (2002)
Dalpe's development has been frustrating for many Hurricanes fans because there were a lot of people who expected this kid to have his "breakout" year in the NHL by now. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened yet and he has accumulted only 7 points over 31 total NHL games while not looking very impressive in most of them. There are still plenty of reasons to believe in him, though. He's only 22 years old so the window of opportunity for him is still open and he has been a good possession-type player at the AHL level, so hopefully that will carry over to the big leagues sooner or later.
The comparable players listed above don't offer much promise for him, though. If his year goes the way of Sean McKenna, Zack Smith or Jozef Stumpel, then that will probably be good enough for him to stay on the Hurricanes for the entire year, but fans are likely hoping that he can do more than what is projected above. Since his point-per-game total is so low, it's understandable why his comparable players aren't very promising but Dalpe is still untested in NHL waters for the most part, so he could end up exceeding these projections by a decent margin. Personally, I think the 25-30 points is more realistic for him if he makes the team and stays for the majority of the year, which is the furthest thing from a certainty right now.
Best: Chris Oddleifson (1974)
Worst: Yvon Corriveau (1988)
Considering that Bowman has a total of 16 points in 69 games, some of these projections seem a tad generous to say the least. Bowman finished last season off on a strong note but it's still tough to compare his 13 points in 37 games with most of the higher projected players on the list. Take Matthew Barnaby for example, he had a big breakout season when he turned 23 but he had 31 points in 73 games the year before, and Chris Oddleifson had two 20+ point seasons before recording 51 points in 60 games in 1974. Bowman just doesn't have the same track record and I'm not sure if we can expect a huge breakout season from him unless he somehow plays top-six minutes for 60+ games.
I do think Bowman can be a useful NHL player, though but it's going to be tough for him to find a roster spot and be able to stick on the team for the entire season so I'm going to say that he doesn't get above 25 points if he plays in 3/4 of the season.
|25||1984||John Paul Kelly||73||5.5||7.0||6.2||7.9||14.0||3.2|
Best: Brian Spencer (1972)
Worst: Anthony Stewart (2007)
This is the latest prospect who has been given the "bust" label by a more than a few fans and when you consider that Boychuk was a first round pick in 2008 and has still yet to do much of anything in the NHL, it's easy to see why fans are frustrated with him and his development right now. However, I think he's in a similar class to Dalpe where he won't be as good as he was hyped up to be when he was drafted, but there is a chance of him becoming a useful NHL player. I just don't know if it will be on the Hurricanes because there are only so many roster spots available and I'm not sure where Boychuk fits into their short-term plans, if he does at all.
Most of Boychuk's similar players didn't have a huge season when they were around his age, so there aren't going to be a lot of people predicting that this will be "his year" I'm actually more curious about how many games he will play rather than how many points he will record.
Best: John Gould (1974)
Worst: Aaron Gavey (199)
Samson is an undrafted player and a bit of a late-bloomer but there are a lot of things that I like about him. He has been able to tilt possession in the Canes favor during the handful of games he played for them and he has been the Checkers best forward at getting shots on goal for the last couple of seasons. Unfortunately, this hasn't led to success in terms of boxcar numbers and it hasn't been good enough for Samson to earn a full-time roster spot but I think that he will make a good NHL-er somewhere. At the same time, I think his ceiling is something like 30-35 points and the Hurricanes have enough players like that right now. It will be a long-shot for him to get to the John Gould mark listed above.
Best: Brandon Prust (2010)
Worst: Mario Roberge (1992)
Wallace is either going to be in the AHL or on the fourth line in Carolina, so his point total is going to be the least of my concerns heading into this season. If he can give the Canes a similar point-production to what they got out of Anthony Stewart last season along with some better territorial play, then I'll be satisfied. Wallace had a total of 9 points in 49 games last season and that was his career high, so I have the bar set pretty low as it is.
Best: Juha Ylonen (1998)
Worst: Joe Day (1993)
Brett Sutter is probably going to stay in Charlotte for most of the season because he is the captain there and is nothing more than a fourth-line plug at the NHL level. He plays a more important role with the Checkers and it's best for him to stay there rather than play 5-7 minutes with the Canes. The only way I see Sutter staying on the Canes for more than 10 games is if there are multiple injuries and he ends up scoring a goal on his first night with the team.