Carolina Hurricanes Stay or Go: Restricted Free Agents Edition

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Haydn Fleury, Carolina Hurricanes (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Haydn FLEURY

For anyone who follows me on twitter (@FutureCanes) you already likely know where I’m going with this.

Haydn. FLEURY. is. GOOD.

I’m serious. This kid has had a pretty good season, considering how he was a frequent healthy extra early on in the season. He’s managed to score his first NHL goal (and has four total!), has already set a career-high with 14 points, and is rocking a career-best 54.4 Corsi percentage.

He has clearly, deservingly, earned the trust of coach Rod Brind’Amour along the way. After not playing more than 20 minutes in a game all season, Fleury surpassed the 20 minute mark in 4 of the last 5 Canes games before the season was put on hold, and was often the 2nd D behind just Jaccob Slavin.

He even led the Hurricanes in five-on-five ice-time against the Islanders on March 7th – which was beyond my wildest dreams. Fleury has also started 49.7% of his shifts in the defensive zone, as opposed to 55-60% in his previous two years, which shows the coaching staff isn’t trying to shelter him anymore.

Haydn Fleury has arrived, ladies and gentlemen.

The Hurricanes only have 5 defenders on their current roster signed for next season, and it seems unlikely any of Joel Edmundson, Trevor van Riemsdyk or Sami Vatanen will be re-signed as pending unrestricted free agents. I would definitely bet on Fleury being the 6th D.

He’s currently on a one-year deal making just $850k, and will surely get a bit of a raise on that in contract negotiations this summer. However, as he hasn’t fully blossomed as an NHL defender, there’s hope the Canes would be able to convince Fleury into a 2-year bridge deal, which would maintain his last year of RFA status in 2022.

An interesting thing to note is that Fleury will be eligible for salary arbitration this summer, so that could be a possibility should the team and Fleury not be able to agree on terms. However, I don’t envision that being a problem, and regardless, should Carolina decide they want to keep him, Haydn Fleury WILL be a Carolina Hurricane next year.

He’s established himself as an important do-it-all defender, and is arguably underrated by some fans based on his lofty draft status. At just 23 and still early in his NHL career, Fleury still has some untapped potential, and figures to be a key piece on the Canes’ blueline for years to come.

Verdict: Re-sign (likely a bridge deal – 2 years/2M per)

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