As a second round pick in the 2010 draft, the Hurricanes hoped that Justin Faulk would one day develop into an NHL player. He has. But I do not think even the optimists would have guessed that he would progress as fast and as much as he has. After winning a spot that was not supposed to be his in training camp after joining the team in the summer of 2011, Faulk made his NHL debut on October 7, 2011 at the young age of 19. He spent parts of the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons in the AHL before become an NHL regular at the end of that second season.
Leveraging 104 games of NHL experience and chemistry with new defense partner Andrej Sekera, Justin Faulk vaulted to another level in 2013-14. In that season, he continued his solid stay-home play defensively and boosted his scoring to a very respectable five goals and 32 assists. Exiting the 2013-14 season, Faulk had established himself as a capable first pairing defenseman who could play in any situation. His style was that of a stay-home defenseman, but he had enough puck handling and shooting ability to contribute offensively both at even strength and on the power play. He was strong and physical but also very underrated as a skater especially in small spaces. And while he was not a pure puck carrier in the mold of Erik Karlsson, Faulk was sound passing the puck out of his own zone and comfortable carrying it. In short, at the young age of 23, Justin Faulk had established himself as a legitimate top pairing NHL defenseman.
But wait. There’s more! With the team and its fans just hoping for continued steady improvement in the 2014-15, Faulk did much better. While continuing in his role as a solid defensive defenseman, he found another gear offensively. On a Hurricanes team that was offensively challenged, he jumped to 15 goals and 34 assists, just barely missing the 50-point mark. Those 49 points are a Carolina Hurricanes record for a defenseman (as of August 2015).
On his path to establishing himself as the Hurricanes best defenseman, Justin Faulk has also played for Team USA in the 2014 Olympics and represented the Eastern Conference in the 2014-15 All-Star game. Already part of the core of the blue line, Justin Faulk has written a couple great chapters in his young career and is destined to be a leader of the next great chapters in Hurricanes history.