Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters made major lineup moves on Saturday, but should the team look to Charlotte for answers?
Everyone seems to forget about Haydn Fleury. Once the cream of the Carolina Hurricanes defensive crop, Fleury has been overshadowed by the Slavin, Pesce, Hanifin, and even Jake Bean to some degree. While he may be the forgotten man, attention should be paid to him now as he could be the answer to Carolina’s problems.
Before last Saturday’s game against the Blue Jackets, Bill Peters benched three Canes starters to demonstrate the need for accountability. Whether or not it was justified is a different matter. Anyway, the fact he turned to guys like Ryan Murphy and Klas Dahlbeck signals a need for Peters to find more stability in the team’s bottom defensive pairing.
That is where Haydn Fleury comes into focus. The former 1st round pick has been playing in Charlotte all season and has been solid on a very shaky team. He hasn’t excelled at the AHL level, but he hasn’t been outclassed either. In fact, he has put together a better AHL season this year than both Murphy or Dahlbeck.
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In 35 games for the Checkers, Fleury has 10 points, 3 of which are goals. In his own end, he is a respectable +2 and has logged lots of minutes as a first year pro. Most impressively, he has been arguably Charlotte’s most complete defender, contributing on both ends of the ice. Given the large roster turnover and inconsistent play of his teammates, that’s quite impressive. Dahlbeck and Murphy have been forgettable, if not down right detrimental at times, for Carolina. During their conditioning stints in Charlotte, neither were any better.
If Peters really wants to shake up the bottom two d-men, a Haydn Fleury call up would certainly do the trick. For one, it would force the Canes to send down a more established player like Tennyson, Murphy, or Dahlbeck. It would also send a stronger message to the current NHL roster. If Peters isn’t afraid to remove an established pairing for some prospect, it might bring out the best in those that have struggled.
For Fleury, it vindicates all the hard work he has put forth in the WHL and in Charlotte this season. It would give him the opportunity to prove himself on the NHL stage, which is something he has seen is fellow prospects do. Plus, as we saw with Alex Nedeljkovic, a quick cameo in the NHL can prove to be successful for the player. Even if Fleury’s first NHL performance isn’t as good as Nedeljkovic’s was, he’d be hard pressed to play worse than Hanifin or Tennyson did against Pittsburgh on Friday.