Feb 27, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA;Carolina Hurricanes defensemanAndrej Sekera
(4) and Dallas Stars left wingRyan Garbutt
(16) during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeated the Hurricanes 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
1st Pairing: Andrej Sekera
2nd Pairing: Ron Hainsey
3rd Pairing: John-Michael Liles
Missed the Cut: Michal Jordan, Haydn Fleury
The Carolina Hurricanes defense was great at times last season, but at other times, I was left astonished by how incapable they were.
Andrej Sekera had a huge breakout season last season, and it will be very difficult for him to match his numbers from last year, but if he can, he will be a true top-pairing defender and a possible Norris Trophy contender.
Sekera formed a good top pairing last year with Justin Faulk. If they can improve on last year and stay healthy, there will be nothing to worry about in regards to the top-two on defense.
Ron Hainsey was intended to be a replacement for Joni Pitkanen last season, but he ended up being much more than that. He was rewarded with a three-year deal from the Hurricanes after exceeding expectations on the blue line.
The 33-year-old defenseman should continue to be a steady, reliable defensive presence for the Carolina Hurricanes next season. He will likely be in a top-four role all of next season.
The 3rd pairing was hard to decide, but I went with John-Michael Liles over Tim Gleason and Jay Harrison for several reasons.
Bill peters has said that he wants his defensemen to be more involved in the offense this year, and that has Liles written all over it. Gleason and Harrison are not players that will jump up in the offense very often.
I still expect Tim Gleason to dress in a lot of games, but I think Liles will get the nod to start the year. John-Michael will likely have a short leash. If Liles struggles, expect Gleason to see more playing time if he isn’t already in the lineup consistently by then.
I’m convinced that Michal Jordan will compete for a NHL roster spot, but he’s the odd-man out here. The Canes have a lot depth on defense, so Jordan may not see much NHL time next year, even though he may deserve it.
Haydn Fleury, the team’s 7th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, will likely make a solid push at an NHL roster spot, but he would really have to push the hand of Bill Peters and Ron Francis in order to make this team as a rookie.