Carolina Hurricanes in the 2022 NHL Draft: Who will Canes pick?
Darren Yorke waits for the boos.
Yorke, assistant general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes, was named to answer the team‘s call this week at the start of the 2022 NHL Draft.
The site: Bell Center of Montreal.
The Canes and Canadiens aren’t on the best of terms, not after competing offer sheets for players in free agency. The Canadians tried to land Sebastian Aho from Les Canes in 2019 and failed. The Canes responded last year with an offer sheet to forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi who Montreal decided not to match, allowing Kotkaniemi to leave.
The Canes’ social media team rubbed it down with some French tweets while Carolina also made Kotkaniemi a bonus offer of $20, matching Aho’s jersey number.
Cannes fans loved it. Habs fans haven’t and could make it known at the draft on Thursday when the Hurricanes are called up for the first time at the Bell Centre.
“I wasn’t good enough as an athlete to get booed, so at least I’m going to enjoy this experience of having 22,000 people boo me,” Yorke joked. “I may never see that experience again.”
Yorke leads the team’s amateur scouting and draft preparations. During an interview Thursday at his PNC Arena office, he discussed preparing for this year’s draft, looked back at some memorable picks while agreeing that some degree of normality has returned to the process. after the challenges of the pandemic years of 2020. and 2021.
“There will be more discussions”
The Canes don’t have a first-round pick this year, sending him to the Canadiens as part of Kotkaniemi’s compensation. The Habs, in turn, traded that pick to the Arizona Coyotes.
The Canadiens have the No. 1 selection this year, however, after winning the NHL Draft lottery. It will create big cheers on Thursday at the Bell Centre.
Day two of the draft will be much busier for Carolina, which has eight picks in the final six rounds.
The Canes won’t have a selection until the 60th pick, in the second round, the last they’ve picked since 2006 when defenseman Jamie McBain finished 63rd overall. Carolina traded its first-round pick in the 2006 season to St. Louis for forward Doug Weight, who was a member of the Stanley Cup-winning Canes.
“It doesn’t make it harder or easier,” Yorke said. “The process remains the same. Last year, we didn’t know we wouldn’t have a first-round pick going into the draft. You must always work and be ready for anything.
A year ago, the Canes traded their first-round pick — No. 27 — to the Nashville Predators for a pair of second-round picks, Nos. 40 and 51.
Canes president and general manager Don Waddell said Carolina could end up with a first-round pick or move above 60th in the draft this year, not ruling out making moves to Montreal.
“We always talk to the teams and it depends on their price,” Waddell said on Wednesday. “Yes, we would like to evolve, but there is a price that we are ready to pay and we are not going to pay too much.
“If it’s going to happen, it usually happens in the draft when there’s a guy sitting there, maybe 30, that you say you really want. We’ll keep talking to teams, but I think as as we get to the draft, there will be more talk.
For the first time since 2019, there will be fans in the stands and NHL teams will be gathered at tables on the arena floor. The pandemic has resulted in teleconferences during the 2020 and 2021 drafts being held remotely, with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly announcing the selections from NHL studios in Secaucus, New Jersey.
Team officials have huddled in private, with the Canes making the PNC Arena’s home locker room their “war room” for the past two years and bringing many voices to the room.
“When you’re not surrounded by 31 other teams, you can have your conversations with a larger group,” Yorke said.
In the 2019 draft in Vancouver, the Canes advanced Ryan Suzuki with their first-round pick. The trade of forward Jeff Skinner to the Buffalo Sabers in the summer of 2018 had earned the Canes another second-round pick and Carolina used him on goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov of Russia.
Yorke said he and Paul Schonfelder, now the Canes’ goaltending coach, spotted Kotchetkov while he was playing for the Russian team at the 2019 World Junior Championship in Vancouver and Victoria, B.C.
“He was amazing,” Yorke said. “Through technology, we could then go back and increase the sample size, get more videos and watch it, and then rank it. In the end, we put him in a position where we thought his potential was similar to what we see today.
Kochetkov made his NHL debut with the Hurricanes last season and was needed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to spell Antti Raanta. Although a bit unconventional with his technique, he impressed with his competitiveness while displaying a lively, sometimes fiery personal side.
“An infectious personality,” Yorke said.
Kochetkov, who turned 23 on June 25, teamed up with goaltender Alex Lyon to help the Canes’ AHL affiliate Chicago Wolves win the 2022 Calder Cup.
“When we saw his name on the board (and available), it was a no-brainer to select him,” Yorke said. “Right now he looks like a great choice.”
With the easing of pandemic restrictions, NHL teams were once again able to attend a prospect combine in Buffalo this year, watch drills and conduct interviews. Yorke said there were fewer players than in previous years due to the major junior league schedule or injuries or travel issues.
After a few years of relying on impersonal Zoom interviews, a return to face-to-face meetings with players was refreshing, Yorke said.
Few players had a faster or bigger impact on the Canes than Andrei Svechnikov in 2018.
After jumping from 11th pick to second in the NHL Draft lottery, Carolina quickly identified the Russian forward as the player they wanted while understanding the importance of getting it right.
“These can be franchise-altering decisions,” Yorke said.
Yorke said the Canes interviewed Svechnikov at the combine that year, then brought Svechnikov to Raleigh for a few days before the draft to meet with others in the organization.
“The more time you spend with him, the more you realize what a special person he is,” Yorke said. “There are very few athletes or people who, at 18, would have been so mature and so driven to get where they want to go.”
When Svechnikov was picked in the draft in Dallas, his parents and older brother, Evgeny, were there to celebrate. A few years before that night, Evgeny had been taken in the first round by Detroit in the draft and Andrei was there in Sunrise, Florida giving him a big hug in the stands after the selection was announced.
“The best part of being in the draft in person is seeing the reaction from the parents,” Yorke said. “It’s such a special moment. Regardless of whatever happens in their career, the whole family has that memory.
Hurricanes in the 2022 NHL Draft
First round – no selection.
Second Round – No. 60
Third round – No. 71 (of the Blackhawks)
Fourth Round — No. 124
Fifth Round – No. 156
Round Six – No. 171 (of Ducks), 188
Seventh round – No. 205 (of the Blue Jackets), 220.