Carolina Hurricanes prospect Victor Rask ended at least some of the speculation about his future on Saturday by confirming his intention to play in North America next season, but there’s still some way to go.
Rask, an 18-year-old center selected by Carolina in the second round of this past June’s Entry Draft, entered the offseason with no shortage of options. In addition to staying in his domestic league, where he suited up for Leksand last season, he’s eligible to play in the NHL (should he prove himself worthy), in the AHL with Charlotte (unlike players drafted from the Canadian junior leagues, European-based draft picks may play in the AHL immediately) or in the Western Hockey League with the Calgary Hitmen, who selected him third overall in the Canadian Hockey League import draft.
By ruling out a return to his native Sweden, Rask, a highly-rated offensive player who could have gone much higher in the NHL draft if not for limited playing time as a result of a dispute with the Leksand organization last season, hasn’t completely narrowed the field, but it’s a start.
“Not knowing has been weird and I’ve been living out of a suitcase, but it’s good to have options,” he said.
In all likelihood, his choice to remain in North America will probably the last say he has in the matter. His preference would be to stay in the NHL with Carolina, but a glut of more advanced prospects knocking on the door ahead of him makes that somewhat unlikely. The most probable scenario has him playing in Calgary, where he visited and attended training camp earlier in the summer.
However, should the 6-foot-2, 194-pound Rask impress in camp, a jump straight to the AHL with the Checkers isn’t out of the question.
“We’ll have to wait and see how he does (at camp),” said Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford. “Wherever it is, we’d really like for him to be playing around 20 minutes a night to help with his development.”
As of now, he wouldn’t be slated for that kind of a role as a rookie with the Checkers, but as camp progresses, Rask, who started on a line with Checkers mainstays Nicolas Blanchard and Brett Sutter, could change some minds.
Rask’s compatriot Mattias Lindstrom, who was drafted by the Hurricanes in the third round of the 2009 draft, also faces some uncertainty. Rutherford said that it was possible that the left wing, who at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds is physically mature enough to play professionally in any league, could start the season with the Checkers. However, he did acknowledge that Lindstrom’s Swedish club team, Skelleftea, was interested in bringing him back for the last season of his contract.