CANES PICK FLEURY

Jun. 27, 2014 @ 10:42 PM

In his first NHL Draft as the Carolina Hurricanes’ general manager, Ron Francis’s philosophy was simple.

Francis took the guy who he thought was best and would most likely contribute to a Hurricanes team.

The Hurricanes chose Haydn Fleury, a 17-year-old defenseman whose amateur team was the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League, with the seventh-overall pick in the NHL draft in Philadelphia on Friday.

“When you’re picking at seven you need to pick the best guy available to move forward in your organization,” said Francis from Philadelphia. “It did not matter if he was a forward or a defenseman. We were very pleased he was sitting there when we took him.”

Fleury (6-3, 207) is a big-bodied defenceman.

He played for the gold medal-winning Canada under-18 team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August. He was named MVP of the World Under-18 Junior Championships in Finland this April.

As to which current NHL player Fleury has the potential to emulate, both Francis and Fleury said Jay Bouwmeester, a 13-year veteran who plays for St. Louis and made two All-Star Games.

“As soon as the Hurricanes called my name I couldn’t have been happier,” said Fleury. “It was one of those teams that I really wanted to go. There are no words for it.”

Although he’s never been to North Carolina, Fleury, a Saskatchewan native, noted that he’s heard nothing but good things.

Francis said he does not want to rush Fleury. He plans to bring him to conditioning camp in a few weeks. However, Francis said that if he needs more time in Red Deer, Alberta, the club will send him there.

Francis notes that as a big-bodied defenceman who skates well, Fleury is an ideal modern NHL defenseman. “Our guys really liked him as he has a lot of upside,” said Ron Francis.

“We don’t need to rush this guy in,” said Tony MacDonald, the Hurricanes Director of Amateur Scouting, echoing Francis’ sentiment that he could spend some time back up in Red Deer. “We expect him to come in a compete for a job. We think he’ll be able to do that.”

On his immediate prospects with the team, Fleury said, “I’m going to come into camp and try to make the best impression I can to make it hard for the team to send me back to junior. But if I get sent back, I’ll continue to work hard and help my junior team win games.”

Hurricanes assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour, who played for the Philadelphia Flyers from 1991 to 2000 before playing the last 10 seasons of his career for Carolina, was the team’s representative to announce the pick.

He was appreciated by the Philadelphia crowd as he enjoyed a rare standing ovation for a team representative that was not a Flyer before the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.

“It was what we were hoping for, he deserved that,” said Francis, who had asked Brind’Amour to make the pick in Philadelphia. “It was a great response by the Fliers fans.”

 

EKBLAD GOES NO. 1 OVERALL TO PANTHERS

By DAN GELSTON, Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- The Florida Panthers selected defenseman Aaron Ekblad with the first pick in the NHL draft Friday night.

The 6-foot-4, 214-pound Ekblad played for Barrie in the Ontario Hockey League. He is the first defenseman to go No. 1 since St. Louis took Erik Johnson in 2006.

Without a clear cut No. 1, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon was open to trading the pick. In the end, he decided to take the 18-year-old defenseman from Belle River, Ontario, with the first selection at the Wells Fargo Center.

"That is the burden of expectation. I chase it," Ekblad said. "I want that burden of expectation. I want that feel for motivation and I want to succeed under that."

The Panthers had a top-three pick in the NHL draft for the fourth time in the past five years. The first three — defenseman Erik Gudbranson (in 2010), wing Jonathan Huberdeau (2011) and center Aleksander Barkov (2013) — all played significant roles last season. Florida also won the draft lottery in 2002 and 2003, but traded away those picks.

"We are thrilled to have selected Aaron with the No. 1 pick," Tallon said. "He is a strong, smart and physically mature defenseman who skates well and can play at both ends of the ice. Aaron is another building block for our team and we are confident that he will fit well with our young nucleus of talented players that includes Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau and Erik Gudbranson. We look forward to his continued growth and contributions to our team and the South Florida community."

