In the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, this marks the beginning of a monthly series where we will highlight particular members of the Carolina Hurricanes organization that have been particularly outstanding in a given 30-day period. Along with gushing about the guys who have scored the most or stopped the most pucks, we will also be showcasing the unsung heroes and the guys who have exceeded their own personal expectations.
The first installment will be covering the recently concluded training camp and preseason action. The regular season is almost upon us, and here we will take a look at the Hurricanes that have given us plenty to look forward to in the coming weeks and in the season as a whole.
Fleury Takes Massive Strides
It seems like ‘Canes defenseman Haydn Fleury has been battling for respect as an NHL defenseman for a while now, when in fact he just began his NHL career last season, playing 67 games with the Hurricanes and three with the Charlotte Checkers. This may have something to do, for better or worse, with his draft position, as then-Hurricanes GM Ron Francis took him seventh overall in 2014 ahead of, notably, William Nylander, Nikolaj Ehlers, and David Pastrnak. There were—and still are—high expectations placed on the 22-year-old Saskatchewan native, and he seems to be beginning to live up to them to an extent.
Coming into camp, it appeared that Trevor van Riemsdyk, fresh off a contract extension, would be the one to claim the six-spot on defense, but it appears that it is Fleury that has earned himself into an opening night starting position or will at least slot into the lineup in the near future. He has done so largely by simplifying his game, cutting down on careless errors and over-handling the puck. He has also leaned his body down over the offseason, looking to get faster. Fleury now looks fairly stout defensively and can even pitch in on the other side of the puck well enough as well. He looks more like an NHL defenseman now than he did even six months ago.
Fleury still has much to prove, but his showing at camp this year was certainly a step in the right direction.
Svechnikov Firing On All Cylinders
The hype surrounding Andrei Svechnikov on Hurricanes Twitter and among the fan base in general is indicative of how exciting the Russian winger looks when he’s out on the ice with his Hurricanes teammates. He’s certainly justified his second overall draft pick status in not only his tremendous skill, but also his unbelievable compete level.
Svechnikov did nothing but battle during his preseason appearances. He was easily one of the most noticeable Hurricanes on the ice each game, throwing his body and using his skill to beat out his opponents. His aggressiveness helped him get into some grade-A opportunities, but it also saw him commit a number of needless penalties. At the end of the day, however, it appears that fans and management like how he seems unafraid to make mistakes.
He’s already super-mature physically, he’s a great skater, he’s got a great shot and he’s a real complete player. – Julien Gauthier
Svech has come into Raleigh and captured a roster spot, as advertised. Only time will tell what he will do with it, but there is nothing but excitement when it comes to anticipating what he can do at the NHL level. He has already found decent chemistry with guys like Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas, so it is doubly as exciting to see what Svech can do with those guys.
Don’t Forget Foegele
It’s unfortunate how Warren Foegele often flies under the radar in the conversation of young Hurricanes forwards, but the quality of his performance at camp cannot be overstated (from ‘Foegele makes team as Carolina Hurricanes send right message,’ The News & Observer – Sept. 29, 2018). Foegele, like Michal Cajkovsky before him, has proven the validity of head coach Rod Brind’Amour’s message that his players will earn their opportunities, and he has delivered in an exceptional way.
Foegele is quickly becoming a fan favorite because he not only has terrific hockey sense, but I’d say he works just as hard—if not harder—than any other Hurricane on the roster. He’s legitimately the embodiment of Brind’Amour and who he was as a player and is as a coach, which is the chief reason he will be in the lineup on opening night.
Of the young guys and Checkers graduates that have made the roster to start the 2018-19 campaign, Foegele is one who could easily go the full 82. His passion that manifests itself into a chippy, gritty playing style is exactly what this ‘Canes squad needs more of, not to mention he’s still at a goal-per-game in the NHL.
The preseason was honestly a treat to watch, but now we’re playing for real. Hopefully, for the Hurricanes, what we’ve seen so far is only the beginning.