Carolina Hurricanes: In Defense of Jani Hakanpää

Mar 28, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Anaheim Ducks defenseman Jani Hakanpaa (28) handles the puck during the first period against the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 28, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Anaheim Ducks defenseman Jani Hakanpaa (28) handles the puck during the first period against the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /
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Everything seemed really quiet on the NHL Trade Deadline for the Carolina Hurricanes, until after 3 PM deadline. Pierre LeBrun would break the news, seemingly out of nowhere, that Haydn Fleury had been traded to the Anaheim Ducks.

I, personally, kept hope that maybe the player coming back would be Josh Manson, but I was wrong; Jani Hakanpää became a Carolina Hurricanes player. I may be in the minority here with this trade, but I like this trade for the Canes going forward.

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Jani Hakanpää, a massive 6’5 right handed defenseman, formerly of the Anaheim Ducks, has played basically top 4 minutes for the Ducks this year because of injuries to other players. As his stats and advanced stats show this year, he plays a lot more of a shutdown game.

His style of game can now perfectly compliment that of someone like Jake Bean or Jake Gardiner, which now opens them up to be a lot more aggressive in their own style of game.

Another good thing about Jani Hakanpää is his contract. He is on an expiring deal, which gives the Hurricanes some serious help heading into the expansion draft (more on that later). Something I forgot to mention though, is that Hakanpää plays an extremely physical game. He comes into Carolina at 3rd in the NHL in hits, behind only Brady Tkachuk and Radko Gudas.

The Carolina Hurricanes now have 7 NHL-caliber defenseman to roll out at any given time, with some more wildcards like Joey Keane and Joakim Ryan working in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves and periodically the taxi squad. That is more than enough depth that can push further and further into the playoffs.

Now, everyone is probably mad that Haydn Fleury is gone, which is perfectly fine. I was very mad at this trade, at first, since we didn’t get Josh Manson. Fleury was a legitimate guy that could blossom into playing in your top 4. It’s a true shame that he could never blossom into that guy for the Carolina Hurricanes, but he’ll likely get that chance in Anaheim and I wish him nothing but the best.

But truthfully, this trade serves a few different purposes. Firstly, Hakanpää will let one of Jake Bean or Jake Gardiner play more aggressive in their style of game. Secondly, his contract only being at the league minimum and on an expiring contract opens up more money for Dougie Hamilton and Andrei Svechnikov extensions. Lastly, this makes a world of difference heading into the expansion draft and makes decisions surrounding protections a little easier.

Now, with trading away Haydn Fleury, this opens up the front office to protect Jake Bean and basically only have to worry about losing one of Brady Skjei or Jake Gardiner and it doesn’t really take a rocket scientist to know who Ron Francis would rather have out of those two players. But, we won’t know any answers to that question until later this summer, when the expansion draft actually happens.

Related Story. Hurricanes Trade Fleury for Hakanpaa. light