The season for testing young prospects is upon us. The Carolina Hurricanes have brought up Valentin Zykov from their AHL team for the first time in his career. With the Hurricanes all but eliminated from post season contention after losing to the Colorado Avalanche and falling more than 10 points out of the race, they’ve decided to give one of their promising young forwards a chance at the NHL.
Zykov is the prospect the Hurricanes acquired last season when they dealt Kris Versteeg to the Los Angeles Kings at the trade deadline. Since being drafted 37th overall in the 2013 draft, the Russian winger has developed into a solid AHL player capable of scoring goals and leaning on people physically. While he doesn’t have the biggest frame, he often outworks players in board battles and can create offensive chances all by himself.
The 21-year old forward isn’t expected to step in and contribute in Carolina’s top six right away, but does look like he will be able to make an impact in some way as soon as next season. If the Hurricanes are serious about his development, giving him a look for the rest of the NHL season instead of wallowing on a struggling Charlotte Checkers team will give them a chance to see how close he is to being ready for the big-time.
We’ll likely see several callups of this nature over the coming weeks, as teams both test their prospects and reward AHL veterans with a few games (and paid days) on an NHL roster. For the Hurricanes, seeing what they have in the pipeline is about all they have left this season barring a miraculous run over the last 19 games.