Carolina Hurricanes Draft - Day 1 Recap

-Julien Gauthier smiles along with Hurricanes GM Ron Francis and Director of Amateur Scouting Tony MacDonald

June 24, 2016 was a huge first day for the Carolina Hurricanes and the two players they selected in Round One of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft in Buffalo, New York. Day One of the 2016 Draft got off to a big start with the Toronto Maple Leafs selecting American sensation Auston Matthews with the 1st overall pick. An impressive total of twelve Americans were selected in the first round of this year’s draft, which set a new record. Five of them came from St. Louis, Missouri alone. There was plenty of young talent to choose from this year in Round One, so how did the Hurricanes fare?

This year the Carolina Hurricanes held not one but two selections in Round One, with the first being their very own pick at 13th overall and the other being the 21st overall selection (which originally belonged to the Los Angeles Kings and was acquired via a trade from 2015 that sent Andrej Sekera to LA). Holding two picks in Round One there was some chatter as to whether Ron Francis would hold onto both picks or try to make a trade. As it turned out Ron felt it best to hold onto both picks and use them to select players.

With the 13th overall selection the Hurricanes selected defenseman Jake Bean. This came to the surprise of many Canes fans, including myself, who surely believed that drafting forwards would be the focus of Round One. We were wrong, however, as Ron Francis and company went forward with drafting the defenseman out of the WHL from the Calgary Hitmen. With Centermen Logan Brown (born in Raleigh by the way) and Tyson Jost off the board it appears Ron decided to select the best player available at 13 overall. Bean was considered by a few analysts to even be the best defenseman available in the whole draft and certainly one of the best eligible for the draft. For anyone unfamiliar with Bean think of him as being somewhat comparable to Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators, with maybe not quite as much upside but definitely a talented future NHL player. I don’t think you can go wrong with this pick either way.

-Jake Bean putting his Draft Day jersey beside Canes GM Ron Francis

Jake Bean is from Calgary, Alberta and has now spent two seasons playing junior hockey for the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL. Standing at 6’1 172 lbs Bean does not currently have a ton of size, especially for a defenseman, but keep in mind he is only 18 years old. Bean is coming off a terrific season of hockey with the Hitmen, scoring 24 total goals this past season, which lead all defensemen in the WHL. That total is pretty darn impressive for a defenseman. He also put together 40 helpers on his way to a 64 point season with Calgary. Bean is touted as a naturally gifted offensive defenseman that can skate well and has the ability to really move the puck up the ice with speed. He’s a nimble skater that is a perfect fit as a quarterback on the power play, feeding the puck ahead to his teammates. To go along with his playmaking abilities this blue liner also has a nasty wrist shot (that more than likely contributed to his 24 goal year).

But Bean’s strengths are not limited to the offensive zone. He is a defenseman that can see the play develop in front of him and make smart, effective plays with the puck and without the puck. He’s a positionally sound player, though it can be argued that he could be more aggressive on the defensive end of the puck and gain some more strength to help fill out his game. His size and strength should come along with time as he continues in growth with both his body and in his game. Bean will need another year or two in Juniors to continue to develop and get stronger before he’ll be ready for the NHL level. Carolina also have an overflow of budding, young talent at the defense position so cracking the Canes lineup is already not an easy task. The addition of Jake Bean only helps pile on to the relentless depth of one of the best defensive pipelines in the entire NHL in Carolina. I am excited for the future on the Hurricanes blue line!

-Jake Bean in a game with the Calgary Hitmen

The Hurricanes also held the 21st overall pick and with that they selected big bodied right wing Julien Gauthier. The week leading up to the draft I was analyzing a handful of prospects and Gauthier was one I was kind of hoping might fall into the Canes lap at 21. As it turned out that actually happened. There were a number of different forwards available at 21 but I felt the Hurricanes made an excellent decision by drafting Gauthier. Julien is an 18 year old from Québec who has been playing junior hockey with the Val-d’Or Foreurs of the QMJHL for three years now. Julien is considered to be a power forward with a goal scoring touch. Standing at 6’4 225 lbs this kid is HUGE. I mean that is a big body and this is just the kind of guy that will go to gritty areas in front of the net and wreak havoc (good luck moving him out of the way). He’s big but he is fast and is able to pick pucks off of opponents and quickly transition from defense to offense. He can also elude defenders easily with his swift, versatile movement. This makes him thoroughly tough to play against and defend. I mean imagine a truck on skates hauling toward you at lightning speed. Not only can he combine his size with speed, he also has solid puck handling skill, but we’re not even stopping there either because Gauthier can also put a decent amount of pucks in the back of the net. In 54 games this year with the Foreurs Julien scored 41 goals and notched 16 assists for a total of 57 points. The year before he totaled 38 goals, 35 assists for 73 points in 68 games.

-Julien Gauthier firing a wrist shot

Gauthier is such a dynamic offensive player who is ready to do battle for a chance to score a goal, be it on second or third chance opportunities off of rebounds. This is a player who will contribute game in and game out and give you everything he’s got in the tank. He’s not weak defensively either and can play a physical game when he needs to. I’m not saying he’s a wrecking ball out there but he can handle his own for sure. He has excellent work ethic and loves to stay in the gym. I’m sure Bill Peters and Rod Brind’Amour will have no trouble with this kid at all. Gauthier has the maturity and work ethic of someone older than 18 and as mentioned, he trains like a professional. So with him being 18 is there chance he makes the Hurricanes roster coming out of development camp? I’d say there is a chance but it’s pretty slim I’ll be honest. He definitely has the size to play in the NHL but can he keep up with the speed of the NHL game? Is his skill set pretty tuned up to the NHL level? Those are some questions that will be answered in the coming months before the 2016 season starts. Gauthier has time to improve himself over the summer and try and compete for a spot but I wouldn’t be surprised if he is headed back to juniors. There’s also the possibility he could play in Charlotte in the AHL as well and I think his level of play could help put him there. Julien is just the kind of guy the Hurricanes need in their system. His ability to drive the net and box out defenders will allow the Hurricanes to create more scoring opportunities, plus you can expect Gauthier to shoot the puck himself quite a bit too. (Gauthier highlights) (Jake Bean highlights)

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