Ekblad was the OHL's most outstanding defenseman last season, ranking first among defensemen with 23 goals and tying for fifth with 53 points. He also served as Barrie's captain.

Ekblad said he was NHL ready and should fit in with the Panthers after a recent scouting mission.

"You look who they have on their back end, right or left shots, all that kind of stuff," he said. "I was watching to see if Florida would get a new coach. The last little while, it's pretty fun to just follow that after the season."

Flyers fans packed the arena for the first draft in the city. They gave one of the longest sustained boos in recent memory for NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's draft introduction. He was drowned out for most of his 2-minute speech thanking the city for its hospitality.

"Isn't this supposed to be the city of brotherly love," he asked.

Former Flyer Rod Brind'Amour received a huge ovation when the Carolina assistant coach made the pick for the Hurricanes.

The Sabres selected center Sam Reinhart with the second overall pick. He is the son of former NHL player Paul Reinhart, who was selected by the Atlanta Flames in the first round in 1979.

Reinhart has the potential to be a top-line center in filling a key need for the rebuilding Sabres, who are coming off one of their worst seasons in franchise history. Buffalo (21-51-10) finished last in the NHL standings, and set a franchise record for losses.

The Edmonton Oilers selected center Leon Draisaitl with the third overall pick, Calgary took center Sam Bennett with the fourth pick and the New York Islanders picked forward Michael Dal Colle fifth. Vancouver selected forward Jake Virtanen with the sixth pick, Carolina took defenseman Haydn Fleury seventh, Toronto took forward William Nylander eighth, Winnipeg selected forward Nickolaj Ehlers ninth and Anaheim completed the top 10 with forward Nick Ritchie.

The Coyotes made their first pick since changing their name from Phoenix to Arizona. They selected forward Brendan Perlini with the first pick in "Arizona" history.

There was a big trade in the hours before the draft, when the Anaheim Ducks acquired center Ryan Kesler from the Vancouver Canucks for center Nick Bonino, defenseman Luca Sbisa and the 24th overall pick Friday.

The 29-year-old Kesler is a standout two-way center who has spent his entire 10-season career in Vancouver, compiling six 20-goal seasons and 392 career points. The two-time U.S. Olympian won the Selke Trophy in 2011 as the NHL's best defensive forward.

Nashville traded forward Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling to the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward James Neal midway through the draft.

 

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT HAYDN FLEURY

BRETT FINGER/SI.com

“Haydn Fleury is a big, physical defenseman who shows a lot of offensive potential as well. Considered by most to be the second best defenseman in the draft behind Aaron Ekblad, Haydn Fleury show a lot of potential, and he could be a future franchise player in the NHL.

“Being one of the netter body checkers in the entire draft, Haydn Fleury is a very intimidating blueliner. The 6’3″, 201 pound defenseman also has the size to physically impose his will on the ice in many scenarios.

“Fleury tallied 46 points in 70 games played with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League in the 2013-2014 season. He scored 8 goals and added 38 assists with Red Deer this pas season.

“In 70 regular season games with Red Deer prior to 2013-2014, Haydn Fleury posted 19 points (4 goals, 15 assists). Four of the seventy games were played at the tail end of the 2011-2012 season, and he failed to score a point in those games.

“Fleury is still just 17-years-old, so he will likely head back to the WHL and play another season with the Red Deer Rebels in 2014-2015.”

HAYDN FLEURY PROFILE

BY MICHAEL SMITH, CarolinaHurricanes.com

The NHL’s Central Scouting Service ranks Haydn Fleury, 17, ninth among North American skaters and second among defensemen.

“He probably epitomizes the so-called safe pick,” said Tony MacDonald, the Canes lead amateur scout. “He’s probably going to play for you for 10-12 years and give you great service. He’s a very reliable, solid guy.”

