Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin is playing wonderful hockey right now. He should be rewarded with an All-Star Game bid.
Yesterday on Cardiac Cane, we took a second look at the dominant play of Brett Pesce. But today, we shift gears to his partner in crime, Jaccob Slavin. While Pesce is a statiscians dream player, Slavin exudes a certain ‘wow’ factor is buddy doesn’t. It is this quality that makes Slavin a candidate to represent the Carolina Hurricanes at the 2017 NHL All-Star game.
The Hurricanes struck gold with Slavin. The 4th round pick in 2012 has surpassed everyone’s expectations. The 22 year old is now the player on Carolina’s back end. He leads defensemen in total minutes, minutes on the penalty kill, points, and takeaways. When he isn’t leading a statistical category, he is usually either 2nd or 3rd best as well.
Let us also not forget that the Hurricanes’ dominance while down a man is due in large part to Slavin. He logs the most minutes short handed and is the first choice to kill penalties. In Anaheim this past week, Slavin helped to kill a 4 on 3 in overtime to keep Carolina in it. This is just one of many times the guy has kept his team alive with outstanding shorthanded play.
What makes Slavin great though isn’t just his stat line. It is all the little things he does that helps his team. The guy just doesn’t make mistakes. On the off chance he turns the puck over or is stripped, he gets it right back. Since he came into the league about a year ago, you’d be very hard pressed to find an instance when Slavin’s play directly resulted in an opposition goal.
The same goes offensively. With each game he gets more and more confident as an offensive defenseman. His skating is up there with Viktor Stalberg as the best on the team. Using tight turns and some deft puck handling, he escapes danger and either makes an exit pass or joins the rush. His beauty against Ottawa is a perfect example of all those qualities coming together.
Now 28 games into Slavin’s second season, the ideas of a sophomore slump have evaporated. Rather, he has cemented himself as the cornerstone defenseman on the Hurricanes, stripping that title away from Justin Faulk. Where can he go from here?
The answer? Hopefully Los Angeles. The 2017 NHL All-Star Game is being played in LA and Carolina will be represented by someone. Strong early indications suggest that Jeff Skinner will return to the showcase, which is a great comeback story in its own right. But, Slavin might sneak past number 53 and head to the festivities instead.
Skinner exploded out of the gate this season, but has cooled off since then. He still leads the team in offense, but isn’t as dynamic as he was in October and November. Alternatively, Jaccob Slavin has been a rock all year. The difference now is that his offensive production is finally catching up to everything else. Slavin has registered assists in 4 of the last 5 games.
Sadly for Jaccob, the NHL is probably too focused on name recognition to pick Slavin as Carolina’s All-Star. That’s a shame. Slavin is one of the best new wave NHL defenseman to come into the league in the last couple years. If they gave him a chance, the NHL might be pleasantly surprised by Carolina’s up and coming star.