This post is a part of Hurricanes day at PHT…
The Carolina Hurricanes have built an impressive stockpile of young defensemen, arguably the best in the NHL.
Looking at their current NHL roster there isn’t one defensemen under contract for this season that is over the age of 26, while three of their best — and youngest — are all signed to long-term deals. Not only are they young, they are also already really, really good and just need a more stable goaltending situation behind them to help the Hurricanes take a big leap forward this season.
For as good and promising as that group already is, there is another young player in the pipeline that hasn’t even had a chance to make an impact yet in 2014 first-round pick (No. 7 overall) Haydn Fleury.
The 21-year-old Fleury is coming off of his first year of pro hockey, spending the 2016-17 season with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. Other than missing part of the season due to injury it was mostly a successful pro debut for the young rearguard, appearing in 69 games and scoring seven goals to go with 19 assists and showing considerable improvement down the stretch following a slow start.
The logjam of young defensemen already in Carolina is going to make it tough for Fleury to crack the lineup, but the No. 6 spot on the blue line does seem to be up for grabs between him and Klas Dahlbeck. Even if he doesn’t grab that spot at the start of the season it seems reasonable to assume that at some point during the season — whether it be due to injury, a trade, or just a lack of performance from somebody else — that he is going to make his NHL debut.
When he does it will be just another promising young player added to a defensive core that already boasts Justin Faulk, Noah Hanifin, Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce. Given the contracts Faulk, Slavin and Pesce are signed to, and the fact Hanifin and Fleury are still on their entry level deals it gives the Hurricanes a ton of flexibility when it comes to constructing their roster. Any of them would be attractive pieces in trade talks to make improvements elsewhere, or they can be the foundation of the defense — and the team itself — for the next six or seven years for a remarkably affordable price.
Marc-Andre Fleury celebrated his day with the Stanley Cup on Saturday.
His time in Pittsburgh has already come to an official end, having been selected by Vegas in the expansion draft. He’s already said ‘thank-you’ to the fans of Pittsburgh, but the events of this weekend, in his mind it seems, close the chapter for good on this stage of his career.
“I think this was my last day as a Penguin, I would say,” Fleury told NHL.com.
“I have members of my family who had their Penguins hats who told me this was the last time those will come out. So I think after today, I can turn the page and get ready for Vegas.”
The former first overall pick captured three Stanley Cup rings with the Penguins. While he wasn’t the No. 1 goalie last year — or in the 2017 final, either — he played a significant role in Pittsburgh’s success through the first half of this year’s playoff before Matt Murray returned from injury.
He earned praise for how he handled the situation toward the end in Pittsburgh. After the final, reports surfaced he had agreed to waive his no-movement clause, which left him exposed in the expansion draft.
At age 32, he still has two more years left on his current contract, with an annual cap hit of $5.75 million. He’ll no doubt garner plenty of attention this upcoming season as the experienced starter on the Golden Knights’ roster.
But Saturday was for Fleury to enjoy one last championship won with the Penguins.
–The Vegas Golden Knights haven’t played a game yet, but it seems pretty clear that some players are having a good time in their new city. Marc-Andre Fleury, who came over from the Penguins, reenacted some fun scenes from “The Hangover” movie. (NHL.com)
–With free agency only a day away, The Hockey News posted their final rankings for their top 30 free agents in 2017. Kevin Shattenkirk remains at the top of the list with Alex Radulov and Karl Alzner right behind him. (The Hockey News)
–Every team would like to spend a bit of money in free agency, but some squads are in tougher financial situations than others. The Score breaks down three teams that will go into free agency with some salary cap limitations. Even though they’ve traded Artemi Panarin and Niklas Hjalmarsson, The Chicago Blackhawks won’t be able to spend as freely as they’d like. Washington and Minnesota are in the same boat. (The Score)
–Ken Holland has already said that he’s not interested in going through a rebuild, which means that the Red Wings could add a veteran or two when free agency opens on Saturday. The Detroit Free Press looks at five free agents that could make sense for Detroit. Veterans Dan Girardi, Ron Hainsey and Brian Campbell could be good fits. (Detroit Free Press)
–Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the P.K. Subban for Shea Weber trade. Subban may not have been a natural fit for the Preds and that market, but he learned how to adapt and become an influential part of the team. “I think that when you come into a team, you have to find your place. You have to find where your role is, and how you’re going to help the team and affect the team in a positive way.” (The Tenneassean)
–How can you not love Jaromir Jagr?
–Sean McIndoe provides a list of 12 teams that are facing a high amount of pressure this off-season. The Canadiens still need a center, the Caps need something to get over the hump and the Avs need to shake things up after having one of the worst seasons in recent history. (Sportsnet)
–Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has moved on from the Pittsburgh Penguins, but it’s pretty clear that he won’t forget his years there. Fleury mentioned all of his best memories in a “thank you” letter to the people of Pittsburgh. “So thank you, fans. I wish I could put into words how much of an impact your support has made on me and my family. We have become Pittsburghers.” (The Players’ Tribune)
–The Hockey News handed out some of their own (made up) awards for the 2016-17 season. The Mario Lemieux Award, which is given to the best player in the NHL, went to Edmonton’s Connor McDavid. The Wayne Gretzky Award, given to the league’s most valuable player, also went to McDavid. (The Hockey News)
—Scott Darling has moved from Chicago to Carolina this off-season. As of right now, he doesn’t have his old no. 33, but he’s working on getting it from forward Derek Ryan. The goalie even tried having open negotiations on Twitter. In the end, they were able to get something done. (BarDown)
–The Boston Bruins didn’t make a ton of noise during the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, as they just seemed to fly under the radar. Beat reporter Joe Haggerty handed out draft grades for each of the team’s selections. First-rounder Urho Vaakenainen only fetched a B-minus. (CSN New England)
–Teemu Selanne found out he was going to the Hockey Hall of Fame yesterday. His incredible career got going with a legendary rookie season that saw him score 76 goals and 132 points. Those are numbers we’ll probably never see again. (NHL.com)
On this date in 2003, Marc-Andre Fleury went first overall to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL Entry Draft. Today, it does in fact appear, based on translated reports, that the popular veteran goaltender is heading to Vegas in the expansion draft.
Fleury has been, for quite some time now, mentioned as a possible option in net for the Vegas Golden Knights.
According to Pierre LeBrun of TSN, it also looks like the Penguins are sending a draft pick to the Golden Knights — a deal made to persuade George McPhee to take Fleury.
Now 32 years old, Fleury had a no-movement clause in his contract, but with Matt Murray taking over the No. 1 goaltending duties in Pittsburgh, Fleury decided to waive, making him available in the expansion draft.
As it stands right now, the Penguins now have about $15 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly, with 12 players on expiring contracts. That includes pending restricted free agents Conor Sheary, Brian Dumoulin and Justin Schultz. They also have a number of pending unrestricted free agents, like Nick Bonino, Trevor Daley, Chris Kunitz and possibly Ron Hainsey.
Pittsburgh’s general manager Jim Rutherford has urged the club’s pending UFAs to test the free agent market, but kept the door open to those who may want to return.
Fleury has become a fan-favorite in Pittsburgh, and he recently got the chance to say goodbye to Penguins fans.