Hurricanes trade 1st round pick, prepare for busy Day 2 at NHL Draft

The Hurricanes traded their first round pick, 27th overall, on Friday for picks No. 24 and 50 in the second round at the NHL Draft in Las Vegas. (Cory Lavalette / North State Journal)

LAS VEGAS — Rumors swirled of the Hurricanes trading Martin Necas before Friday’s first round of the NHL Draft inside Sphere in Las Vegas, perhaps even landing a lottery pick as part of a return.

But two hours into Round 1, the lottery picks were taken and Necas was still with Carolina.

So when the Hurricanes finally went on the clock with the 27th overall pick, they finally pulled the trigger.

It just wasn’t the trade anyone eagerly anticipated.

For the third time in four years, Carolina didn’t make a pick in Round 1 after trading its first round pick to Chicago in exchange for two second round picks, Nos. 34 and 50. The Hurricanes now have three picks in Round 2 — theirs is No. 60 — and 10 selections overall on  Day 2.

The Blackhawks used the 27th pick to select forward Marek Vanacker.

The Hurricanes made a similar move in 2021, trading the 26th overall pick to the Predators (who drafted Zachary L’Heureux) for the 40th and 44th picks. They selected two defensemen, Scott Morrow and Aleksi Heimosalmi — two of the team’s top defensive prospects. They then used their pick at No. 51 to choose Ville Koivunen, the Finnish forward who was the centerpiece of their acquisition of Jake Guentzel — who Carolina is still trying to sign to a contract extension — at this past season’s trade deadline.

While Friday didn’t wind up as busy as some expected, Day 2 of the draft will certainly be rapid fire for Carolina. On top of picking three times in Round 2, the Hurricanes have all of their selections in the final five rounds (92, 124, 156, 188, 220) along with two extra sixth round picks (168, 184) previously acquired in trades.

There are five players who were ranked in the top 32 of my composite draft list still on the board for Day 2: 24. Igor Chernyshov, LW; 25. Julius Miettinen, C;  26. Ryder Ritchie, RW; 27. Charlie Elick, D; and 30. Leo Sahlin Wallenius, D.

And there is still the business of what to do with Necas. Carolina could still swing a player-for-player trade that involves one or more of their wealth of second day picks or continue into the offseason and see if any offers intrigue them.