Carolina Hurricanes: A Glance at the Right Handed Defensemen Depth

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 06: Justin Faulk #27 of the Carolina Hurricanes (l) celebrates his first period goal against the Philadelphia Flyers and is joined by Brett Pesce #22 (r) at the Wells Fargo Center on April 06, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 06: Justin Faulk #27 of the Carolina Hurricanes (l) celebrates his first period goal against the Philadelphia Flyers and is joined by Brett Pesce #22 (r) at the Wells Fargo Center on April 06, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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On the surface, it appears as if the Carolina Hurricanes have a plethora of right handed defensemen when you look at the NHL roster, but is this depth present throughout all levels of the organization?

Depending on where you look, it is estimated that anywhere from 60-70% of NHL players shoot left, making the remaining 30-40% righties. Of that percentage, most are forwards, resulting in a rather small pool of right handed defenseman available. Ideally, each NHL team would love to have a lefty and righty on each pair, making these types of players a valuable asset.

The Carolina Hurricanes are one of a select few that have an access of NHL caliber ‘RHD’, thus leading to constant trade rumors surrounding the team. Although there’s still a chance we could see the long rumored D for a forward swap, it’s not as likely as it would have been a year or two ago with Justin Faulk and Trevor van Riemsdyk pending UFAs this offseason, and Dougie Hamilton the next. With that in mind, lets take a look at all the RHD within the organization.

At the NHL level, Trevor van Riemsdyk is the elder skates-man of the blueline at 28. Although he is likely to miss some time early this season, van Riemsdyk is a steady defenseman who helped solidify the Hurricanes 5/6 pair when he was acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights during the expansion draft in 2017. Even though he isn’t known for putting up big numbers, you can safely expect 15 points each season from Trevor.

A year younger than van Riemsdyk is Justin Faulk. At 27, Faulk is one of those players that gets mixed reviews from fans. On one hand, there are people who feel like Justin is a key member of the team’s core and should be resigned no matter the cost. On the other, there are people who feel as if Rod Brind’Amour is misusing Faulk on the top unit power play, and he should be slotted behind Dougie on the second unit instead. Either way, Justin is an above-average offensive defenseman good for a point total in the mid 30’s each season.

Like Justin, fans have both positive and negative feelings towards 26 year old Dougie Hamilton. Originally acquired in a trade with Calgary at the 2018 NHL draft, Hamilton is just beginning to enter his prime. Known more as a late season performer, Dougie scored a career high, and a single-season franchise record in goals scored for a D-man, netting 18 goals last season. With two years left on his current deal, there has been some speculation that if Faulk is extended, the team might look to move him for a scoring forward.

Although he spent most of last season playing his off side with Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce is the youngest of the established RHD, and is arguably the most important to the Hurricanes long term. With one of the biggest bargain deals in the NHL, Brett’s offensive game has begun to show signs of reaching another level. When paired with Jaccob Slavin, the duo formed one of the best shut down pairs in the entire league and should continue to be a handful for opposing teams for years to come.