Being a first-round draft pick – even a top 10 draft pick – carries no guarantees when it comes to playing in the NHL. That’s especially true for defensemen. Haydn Fleury would like to think he’ll be an exception, that he can play his way onto the Carolina Hurricanes’ roster this year and make the jump from junior hockey to the NHL. Then again, he knows that could be asking for too much, too soon. “When you get drafted so high and you see top 10 picks make it the next year, that’s kind of one of your goals in the summer,” Fleury said this week. “I think at the same time I need to keep a level mind and realize not many 18-year-olds play in the NHL and it’s a big step, especially on defense.” The Canes made Fleury the No. 7 pick of this year’s draft in Philadelphia, taking a player who had a big season for the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League and was rated the No. 2 defenseman in the draft. Fleury played in Red Deer for Brent Sutter, a former NHL head coach and the father of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Brandon Sutter. “He teaches you how to be a pro at a young age,” Fleury said of Sutter. “He treats everyone likes pros and has high expectations.” Two years ago, the Rebels had defenseman Mathew Dumba taken by the Minnesota Wild with the seventh pick of the draft. Dumba initially made the Wild roster after the NHL lockout ended but soon went back to Red Deer. Dumba made his NHL debut for the Wild last season but was sent back to the WHL after competing for Canada in the 2014 World Junior Championship. Seth Jones was the the fourth overall pick of the 2013 draft and the defenseman did quickly jump into the Nashville Predators lineup. The No. 7 selection, defenseman Darnell Nurse, was taken by the Edmonton Oilers but sent back to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League.
Canes’ top draft pick hopes to make NHL quickly
Raleigh News & Observer | Jul 24