Carolina Hurricanes President and General Manager Jim Rutherford identified Drayson Bowman and Riley Nash as the Checkers’ top two forward prospects during an interview with broadcaster Jason Shaya on Friday.
As part of the interview that was conducted during the second intermission of Charlotte’s 3-2 loss to Rockford (video above), Rutherford cited those two players as having an edge over teammates Zach Boychuk and Zac Dalpe, specifically. With the Hurricanes likely to recall at least one forward as the team resumes play following the NHL All-Star break on Tuesday, those two players could be good bets depending on positional need.
"I don't know if I want to say they're NHL ready, but I think that Nash and Bowman are ahead of the other two right now," said Rutherford. "The other two are really top prospects, without question, but in order to play at our level you really have to play consistent for 60 minutes, and that's what we're trying to do get these guys to do when we bring them up and send them back down - to give them a little bit of experience."
Bowman, 22 and in his third professional season, has 8 points (3g, 5a) in his last six games. The Hurricanes sent the left wing back to Charlotte on Jan. 7 following an 11-game stint in which he recorded 5 points (2g, 3a).
“It took me a couple of games to get over the disappointment (of being sent down), but I’m feeling good about my game,” said Bowman, who was scoreless in five games before going on his current offensive run.
“His attitude is good, and the biggest thing for me has been his skating,” said coach Jeff Daniels. “The message when he came down was to keep working, because that’s the only way to get back up.”
Nash, who made his NHL debut just prior to the Christmas break and likely would have earned another recall if not for an injury earlier this month, has posted 6 points (3g, 3a) in five games since the same-day trade of Jon Matsumoto and recall of Zac Dalpe elevated him to the No. 1 center position. Along with Bowman, he has been a key contributor on a power play that has converted 14 of its last 38 opportunities (36.8 percent).
“You just try to elevate your game and help out as much as possible and not add a lot of pressure on yourself to go out and score four or five goals every night,” said Nash.
The Hurricanes’ reassignment of Dalpe last week left at least one NHL position open, depending on the health of Jerome Samson, who missed the team’s last five games before the break, and Chad LaRose, who suffered a lower-body injury in the most recent game on Jan. 23.
In addition to his praise of Bowman and Nash, Rutherford also touched on the Checkers' playoff chances, the state of the Hurricanes and the Calder Trophy chances of defenseman Justin Faulk.