With only four picks in this year's draft after trading their second rounder to Buffalo for Andrej Sekera, the Hurricanes had to make their remaining three picks count. Unfortunately, it's tough to tell what these players will amount to since they are years away from making the NHL, so the most you can do is go with safe selections or players who fill an organizational need. The Hurricanes accomplished both by using their third round pick on defenseman Brett Pesce.
Despite turning 18 in November, Pesce already has a lot of experience under his belt playing big minutes on the University of New Hampshire's defense corps in his freshman year. It's rare for a freshman to play such a big role and Pesce was able to do just that last year on a team that was one game away from the Frozen Four. This speaks volumes about his development as a defensive defenseman and could mean he is closer to being ready for the NHL than others of his age. Those who follow college hockey have had nothing but good things to say about his game.
Pesce is a mobile, stay-at-home defenseman who is said to play a very mature game for his age. I mentioned earlier that he played big minutes for New Hampshire last year and his solid fundamental game was a big reason for that. SB Nation, Future Considerations, McKeen's Hockey and The Hockey Prospect all raved about Pesce's ability to take space away from opposing forwards by having strong gap control and making solid reads on opposing forwards. All three scouting reports also mention that he isn't a overly physical player and excels more at taking away passing lanes and keeping forwards to the outside. They also say that he is capable of moving the puck & making breakout passes but he probably won't be an effective offensive player from the looks of it.
The New York Hockey Journal had a great article on Pesce a few months ago that discussed how advanced his game was for a player his age and included a few quotes from his coach, Dick Umile. Umile said that Pesce "played like a veteran" from the day he came in and is an easy player to coach because of ho well he knows the game. That along with his impressive play makes him a very attractable pick for NHL clubs and I think the Hurricanes got themselves a nice find in the third round.
Basically, Pesce projects to be a shutdown defenseman at the NHL level but still needs quite a bit of work before he is ready for that. He is certainly on the right track after how well he played in his freshman year, though and I'm excited to see what the future holds for him. Supposedly he was on some scouts radar before this year but his play in his freshman season really helped put his name out there. All in all, Pesce looks like a solid pick for the Canes. You can never have too many young defensemen in your system and adding a guy with terrific hockey sense is also a plus.