The 2013-14 season marked Fleury’s second full season with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. As an alternate captain, he paced team defensemen in scoring with 46 points (8g, 38a) in 70 games. That output was more than double the 19 points (4g, 15a) he recorded in 66 games as a rookie, which was still good for third-best among team defensemen.

“He skates very, very well and moves the puck well,” MacDonald said.

Additionally, the 6-foot-3, 203-pound defenseman finished at a team-high plus-15 on a Red Deer squad that had a minus-10 goal differential and failed to qualify for the postseason.

Following his sophomore season in the WHL, Fleury skated for the Canadian national team in the 2014 IIHF U-18 World Championship and captured a bronze medal in a 3-1 victory over Sweden. He also earned high honors as the tournament’s best defenseman.

“He’s very intelligent,” MacDonald said. “He’s not an overly physical guy, but he’s able to defend well.”

When discussing Fleury and the upside he brings, Central Scouting will offer up a comparison to Jay Bouwmeester, someone who makes it look easy in his own end and can make the first quick pass out of the zone to jump-start a rush.

Fleury is poised to become the third player from Carlyle, Saskatoon, a town of just 1,252 in his 1996 birth year, to skate in the NHL after forward Brenden Morrow – who babysat Fleury when he was a toddler – and forward Jim McKenzie.

As a big, mobile defenseman who is still evolving offensively and rounding out the defensive dimension in his game, Fleury possesses the qualities that should lead to him being a top-ten pick on draft day.

“He knows how to play the game, and he’s a pretty safe pick when it comes to defensemen,” MacDonald said.
 

HAYDN FLEURY PROFILE/NHL.com

• Known for his size and skating ability, Fleury led all Red Deer defensemen in 2013-14 with 46 points (8-38—46) in 70 games while registering a team leading plus-15 rating. In his rookie season of 2012-13, he finished third among Rebels’ blueliners with 19 points (4-15—19) in 66 games.

• Fleury was named Best Defenseman at the 2014 Under-18 World Championship playing a solid all-around game to help Canada earn the bronze medal. He also earned gold with Team Canada at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial.

• At age three, Fleury’s babysitter in his hometown of Carlyle, Saskatchewan, was current St. Louis Blues forward Brenden Morrow, then a star with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. Fleury will try to follow in Morrow’s footsteps and become just the third player from Carlyle, a town of approximately 1,400 people, to skate in the NHL (Jim McKenzie played 880 NHL games from 1989-90 to 2003-04).

• Fleury played Bantam and Midget AAA with Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask. Brad Richards (New York Rangers), Vincent Lecavalier (Philadelphia Flyers), Jordan Eberle (Edmonton Oilers) and Tyler Myers (Buffalo Sabres) are among the 20 Notre Dame alumni currently playing in the NHL.

HAYDN FLEURY SCOUTING REPORT/NHL.com

NHL Central Scouting’s B.J. MacDonald:

“He’s got good, strong mobility, great vision and has a knack for making that first good outlet pass. He’s composed and calm with the puck and has an ability of knowing when to join the rush at the right moments.”

