Projecting the Hurricanes’ Opening Day Defensive Pairings  

The Hurricanes used the seventh overall pick to draft big talented defensemen Haydn Fleury. Fleury just signed an entry-level contract with the team, but it is unlikely he will crack the NHL roster this year. Last season the Hurricanes were ranked 19th in the league allowing an average of 2.76 goals a game.  The team needs to make the playoffs this year, and they will need to improve their overall team defense. The teams signed some veteran defenders, and hope to mix them with their younger defensive prospects to bolster their defensive pairings this season. I took a crack at trying to decipher who would start the season and were in the lineup.

Justin Faulk – Andrej Sekera

Justin Faulk was a bright spot in a dull season for the Hurricanes. The 22 year-old forward contributed offensively with five goals and 27 assists, and was selected to represent the USA in the 2014 Winter Olympics. He was also arguably the most reliable defenseman for the Hurricanes last season, and expect big things from him this season. Andrej Sekera had the best offensive season for a defenseman on the team last year scoring 11 goals and adding 33 assists. The veteran also held his own in the defensive zone, and formed a great top defensive pairing with Faulk. This pairing will reign supreme again, and be the first pair when the season starts.

Ron Hainsey – John-Michael Liles

Ron Hainsey played in 82 games for the Hurricanes last year replacing the role of injured Joni Pitkanen. Hainsey is perfect for the defensive scheme for the Hurricanes, and will be a reliable defender for the team this season. Hainsey did the dirty work for the Hurricanes, and was second on the team with 124 blocked shots (Andrej Sekera lead the team with 127 blocked shots). John-Michael Liles can give the Hurricanes an offensive punch on their second line and could see a lot of time on the power play unit this season. These two should be the second pairing that they Hurricanes can put on the ice this year.

Chicago Blackhawks right wing Ben Smith (28) and Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Ron Hainsey (65)   - Photo Credit:  Andy Martin Jr
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Ben Smith (28) and Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Ron Hainsey (65) – Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr

Brent Bellemore- Jay Harrison

The third defensive pairing will see a lot of changes throughout the season but I think they should start the season with Brent Bellemore. Bellemore signed a two-way deal late in the offseason, but he is going to bring a big body to that third pairing that will match up against opposing teams physical forwards. Bellemore lead Hurricane defenders with 169 total hits last season. Jay Harrison was close behind with 141 hits on the season, and added 103 shots on goal.  Harrison brings veteran depth to the team, and hopefully take a lot of the younger defensemen under his wing.

Ryan Murphy and Tim Gleason will be fighting for time.

Ryan Murphy should see lots of playing time this year. The young forward got his first NHL experience last season and had a lot of bright spots. The young defenseman has a lot offensive talent, and he can add an extra punch to the teams power play unit this year. Tim Gleason will also add veteran depth to the team, and can fit into any of the three starting defensive lines. The Hurricanes have a good mix of young talent, and veteran leadership on defense. This should help the team battle its way into a playoff spot when the season starts in October.

(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)
(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)