Fleury returned to junior, won’t crack ‘Canes blueline this year

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For Hadyn Fleury it was close, but no cigar.

Fleury, Carolina’s first-round pick (seventh overall) at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, was sent packing from camp on Thursday and returned to his WHL team in Red Deer.

The second d-man off the board in June behind Florida’s Aaron Ekblad, Fleury was thought to have a decent chance of making the ‘Canes this year, especially with Carolina’s lack of depth on defense — and at 6-foot-3, 203 pounds, Fleury does possess the requisite size to compete in the NHL straight away.

That said, he’s still just 18 years old — won’t turn 19 until next July — and pretty inexperienced, having only played two full seasons in the Western League with the Rebels.

The ‘Canes also cut nine players aside from Fleury on Thursday, bringing their camp roster down to 25 players. On defense, eight skaters remain: Ron Hainsey, Tim Gleason, Andrej Sekera, Ryan Murphy, Brett Bellemore, Jay Harrison, Justin Faulk and John-Michael Liles.