The Carolina Hurricanes selected Haydn Fleury with the #7 pick in the 2014 NHL draft. The ‘Canes are getting familiar with early first round picks and are hoping to reap the benefits of adding essential top prospects. They need more strong blue-liners to fill in around budding star Justin Faulk, and Fleury has the potential to become a prominent piece next to Faulk. Having a growing talented defenseman like Fleury in the system should allow them to draft by talent instead of positional need this draft.
One Game in Charlotte
Fleury received an opportunity to gain experience in the AHL when his statistically disappointing season with the Red Deer Rebels ended in April. Fleury’s point totals dropped from 46-points in 2013-2014 to 28-points in 2014-2015. Despite the drops in stats, Fleury received praise from his associate coach at Red Deer who compared him to Shea Weber.
Fleury fits the build with a big stature standing at 6’3 with an added 200 pounds. The talented prospect got the opportunity to play in the AHL when management asked if he wanted to finish the season with the Charlotte Checkers. Fleury jumped at the opportunity to play more hockey, and it helped the young defensive prospect learn more about what it is like playing outside of the WHL.
He left his first and only game because of injury. He scored a goal in that lone experience while on a power play. Seeing the prized prospect score a goal is exciting, but he still has more to show before the ‘Canes should bring him up to the NHL level. There is still an opportunity to show how he has grown as a hockey player in the upcoming preseason.
Opportunity and doing the smart thing
The Hurricanes shouldn’t think they need to rush Fleury along. Bringing up prospects to fast and not giving them the ability to grow is a bad idea. He has the tools to become a high level talent in the NHL, but he needs to grow more of his game without being rushed. They are slowly progressing as a team, and have yet to have any success. They need to find their identity on the ice before they can start plugging in young players that are unproven at the NHL level.
When Fleury does make the jump to the NHL he would benefit from having a veteran defenseman on his line. Justin Faulk’s abilities grew with Andrej Sekera next to him, and it helped move a long Faulk’s growth as a player while Sekera still wore a storm sweater. Finding a steady veteran defenseman would benefit Fleury’s development when he makes the NHL roster.
What Fleury allows the ‘Canes
Having a prospect like Fleury should allow management to go after the best offensive option in this years draft at the fifth pick. Bringing in a forward like Mitch Marner could help the ‘Canes build that future offense. Noah Hanifin would be the exception to that. If Marner drops he would solidify the blue-line with already established Justin Faulk, and fellow lottery pick Fleury. Unless Noah Hanifin falls to the fifth spot the best available forward needs to be drafted.
Hurricanes fans seem to be split when it comes to what direction the team needs to take. Should they focus on offense or defense? One side argues that the team is going in a defensive strategy for their team. The other side wants them to focus more on putting a strong offense on the ice. In reality the team needs help everywhere. They have decent prospects on both defense and offense which should allow them to pick the best available player in this years draft. Noah Hanifin will most likely be gone when the pick, and the team shouldn’t reach on a defensive prospect just to add more defense. The best option will be a forward, and that is who the team should pick. Haydn Fleury gives them that option. Dreams of Hanifin, Fleury, and Faulk sound nice, but the four teams ahead in the draft might make that dream difficult.
Philip is a Sports Journalist covering the Pittsburgh Penguins. Duquesne University Journalism Grad 2013.