After selecting defenseman Ryan Murphy in the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the Hurricanes added two more highly-touted prospects to their system.
With the 42nd overall pick, the Carolina Hurricanes selected Victor Rask from Sweden. Rask, a two way center for Leksand, scored five goals and six assists in 37 games. While playing for the U-20 Swedish junior team, Rask recorded five assists in just two games. His coaches named him one of the top three players on the Swedish team that finished in second place behind Team USA. Though his numbers don’t appear to be second round material, Rask is only 18 years old and has a lot of room to grow.
“He’s a very skilled centerman, a great puck distributor with a good shot and quick release,” said Hurricanes Director of Amateur Scouting Tony MacDonald. “He’s good in the face-off circle and is a very intelligent hockey player with a lot of speed and a lot of skill.”
The interesting situation with Rask is it’s still unknown where he will be playing next season. The European-based skater is not under contract for next season and said he is keeping his options open should he decide to play in North America and perhaps play for American Hockey League’s (AHL) Charlotte Checkers. North American skaters cannot play in the AHL until they are 20, but Rask has the option of starting with the Hurricanes organization immediately.
The 6’0 skater told the media after being drafted that he may chose to sign a contract in the Swedish Elite League. If that occurs, the Hurricanes said they would have no hard feelings. Rask is planning on attending the rookie camp in July and team camp in September in an attempt to make the team straight out of junior hockey.
“You don’t want to say we stole him, but we were pretty pleased he was there for us in the second round,” said MacDonald.
The doors are wide open with the Canes second round pick.
The Hurricanes selected defenseman Keegan Lowe with the 73rd overall selection. Lowe played last season in the Western Hockey League (WHL) with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He scored two goals, earned 22 assists and added 123 penalty minutes in 71 games. The 123 PIM shows the Hurricanes that he can be chippy when he needs to be.
Most importantly, he finished the season with a plus-33 rating so it’s nice to see the Canes draft a player who is used to producing on the rink. Two seasons ago, Lowe posted a minus-16 rating so that’s a drastic improvement in one season.
Lowe says he watches Detroit’s Nick Lidstrom and Nashville’s Shea Weber and tries to model aspects of his game to theirs. He likes to take control in the defensive zone and find ways to get the puck through traffic and to the net.
Lowe was a member of the Team USA U-18 squad that finished in second place to Canada in 2010. Lowe is the son of six-time Stanley Cup Champion and Edmonton’s President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe. Five years ago, Keegan and his dad watched the Hurricanes beat their beloved Oilers for the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. And now, Keegan will be playing for the Hurricanes. Do I smell the Oilers seeking a trade?
Even if a trade doesn’t happen, his father will always be there for him.
“Just like most hockey players, my dad is my mentor,” Keegan said. “Sometimes we’ll watch video together online and talk about my skill work or positional work.”
His dad told the media that he doesn’t want to tamper too much with Keegan’s development. That’s what the professional coaches are for. But it was difficult for Kevin to pass on his own son a few times in the opening rounds. Kevin said, “he (Keegan) has everything we’re looking for. He has hockey sense, he’s competitive, and he can play both ways. I think he’s a pretty well-rounded player.”
Both young men are eager to start their next chapter with the Hurricanes.