Hurricanes’ Faulk: Another Team’s Treasure

After speculation began several years ago, the Carolina Hurricanes have finally pulled the trigger on trading defenseman Justin Faulk. The Hurricanes press release said, “The team has acquired defenseman Joel Edmundson, forward Dominik Bokk and the Blues’ seventh-round selection in the 2021 NHL Draft from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for defenseman Justin Faulk and Carolina’s fifth-round selection in the 2020 NHL Draft.”

Part of the Hurricanes’ fanbase is glad to see Faulk go, and some are singing the blues that the three-time All-Star is leaving. Sports is a “What have you done for me lately” kind of world, but his resume with the Hurricanes is one that should be remembered with respect. Has part of the fan base forgotten his work on the power-play? Remember 2015-16 where his first 12 goals of the season were power-play goals?

That is some pretty heady company he is named with in that tweet. Faulk was a treasure that the Hurricanes were not willing to continue to pay for, especially with his contract expiring at the end of the season. They knew that he would not be cheap, and for some reason did not want to make the investment.

Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said in a conference call with the media on Wednesday that Faulk had done everything they had asked of him, and that he was a big reason behind the team’s deep run in the playoffs last season. He has been a loyal Hurricane for sure, never complaining — at least publicly — about anything.

Justin Faulk, Patrice Bergeron
Former Carolina Hurricane Justin Faulk and Boston Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

When Faulk was paired with Jordan Staal as a team co-captain in the 2017-18 season, he did his best to accommodate the non-traditional arrangement then-coach Bill Peters had made. At the end of the season and that experiment, Faulk told me, “I think Jordan and I are comfortable with each other. I think obviously it’s a weird situation… I don’t think that’s taken away anything from us or changed our approach our day and how we carry ourselves in here.”

Faulk, the Blues’ Treasure

The Blues immediately signed Faulk to a seven-year, $45.5 million extension. The old saying about one man’s junk is another man’s treasure is vividly on display in this transaction. For whatever reason, the Hurricanes have been itching to trade him for some time, and the Blues scooped him up and paid him exceedingly well.

In a statement Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said, “We are excited to add Justin to our core group for the next eight years. He’s a Top-4 defenseman who averages over 23 minutes a game and we are confident he will be a strong addition to our club.” Sure sounds like they are treasuring a player the Hurricanes wanted to get off of their roster.

Faulk in Retrospect

It is easy to remember that he had a couple of down seasons, mostly 2016-17 and 2017-18. Many Hurricanes fans have tunnel vision when it comes to Faulk and called for his ousting ever since. But he has meant so much more to this team than a couple of down seasons.

Justin Faulk Hurricanes
Justin Faulk (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

At 27, Faulk has played his entire career with the Hurricanes. Drafted 37th overall in the second round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, he wasted no time and immediately claimed a spot with the team in the 2011-12 season. In his career, Faulk has scored 85 goals and 173 assists.

It is really difficult to see why fans and even management were so determined to trade Faulk, unless of course the money is considered. He was in the last year of his contract and the team likely felt that they did not want to hang north of $40 million around their neck. That is understandable, but the Blues saw the value in having him, which is good for his long-term future in the NHL.

A friend texted me right after the news of Faulk’s trade broke and said, “Salary dump.” That appears to be correct. It’s a shame really that the two sides could not come to mutually favorable terms. He was a leader with or without a letter on his sweater, and he will be missed.