When the Hurricanes traded their first round pick to Pittsburgh for Jordan Staal, I was a little worried that they left a lot of talent on the board but they were lucky in the second round when forward Phil Di Giuseppe fell to them. Di Giuseppe (or PdG for short) was projected to be a late-first round pick by some scouts but he fell to the Hurricanes in the second round of his year’s draft. Being only 18 years old, PdG has a long road ahead of him before he is in the NHL but he’s already received a lot of praise from college hockey fans and scouts. He was ranked as one of the top college hockey prospects in this year’s draft and will be playing his sophomore season at the University of Michigan this fall, so the Hurricanes will have to wait a couple years before they know what they have in him, but the one thing that most would agree on with PdG is that he has a lot of NHL-potential.
This was the main reason I ranked him relatively high on the list compared to some of the other team’s prospects despite him being younger than the rest. Di Giuseppe was a very impressive goal-scorer and playmaker during his time in the OJHL and he’s been able to carry it over to the college ranks at the University of Michigan. He tallied only 26 points in 40 games but those are not bad numbers for a freshman who did not start the year on a scoring line. He was pretty effective in a checking role for the Wolverines last season and still has a lot of untapped offensive potential so the future is bright for PdG.
If you look at scouting reports for PdG on the Internet, you’ll notice that his supposed ceiling is all over the board. Some say that he will probably end up on a checking line in the future while others say that he could be a top-six “power forward” in a few years. The most promising thing about these reports is that most seem to believe that he has a decent future in the NHL and those are exactly the types of players you want to draft, so I think the Hurricanes landed themselves a nice piece with him. Although, it has been said that the defensive part of his game is still a work in progress so that kind of limits what he can do on a checking line if his offense doesn’t come around.
PdG’s sophomore season will tell us more about his potential and what he will be in the future since he’s likely going to be used in a bigger role in a very tough conference. Even then it still might take some time before we know what we have in him because he hasn’t even turned 20 yet and may still need to work out some of the kinks in his game. If he continues to improve and start to show more of his offensive talent then he could be contributing in the NHL sooner rather than later, even if it’s just in a bottom-six role. This will all depend on how he performs in his sophomore year, though. He showed off his great play-making skills in his freshman year and was very good on the forecheck, but there are still areas which he needs to work on, especially on defense.
The Hurricanes may not have a future star in PdG but they at least have a player with a good chance at making it in the NHL. That factor alone puts him a little higher on the list than some of the team’s other prospects. The size and offensive potential is there but he just needs to work out some of the holes in his game before he takes the next step. Thankfully, he is only 18 so there is plenty of time for him to improve and he could be one of Carolina’s better younger players within a few years.