During the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the Carolina Hurricanes made a total of eight draft picks. Let’s take a look at these draft picks as well as some of their stats and what they could bring to the Hurricanes in the future.
Draft Pick #13: Seth Jarvis
Seth Jarvis is a fast-moving Canadian player who can play either centre or on the right-wing. Last season, Jarvis had 98 points in 58 games split mostly evenly between goals and assists. When watching Jarvis play, he is clearly able to play as a leader on the ice, leading his team in scoring, assists, points, and having the highest +/-.
Jarvis can be clearly seen as a strong attacking player, gifted with strong abilities with the puck on his stick, and would pair especially well with an offensive or two-way defenseman. Jarvis could make an impact in the NHL but he should be given the 2020-21 season in the AHL so long as the WHL season remains cancelled.
Draft Pick #41: Noel Gunler
Noel Gunler is a large Swedish winger, able to play both ways on the ice to find space to set up his teammates. Gunler is largely able to create offensive chances through his positional play while off the puck, as well as through his ability to pick the puck off of other players and create space to start the breakaway.
The key to Gunler’s game is in his positional play as well as his defensive play, finding his strength as a two-way forward. Gunler should spend at least one more season playing in the SHL before coming into a position with either the Hurricanes or the Chicago Wolves in the AHL.
Draft Pick #53: Vasili Ponomaryov
Vasili Ponomaryov can play in any forward position and showcase his strength as a fast Russian forward. During the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, Ponomaryov was able to score three goals, a strong showing considering the team was not strongest in their offensive abilities.
During the regular season, Ponomaryov shows his strength as a two-way forward and leader of his team as an alternate captain, primarily playing at centre, his game is strongly based around back checking to recover the puck, and working hard in 50-50 puck battles. Ponomaryov has a strong presence no matter where he is on the ice and is able to lay a strong hit, leveling his opponent to win puck position.
Draft Pick #69: Alexander Nikishin
Alexander Nikishin is a large Russian player, and the first defensemen picked by the Hurricanes. Standing at 6’4″, Nikishin towers over his opponents and uses his size to his advantage. He fills the role of a two-way defenseman while being unafraid to come forward to the offensive zone and help his team maintain puck possession and lay off a slap shot.
The area where Nikishin could stand to most improve would be through his abilities in using his size to close opposition shooting lanes, while also working to block shots that are incoming to help his goalie keep the puck out of the net. With Nikishin’s size and determination, he is an obvious pick to help the Hurricanes get to be a more physical team. However, he is unlikely to see any time in the NHL for at least another two years, while being judged on growth during training camps and while he continues to play in the MHL and KHL.
Draft Pick #115: Zion Nybeck
Zion Nybeck carries himself as a professional and, although he is rather small physically, he can play his offensive game in any forward position on the ice. The strength of Nybeck’s game can be seen in his patience and power, waiting out the opposing defensemen to set up scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates.
Nybeck plays well in a bumper position, playing well as a goal scorer from rebounds and easily fitting into a team’s power play. While Nybeck is a good player, it is unlikely he will see any time in the NHL for at least the next 3-4 seasons, depending on his performance in training camp and continued play in the SHL.
Draft Pick #159: Lucas Mercuri
Lucas Mercuri is a large Canadian centre who uses his size and weight to his advantage in the USHL. Mercuri is a solid playmaker helping to develop plays for his teammates, doing his best work while moving the puck down low towards the slot. Mercuri is still a developing player and has already signed to play at the University of Massachusetts. Depending on his performance, there may have a career in the AHL for the Chicago Wolves. However, it seems more likely that he will play in other hockey leagues if he continues to pursue a career in hockey.
Draft Pick #199: Alexander Pashin
Alexander Pashin plays a fast forward heading straight at defensemen in the hopes of embarrassing them and attempting to deke his way past. Pashin is a small forward, standing at only 5’7″ and weighing only 154 pounds, and is unlikely to be able to lay a strong hit. During his current season in the MHL, Pashin has totaled 36 points in 27 games and maintaining a +17. It is unlikely that Pashin will play in the NHL. However, with his skill on the puck and ability to set-up passing plays, Pashin would make a good depth forward in the AHL, playing on the third or fourth forward line.
Draft Pick #208: Ronan Seeley
Ronan Seeley is a strong offensive defenseman, doing some of his best work while countering a rush or in 2-on-1 scenarios. Seeley has developed good anticipation and is naturally confident on or off the puck, often willing to take a play head-on and poke the puck away from the opposing forwards.
Seeley can tie up opposing forwards in front of the net to minimize offensive risk and close offensive opportunities. Seeley is also able to play extremely physically along the boards to separate the opposition players from the puck. Seeley is a skilled player and is likely to play in the AHL at some point in his career, although currently he requires more development and will likely continue to play in the WHL until going overage.