Carolina coach Bill Peters explained his decision as just wanting to “freshen him up, that’s all it is.”
Hanifin was the fifth overall pick in the 2015 draft. The 18-year-old is one of four players from that draft (and the only defenseman) still playing in the NHL, the others being Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, and Daniel Sprong.
McDavid and Eichel were always considered locks to stay up. Sprong was a surprise, but apparently has done enough to stick with the Penguins.
Hanifin has played eight games for Carolina, so the Hurricanes must decide soon whether to keep him or send him down to the AHL, a la Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen.
Hanifin has not looked out of place in the NHL. His possession stats are solid and his ice time has ranged from a low of 14:41 to a high of 20:30. He has two assists.
Hanifin could play his ninth game Thursday in Brooklyn. If he plays a 10th, his entry-level contract will officially kick in.