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The Carolina Hurricanes went into the second day of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft with a lot of work to do — and a lot of means with which to do it.
The Canes bypassed the opening round Friday, trading their first-round pick — No. 27 — to the Nashville Predators for a pair of second-round choices. That gave the Canes 11 total picks to use going into Saturday — including four in the second round — and a full workload for general manager Don Waddell and his staff, who would use some of the 11 picks to trade down and add even more.
With their initial second-rounder Saturday, No. 40 overall, the Canes selected another D-man, Scott Morrow of Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep.
A right-shot defenseman, Morrow has good size at 6-2 and 195 pounds, with an ability to join the rush and with decent offensive skills. He’s committed to playing college hockey at UMass and was ranked 39th among North America skaters by NHL Central Scouting.
“I think it all starts with me being a good skater and I have a lot of skill with the puck,” Morrow said Saturday on a media call. “I try to be offensive, but I think I’m a 200-foot player and I play to win. I think that’s what I’ll bring to the Carolina Hurricanes.
“I can contribute on both ends of the ice. I can move the puck, I can run the power play, I can defend on the penalty kill, I can play in any situation.”
The Canes followed that up at No. 44 — after taking a lengthy timeout — by taking another defender, Aleksi Heimosalmi of Finland.
Heimosalmi is a 5-foot-11, 170-pound right-hand shot defenseman who observers believe was the best defender at last year’s U-18 World Championships. A slick puck mover, he’s another in a trend of the Canes going back to the Finnish well, where the team has had a measure of success, most notably with forward Sebastian Aho, and drafted other Finns. Heimosalmi, the 26th-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting, said on a media call.
And the Canes stuck with the Finnish theme at No. 51, selecting right winger Ville Koivunen out of Karpat, Finland. The 6-foot, 168-pound forward scored 23 goals and added 26 assists for the Karpat junior team in 2020-21 in just 38 games played. At the 2021 U-18 World Championship, he had four goals and six assists in seven games.
Asked about the Canes’ preference for drafting Finns, Koivunen said, “I think that’s a really big thing, think that’s a good thing,”
After another lengthy pause, Carolina traded their final second-round pick to Los Angeles for Pick No. 72 overall (third round) and Pick 109 (fourth round). In the third round came another trade with Nashville — the No. 72 choice for Nos. 83 and 147.
The Canes used the 83rd pick, their first in the third round, on a goalie — Patrik Hamrla of the Czech Republic who has what has become more prototypical size for “new age” goalies at 6-3 and 194 pounds. Scouting reports say Hamrla, who played in the Czech Extraliga in 2020-21, also handles the puck well when leaving the net, which would be a plus.
Meanwhile, Friday night marked the first time since 2012 that the Canes did not use their first-round pick. In 2012, Carolina traded for Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and soon signed him to a 10-year extension. The big trade overshadowed the Canes’ picks on the second day of the draft in Pittsburgh, but they ended up picking forward Brock McGinn in the second round and defenseman Jaccob Slavin in the fourth.
The Hurricanes kicked off Friday night’s frenzy with a trade, this one perhaps more expected than that which dealt goalie Alex Nedeljkovic to Detroit on Thursday.
This time, the Canes shipped away young defender Jake Bean to Columbus. The return was a second-round pick in this year’s NHL Draft, No. 44 overall.
Bean was the last first-round draft pick from the Ron Francis era since 2012 remaining on the team. He only drew in to 42 regular season games this year, registering one goal and 11 assists. In the playoffs, Bean played in 11 games with a goal and four penalty minutes. He spent 59 games of 2019-20 with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL after making his NHL debut the season prior, in 2018-19.
The Bean-to-Columbus trade was part of a series of bigger moves for the Jackets, who also packaged star defender Seth Jones, the last pick of this year’s first round and a sixth-round pick for Adam Boqvist, the 12th overall pick Friday , a first in 2022 and that second-rounder, 44th overall.
Friday was, overall, a big day for trades around the league. The biggest of all of them was a five-player, nine-asset trade between Vancouver and Arizona. The Coyotes sent captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson and forward Conor Garland to the Canucks. In return, Vancouver sent forwards Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle and Antoine Roussel and a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) in the 2021 NHL Draft, a second-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft and a seventh-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft to the Coyotes.
Earlier in the day, the St. Louis Blues acquired forward Pavel Buchnevich from the New York Rangers in exchange for forward Sammy Blais and a second-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, and the Philadelphia Flyers acquired Rasmus Ristolainen in exchange for defenseman Robert Hagg, 2021 first-round draft pick and 2023 second-round draft pick.