The injury to Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk will open up a spot on the roster for another young Carolina defenseman to potentially shine.
It was reported today that Carolina Hurricanes alternate captain and all-star Justin Faulk sustained yet another injury. This time he will be week to week. Entering an important stretch of games, the loss of Faulk is going to be a challenge to overcome. He was also just starting to come around this season, scoring 9 points in his last 8 games.
Canes fans must think positively though. When one door closes, another opens. Faulk’s offensive impact is going to have to be replicated by Carolina’s forwards. On defense though, the Canes have lots of options for the next few weeks. With so many defensive prospects chomping at the bit to get into the NHL, it might be time to see what they’ve got.
Currently, Klas Dahlbeck and Ryan Murphy are healthy extras. Neither have been good in the NHL this year, which is the reason they have been scratched so much. On their conditioning stints in Charlotte, both have been equally as underwhelming. With so little playing time and upside to playing either of these two, it might be smart to look to Charlotte to try and find a Faulk replacement.
It is so easy to forget the Hurricanes 1st round pick from 2014. Haydn Fleury has been put on the Canes back burner and set to simmer for a couple years now. He is probably still not yet ready for full National Hockey League duties, but it might be time to get a taste of what Fleury can do.
In his first professional season in the American league, Fleury hasn’t blown anyone away, but he hasn’t been bad either. In 23 games played, the former Red Deer Rebel has scored 3 times and added 5 assists. He is no offensive catalyst, but his plus 3 rating is best among Checkers defensemen.
At the time of his drafting, scouts knew Fleury was a steady defenseman, but they were unsure if he could become a dynamic blue liner. That special something still hasn’t quite shown itself yet, but he still remains a really solid player all around. He is a big body who can really skate, so he likely could hang with NHL players, at least for a few weeks. As long as he isn’t slotted to fill in directly for Faulk, Haydn Fleury could be a nice option for the time being.
Like Fleury, fellow 20 year old Roland McKeown is playing in Charlotte, working towards the NHL. However, the road towards that promise land has been a bit bumpier for McKeown this season.
With the likes of Matt Tennyson getting called up, McKeown has been thrown into a tough situation in Charlotte. The Checkers have had to deal with a lot of turnover thanks to players getting promoted to the Canes and injuries. That has made it difficult to keep chemistry and to get wins.
McKeown has fallen victim to that this season. The adjustment has made it hard for him, and the Checkers as a whole. After 28 games, McKeown has just a single goal is -8. However, if he got a call up, there is some reason to be optimistic. Despite that poor offensive output, McKeown is the more offensively gifted between him and Fleury, so that might be better when replacing Faulk. Also, in a more stable situation in Carolina, he might be able to find more success.