Late round draft picks are always a bit of a shot in the dark because guys selected after the 4th round or so generally have a low chance of becoming full-time NHL-ers. There have been plenty of solid NHLers drafted in the later rounds, but a good chunk of them either become career AHLers or find a career in another league. That being said, turning a late round pick into an NHL player can go a long way, as that does a lot for a team's depth and payroll, so these picks are nothing to sleep on. It takes great scouting, excellent player development and a little bit of luck to it happen, though.
The Hurricanes haven't had a lot of luck in this area in recent seasons, unfortunately. They've been able to get good AHL players like Brett Bellemore, Nicolas Blanchard & Chris Terry in the late rounds, but Tyson Strachan is the only late round pick they've drafted since 2000 who had a decent NHL career. He didn't even play a game for the organization, which sort of backs up my earlier point of late-round picks being moved around a lot. I'm not sure how this compares to other clubs, but being able to get an NHL player certainly would help and the Canes are hoping they can get just that with this year's fifth round pick, Brent Pedersen of the Kitchener Rangers.
Most teams face the conundrum of drafting for need versus taking the best player available when they get past the first round and the Canes with the former option with this pick. Pedersen is a big, powerful winger who fills some organizational needs for Carolina. Being only 17 years old, Pedersen is a long ways away from making the NHL, but adding a sizable forward to your prospect pool is never a bad thing, I suppose.
Pedersen has some pedigree as the Kitchener Rangers first round selection in the OHL Draft, but his boxcar numbers haven't been too impressive in his first two seasons with the club. Part of that is probably due to him playing a bottom-six role and being used more as a grinder, which means he is getting less opportunities to score than others. I've also been told by someone who follows the Rangers closely that Pedersen was typically used in a limited role and should be relied on more next year. His point production doubled from his rookie season, so he is at least making progress.
HockeyProspect.com's scouting report on Pedersen has him pegged as a "power forward" who is strong on the puck and goes to the net to score most of his goals. They also say that his skating has improved, although it is still a work in progress, so that is promising to hear. Most "power forwards" who have trouble skating usually have trouble being impactful players in the NHL and hopefully Pedersen will continue to improve this part of his game. Although, they do mention that his foot speed is somewhat of a red flag.
We will know more about Pedersen next year because he will likely get more minutes but as of right now, he looks like a bit of a project. He is big, mean, powerful and can drop the gloves if needed but the skating issues are a concern and that might prevent him from taking that next step. The Hurricanes were in a position to gamble in the fifth round, though and they clearly like Pedersen's game, so it will be interesting to see what kind of player he turns into.