Haydn Fleury is in, having signed a deal to keep him with the Carolina Hurricanes. He is a decent bottom pair defenseman. According to the Hurricanes’ press release, he signed a one-year, one-way contract for the 2019-20 season worth $850,000.
Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said in the release, “Haydn has taken strides during each of his three professional seasons in our organization.We’ve been encouraged by his development and our hope is that he becomes a fixture in our lineup.”
Fleury’s strides have not been on the offensive side of the ice as he logged one assist last season in 20 games with the Hurricanes.
Fleury Still Looking to Fit
He was drafted seventh overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Most folks thought he would develop into an NHL defenseman pretty seamlessly based on his overall characteristics and skills. In a June 2014 prospect profile, Ryan Pike wrote for The Hockey Writers , “In a nutshell, Haydn Fleury is a defenseman’s defenseman. He uses his size and speed well to keep defenders to the outside. His skating is good, but not great, but he’s a smart enough positional player that it hasn’t mattered. He’s physical, but not overly aggressive and his judgment – in terms of going for the body or pinching – is generally pretty good.”
All of those things were accurate at the time Fleury was drafted. Unfortunately, Pike was spot-on in another impression of Fleury:
His decision-making might need to be a bit quicker at the pro level against faster and bigger guys, and he could probably continue to develop a bit of a mean streak for the same reasons.
Fleury has been a bit-part player since being drafted. Most of the time he flies under the radar. But, two years ago it looked like he was finally getting a chance to fit on the roster. He was getting more ice time and showing up on non-scoring stats like hits. Unfortunately, he has not really improved since then, or done anything to secure a spot on the blue line.
His biggest need is confidence in his decision-making. Fleury has the hockey sense and experience, and he is a talented defenseman, but his lack of confidence overshadows his other skills.
The best thing he could do is go out and play all by himself, imagining he is confident and leading his team to win Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Then, during real games, he should play with that same imagined confidence. Playing the game as he knows how and not worry about trying to make the team would likely go a long way to helping him actually make the team.
Fleury is hanging on and needs to make the best of his chance this season, or he will likely be gone. It is time that he shows he can make good decisions quickly.
Fleury’s Job to Lose?
One thing to remember when considering Fleury’s chances at becoming a full-time defenseman for the Hurricanes, is that nothing happens in a vacuum in the NHL. The ‘Canes traded defenseman Calvin De Haan and forward Aleksi Saarela in exchange for defenseman Gustav Forsling and goaltender Anton Forsberg.
What may have been viewed as an open door for Fleury – and it may be in the end – came with a caveat that goes something like: “This guy Forsling wants your spot Mr. Fleury.”
Forsling signed a contract with the Hurricanes the same day as Fleury, albeit a two-way contract. Fleury’s is a one-way deal so he won’t be on the highway to Charlotte every other week like he may have been in the past. However, he best not take anything for granted. There are players like Forsling and Jake Bean who would love to take Fleury’s spot.