Carolina Hurricanes: Top 8 prospects worth getting excited about

Seth Jarvis (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
Seth Jarvis (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /
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Seth Jarvis
Seth Jarvis (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

Though they don’t get talked about as much as some other star-studded teams, the Carolina Hurricanes have quietly become a very good hockey club.

Not only have they made the Playoffs the last two straight years, but they also advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2019.

Obviously, a huge reason for this is the talent they have. Up front, they have arguably the most underrated forward in the league in Sebastian Aho, along with other underrated talents in Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov. Then there is the blueline, which is one of the best in the entire league. It consists of guys like Dougie Hamilton (who was a Norris Trophy frontrunner prior to being injured last season), Jaccob Slavin, and Brett Pesce.

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Another big reason for them turning into the team they have is due to Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour. The 50-year-old has been their Head Coach since the 2018-19 season, and has immediately turned the franchise around. By all accounts, players love playing for the former NHL veteran who suited up for 1,484 career NHL games himself, a run that included winning the Stanley Cup as Captain of the Hurricanes in 2005-06. With him behind the bench, along with their young talent beginning to mature, they could be in for an even better 2020-21 season.

As if all of what was said above wasn’t good enough, the Hurricanes have even more going for them, boasting what many consider to be the best prospect pool in the entire NHL. Many of the players on this list are close to being NHL ready, and will soon enough (possibly this season) be helping the Hurricanes as they look to achieve the ultimate goal of a Stanley Cup Championship, something they have not done since 2006.

As mentioned in every other Top 8 Prospects article throughout this series, any player who has played in more NHL games than any other league in a season, regardless of the season, will not be included.

Top 8 Prospects in the Carolina Hurricanes Farm System

Joey Keane (82)
Joey Keane #82 of the New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

8. Joey Keane

In mid-February of 2020, the Carolina Hurricanes chose to trade away prospect Julien Gauthier, who they had taken in the First-Round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, in exchange for defenseman Joey Keane. At the time of the trade, Gauthier was tearing it up in the AHL with the Charlotte Checkers, posting 26 goals in 44 games. Moving a prospect that offensively gifted speaks volumes to how high the Hurricanes brass thinks of Keane.

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Keane, 21, was taken in the Third-Round (No. 88 overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers. Last season marked his first as a pro, and he certainly impressed with 30 points in 49 games for the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL. Those numbers are solid for any defenseman, let alone one who was 20-years-old for the entire season. His offense continued when he was traded, as he put up seven points in nine games with the Checkers. He will spend the 2020-21 season in the AHL as well, and look to further improve on his point totals from last season.

7. Anttoni Honka

Anttoni Honka is a highly debated prospect when it comes to ranking him on the Hurricanes depth chart. Some believe he is in their top five, while others (myself included) aren’t as high on him. While he is extremely talented, he is very small for a defenseman, listed at just five-foot-nine, 170 pounds. He is still just 20-years-old however, so he may still be able to add some size.

Honka, who was taken 83rd overall by the Canes at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, has spent the majority of the last three seasons in the SM-liiga, and is currently in his fourth. Last season was his most impressive to date, as he put up 19 points in 43 games for JYP HT Jyvaskyla. So far this year, he has appeared in 22 games, posting seven points. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to the North American style of play whenever he decides to give it a try.