Apr 1, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jay Harrison (44) carries the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Carolina Hurricanes won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Hurricanes 2013-14 Grades: Defensemen

Mar 29, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Andrej Sekera (4) attempts to shoot as Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Curtis McElhinney (31) defends during the first period at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

This is the third in a four-part series grading the Carolina Hurricanes players and there 2013-14 seasons. Today we’ll grade the Hurricanes’ defensemen. There will be seven graded today in total.

Note: Mike Komisarek will be included in tomorrow’s depth player grades.

Brett Bellemore
Stats: 64GP – 2g – 6a – 8p
Grade: B

At the start of the season, most had Bellemore still with the Checkers as their was a logjam on defense. Instead he became a valuable member in the top four. He played over 20 minutes a game sometimes and him and Ron Hainsey became a great pair. However, he dealt with some consistency issues, as is common with young players, and was not much of an offensive presence.

Justin Faulk
Stats: 76 GP – 5g – 27a – 32p
Grade: B+

Faulk took another step in his development this year, playing some of the best hockey of his career. Some of that has to do with the addition of Andrej Sekera, who helped create the best defensive pairing the club has seen in a long time. Faulk’s offensive numbers weren’t astounding, but his break-out passes are great and he’s more of a shutdown player. However, he also dealt with consistency issues, which keeps him away from an ‘A’ grade.

Ron Hainsey
Stats: 82GP – 4g – 11a – 15p
Grade: B+

Hainsey was brought in to replace Joni Pitkanen and he did just that, by playing a steady consistent game in all 82 games this season. He was a big part of why the defense was better than last year’s. He helped mentor Bellemore and logged a bunch of minutes. His offensive numbers could be better and some nights was not an impact player.

Jay Harrison
Stats: 68GP – 4g – 11a - 15p
Grade: C

After last season, I expected Harrison to cement himself as a great third-pairing defenseman with strong defensive capabilities and a good shot. Instead he looked like a player struggling to make an NHL roster, while Bellemore passed him on the depth chart. But he was the only Canes defenseman that was willing to shoot, which earns him a higher grade.

John-Michael Liles
Stats (With Canes): 35GP – 2g – 7a – 9p
Grade: C

Liles was brought in to help the powerplay, and while it isn’t his fault that the man advantage failed, there wasn’t much that he did to improve it. He is a great skater and knows what to do with the puck though. Having Liles on the roster was better than having Tim Gleason as Liles made more of an impact on most nights.

Ryan Murphy
Stats: 68GP – 2g – 10a – 12p
Grade: C+

Murphy’s season is more or less what I expected from the rookie. Some struggles and mistakes, but also flashes of what he can become. Some nights, he looked great, others, he made mistakes that cost the team. But that should be expected. The only thing that worries me, is unlike Elias Lindholm, Murphy did not look stronger at the end of the season, but things can change in the offseason.

Andrej Sekera
Stats: 74GP – 11g – 33a – 44p
Grade: A+

The best defenseman on the Hurricanes this season deserves nothing less than an ‘A.’ He looked like a number one defenseman most nights and put up 44 points, including 11 goals, much more than anyone expected at the start of the season. Him and Faulk were great together and the future looks bright with the two of them. But like Faulk, he had some nights of inconsistency that he needs to work on.

Tomorrow, we’ll grade the goaltenders and depth players.

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Tags: Andrej Sekera Carolina Hurricanes Jay Harrison Justin Faulk

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