The Frozen Four is currently ongoing and unfortunately, no Carolina prospect's respective teams made the finals. They had a couple of players go pretty far into the tournament, though and now that their season is over, we're going to take a look at how they've performed this season. With the exception of Danny Biega, all of Carolina's NCAA prospects are underclassmen who weren't playing big roles on the team, so their production might seem a little underwhelming, but keep in mind that these players are also very young. It's also worth noting that the Canes have signed two of these four players, the most recent being Wisconsin sophomore and 2013 fifth round pick Brendan Woods.
Woods' Wisconsin Badgers had themselves a very good season in winning the WCHA tournament before getting eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tourney by UMass-Lowell. The run that Wisconsin pulled off is pretty impressive after they started off the season on a rough note. The Badgers won 11 out of their last 15 games and Woods played an important role in their resurgence, recording nine points in Wisconsin's last 16 games. He also had two assists in the Badgers win over Minnesota-Duluth in the WCHA semi-finals. Woods' team had a great season, what about the rest of Carolina's NCAA pool?
|Phil Di Giuseppe||Michigan||40||9||19||28||110||32||2.75|
Di Giuseppe is the player here with the most potential and he had a bit of a disappointing season, along with most of Michigan's team. He spent most of the season on the first line and didn't put up terribly good boxcar numbers for his ice-time, although he finished fifth on his team in points. Di Giuseppe didn't have much trouble when it came to creating offense since he was third on the team in shots on goal and averaged nearly three shots per game, so poor shooting luck could have contributed to his low goal total. He is also only 19 years old and didn't sign his ELC, so next year should be something to look forward to for him. Di Giuseppe has good size and can be an effective winger at the next lf he continues to improve. His team actually made quite a resurgence in the final part of the season after playing so poorly for most of the year, making it all the way to the CCHA finals.
While Di Giuseppe will probably return to school next season, the other two players will be in the pros as both Danny Biega and Brendan Woods have signed their entry-level contracts. Biega did so a couple weeks ago and has already played one game with the Charlotte Checkers. Unfortunately, he was also injured in that game and hasn't played since. Biega also had a bit of an underwhelming senior year at Harvard after being a point-per-game player the year before. As a team, Harvard struggled a lot this season so Biega wasn't the only one who had a down year. He was also able to get a lot of shots on goal for a defenseman, ranking third on his team. Biega had a down season but still has a lot of talent, so I'm looking forward to what he can do with the Hurricanes in the coming years. He should be able to get some decent minutes on Charlotte's blue-line next season.
Woods also signed his entry-level deal and I was a little surprised that he did it so early because he was only a sophomore and is a very recent draft pick. He also spent most of this season as a 2nd and 3rd line center for the Badgers and would have had a chance to get more ice-time next year if he stayed in school. We will likely be seeing him in Charlotte next year, too as that team continues to be younger but I still think he is a ways away from being in the NHL. If he manages to get that far, he probably has a future as a bottom-six player more than anything else. Woods spent a fair bit of time on the Badgers penalty kill last year, has good defensive instincts and is very good at faceoffs, so he could parlay that skillset into a professional career in the right situation. Woods is also the son of Anaheim Ducks assistant head coach Bob Woods and you can never go wrong with drafting a coach's kid.
Not listed above is goaltender Collin Olson, who was the Hurricanes sixth round pick from this year. Olson played in only nine games this season, so there isn't much that is known about him other than his .901 save percentage in those games. Ohio State was in a battle for the post-season for most of the second-half of the year and they gave most of the starts to senior Brady Hjelle, who had one of the best save percentages in the CCHA so he likely wasn't going to steal the job away from him. He should be getting more starts for the Buckeyes next year and there will be more known about him then. Goaltenders in general take a long time to develop and the Hurricanes took two in their most recent draft, so it will probably be a long process with them.
With Woods and Biega signing, there aren't going to be many Carolina prospects in the college rankings next year but hopefully that changes in this coming draft. it's looking like the Canes will have a high pick, so that will be a chance to add some more young talent into the system.