Carolina Hurricanes: Why Brett Pesce is irreplaceable

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He can play with anyone, and on his off-side

Every team in the NHL has a defensive pairing it wheels out late in games to protect a close lead, or to shut down a crucial opposition power play. That pairing for the Carolina Hurricanes is Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce. Over recent years they have developed a proven chemistry, and the two lead the Canes in short-handed ice time this season. You want to protect a lead, or keep your team in the game? Send out Slavin and Pesce.

However, the acquisition of Dougie Hamilton last summer upset the apple cart somewhat. Suddenly the Carolina Hurricanes had four RHD, and only two LHD; Pesce has now settled into playing on the second pairing, on his off-side, and now sees Justin Faulk as his partner in crime at even strength while Slavin enjoys the company of the team’s main offensive threat from the blueline, Dougie Hamilton.

That’s the beauty of Brett Pesce. He can play top pairing minutes alongside Slavin. He can play on the second pair and protect the Canes from Justin Faulk’s decision-making. He could, I am sure, play with either Calvin de Haan or Trevor van Riemsdyk and build a formidable partnership with either. In time, I want to see Pesce play with young Jake Bean, and mentor him while be becomes a full-time NHL defenseman.

The only thing Brett Pesce is missing is a letter on his chest – but make no mistake, he is a leader on the blueline, and that rare breed of defenseman who can literally play anywhere on any pairing and still play good hockey.

The fact that Brett Pesce been ‘reduced’ to being Justin Faulk’s babysitter should be seen as a badge of honor – who else would you entrust with covering for Faulk’s offensive mistakes? That’s not saying that Faulk is a bad player – far from it – but if there’s one guy on this Carolina Hurricanes who would benefit most from an elite shutdown defenseman, it’s Faulk. Perhaps that’s why the Canes are playing so well recently?