The Best Draft Class in Carolina Hurricanes History

Carolina Hurricanes best draft class

NHL teams build their teams in many different ways. Some construct their clubs via free agency while others do it through trades. However, the main way teams create a roster is through the NHL Draft. Most years have maybe one or two players make the roster, but some years the general manager gets it right and gets a cornerstone or two for the franchise. The Last Word on Hockey is doing the best draft class for each team with the exception of the Seattle Kraken. Today we look at the Carolina Hurricanes best draft class.

Carolina Hurricanes Best Draft Class: 1982 (Hartford Whalers)

In 1982, the Hartford Whalers were still in the early stages of a new life in the NHL. They had just graduated from the WHA in 1979 and were having trouble adjusting compared to their other WHA alumni. A last-place finish in their division meant they would be missing the playoffs for consecutive years.

The team had just drafted future franchise centreman Ron Francis in 1981 and were now in desperate need of surrounding him with enough talent to vault the Whalers out of the basement and into consistent playoff contention.

The 1982 draft did exactly that.

The three major players selected in this draft class helped the Whalers go on to make the playoffs in seven consecutive seasons. On top of that, they had a first-place regular-season finish in the Adams Division in 1986-87. The team didn’t have much playoff success, but the talent identified in this draft kept the Whalers in the conversation of a very competitive division for several years.

Their contributions, plus the incredible value of all three players being selected in the third round or later, make the 1982 draft the best in Carolina Hurricanes’ franchise history.

Paul Lawless, Round 1, 14th Overall

Lawless ended up playing over 200 NHL games and did put together a 22-goal, 54 point season for the Whalers in 1986-87. Relative to his other peers in this same class, however, his accomplishments were minor.

Pair that with the fact he was taken ahead of the likes of Dave Andreychuk (16th overall) and Ken Daneyko (18th overall), and it’s easy to see how this first-round selection could have been miles better.

Mark Paterson, Round 2, 35th overall

Another miss, this time a big one. Paterson played in only 29 NHL games and didn’t make an impact.

Kevin Dineen, Round 3, 56th overall

The Whalers started to strike gold by round three.

Kevin Dineen played 1,188 NHL games, 10 seasons of which spent with the Whalers and another two with the Hurricanes. He amassed 355 goals and 760 points over his 20-year career.

Highlights of his initial stint with the team included leading them in scoring multiple times, including the 1985-86 playoffs. His effort in those playoffs helped lead the Whalers to their first and only playoff series win.  He would compete in two All-Star games in 1988 and 1989.

Dineen was eventually named captain of the Whalers in his return to Hartford in 1996. He would go on to become the first captain in Carolina Hurricanes’ history, scored the Hurricanes’ first-ever NHL goal, and helped the Hurricanes make the playoffs for the first time in 1999.

Dineen’s contributions to both the Whalers and the Hurricanes make him one of the best selections in franchise history.

Ulf Samuelsson, Round 4, 67th overall

The most hated man in hockey, Ulf Samuelsson, didn’t have the best reputation in the world, but he did have a legitimate NHL resume.

Over his 16-year career, Samuelsson played in over 1,080 games as one of the league’s most feared defencemen. He totalled a staggering 2,453 penalty minutes and helped the Whalers make the postseason in six of his seasons with the team. Samuelsson himself was a two-time Stanley Cup winner in 1991 and 1992 with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

He may be remembered best for his ability to hurt and agitate people, but the Whalers did incredibly well to find such a substantial NHLer in the fourth round.

Ray Ferraro, Round 5, 88th overall

Before he became a world-class broadcaster, Ray Ferraro established himself as quite the goal scorer in the NHL. Ferraro played in 1,258 games, scored 408 goals, and put up 898 points when all was said and done.

He reached the 40-goal plateau twice in his career, one of which was with the Whalers in 1988-89 when he finished second in goals to Dineen. Ferraro played a key role in the Whalers’ playoff series win in 1985-86 against Quebec, putting up nine points, and was a major factor in their consecutive postseason streak through the late 80’s.

The undersized forward from Trail, BC ended up with the fifth-most goals from the entire 1982 draft class. A remarkable feat for a fifth-round selection and a testament to the excellent work by the Whalers’ scouts that year.

Randy Gilhen, Round 6, 109th overall

Randy Gilhen played in over 400 NHL games, but only two of them were with the Whalers. Despite that, the scouts did well to identify a future, long-time NHL’er in such a late-round. Gilhen put up only modest numbers in his career, with 55 goals and 155 points.

Rounds 7-12

No NHL’ers were selected in these rounds.

Honourable Mentions

Carolina Hurricanes Draft Class of 2010

Justin Faulk, Jeff Skinner, and Frederik Andersen serve as close to an ideal draft plan as possible in terms of obtaining a top-six forward, top-four defenceman, and starting goaltender.

This class just about made the cut as the best, but had a couple of knocks against it. Andersen was re-drafted afterwards, and Faulk was the only one of the three to make the playoffs with the team. Andersen now having returned to the Hurricanes keeps this as one to watch in terms of future evaluations, should the reunion find success.

Carolina Hurricanes Draft Class of 1998

The draft that brought in Erik Cole wasn’t flashy but it did set the stage for some important years in the team’s history. Cole, Josef Vasicek, Tommy Westlund, and Jaroslav Svoboda all played parts in at least one of or both of the Hurricanes’ deep playoff runs in 2002 and 2006. Considering all selections came in the third round or later, the Hurricanes did a great job of finding valuable pieces deep in the draft.

Carolina Hurricanes Draft Class of 2002

Taking a goalie in the first round is already a risky move. Doing so when you’ll only have three other picks in the draft is a completely different level of bold. Thankfully for the Hurricanes, Cam Ward would prove to be an excellent use of the 25th overall pick. Ward’s top accomplishment came in 2006 when he suited up for 23 playoff games, won the Stanley Cup in seven games, and earned a Conn Smythe trophy as the cherry on top.

Carolina Hurricanes Draft Class of 2003

In back-to-back years, the Hurricanes only hit on one of their picks. In both cases, the pick couldn’t have been better. With the second overall selection, the Hurricanes added Eric Staal to the franchise.

The 2003 draft was loaded with legitimate NHL talent, with a whopping 17 first-rounders playing more than 700 NHL games.  That makes the Staal selection even more impressive, as he currently leads this star-studded cast in games played, goals scored, and points. He was monumental in the ‘Canes 2006 Stanley Cup win and will go down as one of, if not the greatest Hurricane of all time.

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