The Anaheim Ducks landed a coveted young player, acquiring Haydn Fleury from the Carolina Hurricanes, according to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic. Jani Hakanpaa will go the other way with a sixth-round pick.
This is one of the stranger moves of the day, part of a puzzling deadline approach for the team currently sitting in second place in the NHL standings. The Hurricanes essentially stood pat on deadline day, switching out one defenseman for another. One could even call them sellers, as they arguably gave up the better player and netted a draft pick as part of the deal. Yes, Carolina was seeking a right-shot defenseman, and Hakanpaa fits the bill. He has also adjusted his defensive game well in what amounts to his first full NHL season, providing physicality and sound checking on the Anaheim blue line. He’s surely not a bad acquisition.
With that said, it’s difficult to see this being considered a net gain for the Hurricanes. Fleury has been underutilized and underwhelming this season, but in the past he has shown to be a very capable defenseman. The 24-year-old, who was the seventh overall pick in 2014, skates well, contributes in all three zones and has been a positive possession player in every season of his NHL career. In contrast, Hakanpaa provides little support in the offensive end and is not relied on as a puck mover, due in no small part to some turnover struggles. Fleury seems to be the better, more well-rounded defenseman and is four years younger with term on his contract and team control remaining beyond that point as well. By most measures, Anaheim gets the better player. Sure, Carolina avoids losing him for nothing in the Expansion Draft, but could the Canes not have done better than a limited rental with little NHL experience and a late pick? And why did they not make any other additions to the roster? These are questions that the Hurricanes hope their fans won’t be asking if the playoffs don’t go as expected.