Lethbridge Hurricanes defenceman Logan McCutcheon knows that at five foot nine, he’s going to have to work especially hard to make his dream of playing in the NHL come true.
But this week, the 17-year-old got one step closer to that dream as he — and teammates Yegor Klavdiev and Peter Repcik — was ranked by NHL Central Scouting on the preliminary Players To Watch list ahead of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
“It’s just nice for them to be recognized,” said Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio. “It doesn’t mean a lot right now — when you get drafted by a team, that’s when it matters — but we have some guys that are playing hard, they’re doing the right things and getting noticed.”
All three Hurricanes players have been ranked as “C” skaters, and McCutcheon says while he plans to work at increasing his draft stock over the next few months, he was thrilled to be noticed.
“It’s definitely been a lifelong dream for me to try and make it to the NHL, go as far as I can, so just to be recognized is awesome,” McCutcheon said.
The diminutive defenceman had 11 points in 23 games for the ‘Canes in the shortened 2021 WHL season and then spent part of his summer at Hockey Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team Summer Development Camp.
Kisio says the invitation was well deserved and fast-tracked McCutcheon’s development.
“He’s come back, and he hasn’t skipped a beat. He’s a dependable defenceman that plays the right way, and obviously, his offensive side kind of speaks for itself.”
McCutcheon has two points through five games so far this season — including a goal in the Hurricanes’ home opener on Oct. 1 — and Kisio says he will get every opportunity to set new career high point totals.
“He’s going to play a lot of minutes, he’s going to play on our power play, he’s going to play on our penalty kill, he’s that good,” he said.
But McCutcheon knows he will also face some challenges at his size.
“I’m a smaller defenceman, but I can’t let it hold me back,” said the 17-year-old. “I just have to keep getting better, work hard, get stronger and see what happens.”
McCutcheon will look to follow in the footsteps of former Hurricanes defenceman — who also coincidentally wore the number two for the club — Calen Addison.
Addison is now playing in the AHL and last season got into a handful of NHL games with the Minnesota Wild.
“It’s definitely somebody that I look up to, to try and play like him,” McCutcheon said.
“Addison was here, and he did some great things for us, and he’s moved on and played some NHL games,” Kisio said.
“So as far as McCutcheon goes, looking at that and realizing that it doesn’t really matter how big you are, there’s an opportunity there, if you work hard enough and develop enough, you have a chance to play.”
Kisio says he expects a ton of development from McCutcheon through the rest of the 2021-22 WHL season as well as improvement from Klavdiev and Repcik — both in their first year with the club as European imports.
“It’s a tough transition. When you’re a European coming over and playing that North American game for the first time, there are some adjustments for sure, and we understand that,” Kisio said. “We think they’re just going to get better and better as the year goes along.”
The Hurricanes hit the road this week and are set to head to Red Deer on Friday night facing the Rebels at 7 p.m.