Keeping with the bye week theme of checking in Carolina Hurricanes’ prospects but jumping up to the AHL level, here below is a mid-season update from ‘Checking In’ writer Jordan Futrell on the team’s top 3 blue line prospects at the AHL level – Trevor Carrick, Haydn Fleury and Roland McKeown.
If you missed it or need a quick memory refresher, Jordan provided a reasonably detailed update on all 3 players in a series of November articles. Roland McKeown’s ‘First impressions’ article is HERE. And Haydn Fleury’s ‘First impressions’ article is HERE.
Canes and Coffee: On Trevor Carrick, he has become a veteran at the AHL level but has yet to receive much of a chance at the NHL level. How would you describe his 2016-17 season? What parts of his game suggest that he is ready to play and stay at the NHL level? What parts of Carrick’s game still need work to be NHL ready?
Jordan Futrell: Trevor Carrick entered the 2016-2017 season with high expectations after posting 42 points in 70 games while playing on the Checkers first defensive pairing. He would have a decent start to the season, but in early November he would lose his defensive partner Matt Tennyson to the NHL. Later that month, Carrick would suffer an injury that would cause him to miss 18 straight games. Since returning to the team in mid-January, Carrick has tallied 6 points in 12 games and is beginning to look more like the player he was last season. He does a terrific job of quarterbacking the offense on the power play and when the Checkers break out of the defensive zone. Carrick also does a solid job of getting pucks towards the net on offense though sometimes playing around with the puck on his stick can lead to turnovers. But for Carrick to become a consistent NHL player, he needs to improve his speed and strengthen his frame, so he can keep up with the forwards in the NHL.
Canes and Coffee: On Haydn Fleury, how has he progressed in his first season at the AHL level in 2016-17? What are his strengths? What areas of his game still needs improvement to play at the NHL level? How would you evaluate his readiness to play at the NHL level right now?
Jordan Futrell: The beginning of the AHL season saw Haydn Fleury finally take to the ice for his first professional season in the Carolina Hurricanes organization. Canes fans have been anticipating this guy, since the summer of 2014 and now that he is finally here, how is he been doing with Charlotte? Much better is the answer to that. In the first part of the season Fleury looked timid and he wasn’t doing much to affect the game. But as the season has continued he has illustrated a steady improvement from where he began. Fleury no longer looks afraid to carry the puck up through the neutral zone and attempt to fire it on net to create offense. He has also displayed an ability to be a shutdown defenseman checking the opposing teams’ best players. His most impressive stat of the season up to this point is that he is +11 in the plus/minus and the next closest player on the Checkers is Dennis Robertson at +6. Fleury needs to improve his speed and polish up his offensive game before he is 100% ready for the NHL. But with how he has been showing improvement lately, Fleury could easily be ready by the beginning of next season.
Canes and Coffee: On Roland McKeown, how has he progressed in his first season at the AHL level in 2016-17? What are his strengths? What areas of his game still needs improvement to play at the NHL level? How would you evaluate his readiness to play at the NHL level right now?
Jordan Futrell: Roland McKeown has had a decent first season in professional hockey. He’s spent most the season on the Checkers second defensive pairing, splitting playing with Jake Chelios and current partner Trevor Carrick. McKeown has yet to show any signs of an elite offensive game at the professional level, tallying one goal and seven assist in 43 games. He is a talented skater with NHL level speed and he does a solid job of moving the puck on the break out. McKeown has been prone sometimes to get overzealous when making passes out of the defensive zone, and it has led to a few costly turnovers. He also likes to pinch up on offense and that has led to some opposing forwards being able to get behind him and come in for quality scoring chances on Checkers goaltenders. McKeown still needs to improve his physicality, fine tune his offensive game, and improve his decision-making skills before he is ready for full time play at the NHL level.
In case you missed it yesterday, the most recent ‘Midterms’ update on Hurricanes prospects below the AHL level featured 2016 first round draftee Julien Gauthier.