ALBANY, N.Y. — Most of the young players who will battle for spots on the Carolina Hurricanes' roster next season have had at least a cameo with the big team.
Fans have gotten to know Zach Boychuk and Drayson Bowman and Jamie McBain and many others over the past few seasons, and they'll all certainly be in the mix when training camp starts next fall.
Two other players with a shot to make the team out of training camp have profiles that are a little lower in the Triangle. Chris Terry, who was second in scoring for Albany (AHL), has yet to make an NHL appearance, while Zac Dalpe just turned pro this spring after two years at Ohio State.
The two wingers may be unfamiliar now, but that may not last long when next season begins. Even if they start the season in Charlotte, where Carolina's prospects will play next year, odds are both will play for the Hurricanes at some point - perhaps right from the start.
In years past, either might have ranked as the organization's top forward prospect; it's a measure of the depth the Hurricanes have now that they're almost lost among the long list of players competing for spots.
That list is so long, Terry was the only one of Albany's top contributors who didn't get a look in the NHL this season.
"A lot of guys got a shot, but coming into this year, I really didn't expect to be called up," Terry said. "I wanted to come here, prove myself as a complete player and really show Carolina my improvement as an overall player and push next year for a roster spot or hopefully lots of call-ups."
A fifth-round pick who developed into a big-time scorer in junior hockey, Terry made a successful jump to the AHL with 17 goals and 47 points, playing the point on the River Rats' second power-play unit.
In February, The Hockey News ranked Boychuk and Bowman as Carolina's top two prospects. Dalpe and Terry were the next two forwards on the list, with Dalpe fifth and Terry eighth - with a bullet.
"Chris Terry probably has the best vision and playmaking of all those four guys right there, just the way he sees the ice and is able to make plays and shoot the puck," Albany coach Jeff Daniels said.
But it wasn't his offense that really impressed Daniels. He put Terry on his checking line with Nick Dodge and Stephen Goertzen, and Terry stepped up his defensive game to meet the challenge.
Dalpe faces a similar challenge in adapting to the quicker pace and increased responsibilities of the pro game, but he hasn't missed a trick offensively. After scoring 13 and 21 goals in two seasons with the Buckeyes, he scored six goals in nine games with the River Rats to close out the regular season.
The Hurricanes considered taking Dalpe in the first round in 2008 and snapped him up in the second. Since then, the pace of his career has continued to quicken.
"You need to have some good-luck bounces," Dalpe said. "Everybody has those in their career. Instead of people who didn't believe in me, I've surrounded myself with good people. It definitely has picked up, but with no shortage of hard work at it."
The River Rats await a second-round opponent after a sweep in the first round of the AHL playoffs; their next series could begin as early as Friday depending on Wednesday night's results.
Terry and Dalpe will have to wait a little longer for their chance to play in the NHL, but it's coming - even if no one in the Triangle has seen them yet.