The fifth overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft is going to get his opportunity to play real NHL games as the Carolina Hurricanes have decided to keep Noah Hanifin on the main roster for the start of the regular season.
Hanifin tallied just one assist during preseason play, but clearly did enough to earn a spot on the final roster. During the preseason, the 18-year old averaged nearly 22 minutes per game, and often found himself playing on both the powerplay and penalty killing units.
In order to keep Hanifin on the roster, the Hurricanes sent defenseman Hadyn Fleury back to the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. Fleury was Carolina’s seventh overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, and put up 28 points in 63 games for Red Deer last season.
Hanifin is expected to start the season on the Hurricanes’ third defensive pairing, but could easily find himself higher on the chart with a quick start. It really becomes a win-win scenario for Carolina, who can always send Hanifin to Charlotte should he get off to a poor start to develop more.
With Fleury, however, it would’ve been more of a sticky situation due to the CHL/NHL prospect rules. Should he have been kept on the roster and played more than nine games, a year of his contract would’ve been burned. With Hanifin, a year was going to be burned no matter what, making it pretty obvious to keep him over the 19-year old Rebel.