2014 NHL DRAFT: COMPLETE FIRST ROUND RESULTS
Rnd Pick Overall Team Player Pos Country Height Weight Amateur League Amateur Team
1 1 1 FLA AARON EKBLAD D CAN 6' 3" 216 OHL BARRIE
1 2 2 BUF SAM REINHART C CAN 6' 0" 185 WHL KOOTENAY
1 3 3 EDM LEON DRAISAITL C DEU 6' 1" 204 WHL PRINCE ALBERT
1 4 4 CGY SAMUEL BENNETT C CAN 6' 0" 178 OHL KINGSTON
1 5 5 NYI MICHAEL DAL COLLE LW CAN 6' 1" 182 OHL OSHAWA
1 6 6 VAN JAKE VIRTANEN RW CAN 6' 0" 208 WHL CALGARY
1 7 7 CAR HAYDN FLEURY D CAN 6' 2" 203 WHL RED DEER
1 8 8 TOR WILLIAM NYLANDER C/W CAN 5' 11" 169 SWEDEN MODO
1 9 9 WPG NIKOLAJ EHLERS LW DNK 5' 11" 162 QMJHL HALIFAX
1 10 10 ANA NICHOLAS RITCHIE LW CAN 6' 2" 226 OHL PETERBOROUGH
1 11 11 NSH KEVIN FIALA LW CHE 5' 10" 180 SWEDEN-JR. HV 71 JR.
1 12 12 ARI BRENDAN PERLINI LW GBR 6' 2" 205 OHL NIAGARA
1 13 13 WSH JAKUB VRANA L/RW CZE 5' 11" 185 SWEDEN LINKOPING
1 14 14 DAL JULIUS HONKA D FIN 5' 10" 180 WHL SWIFT CURRENT
1 15 15 DET DYLAN LARKIN C USA 6' 0" 190 USHL USA U-18
1 16 16 CBJ SONNY MILANO LW USA 5' 11" 183 USHL USA U-18
1 17 17 PHI TRAVIS SANHEIM D CAN 6' 3" 181 WHL CALGARY
1 18 18 MIN ALEX TUCH RW USA 6' 3" 213 USHL USA U-18
1 19 19 TBL ANTHONY DEANGELO D USA 5' 10" 175 OHL SARNIA
1 20 20 CHI NICK SCHMALTZ C USA 5' 11" 172 USHL GREEN BAY
1 21 21 STL ROBERT FABBRI C CAN 5' 10" 170 OHL GUELPH
1 22 22 PIT KASPERI KAPANEN RW FIN 6' 0" 181 FINLAND KALPA
1 23 23 COL CONNER BLEACKLEY C CAN 6' 0" 192 WHL RED DEER
1 24 24 VAN JARED MCCANN C CAN 6' 0" 179 OHL SAULT STE. MARIE
1 25 25 BOS DAVID PASTRNAK RW CZE 6' 0" 167 SWEDEN-2 SODERTALJE
1 26 26 MTL NIKITA SCHERBAK RW RUS 6' 1" 175 WHL SASKATOON
1 27 27 SJS NIKOLAY GOLDOBIN RW RUS 5' 11" 178 OHL SARNIA
1 28 28 NYI JOSHUA HO-SANG C/RW CAN 5' 11" 175 OHL WINDSOR
1 29 29 LAK ADRIAN KEMPE LW SWE 6' 1" 187 SWEDEN MODO
1 30 30 NJD JOHN QUENNEVILLE C CAN 6' 0" 182 WHL BRANDON


NHL Number 1 Draft Picks

The Associated Press

First overall selections at the National Hockey League's entry draft (with year, player, team, position and previous club with league or country in parentheses):

2014 — Aaron Ekblad, Florida, D, Barrie (OHL).

2013 — Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado, C, Halifax (QMJHL).

2012 — Nail Yakupov, Edmonton, RW, Sarnia (OHL).

2011 — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton, C, Red Deer (WHL)

2010 — Taylor Hall, Edmonton, LW, Windsor (OHL)

2009 — John Tavares, N.Y. Islanders, C, London (OHL)

2008 — Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay, C, Sarnia (OHL)

2007 — Patrick Kane, Chicago, RW, London (OHL)

2006 — Erik Johnson, St. Louis, D, National U-18 (U.S.)

2005 — Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh, F, Rimouski (QMJHL)

2004 — Alexander Ovechkin, Washington, LW, Dynamo (Russia)

2003 — Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh, G, Cape Breton (QMJHL)

2002 — Rick Nash, Columbus, LW, London (OHL)

2001 — Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta, C, Spartak (Russia)

2000 — Rick DiPietro, N.Y. Islanders, G, Boston U. (NCAA)

1999 — Patrik Stefan, Atlanta, C, Long Beach (IHL)

1998 — Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay, C, Rimouski (QMJHL)

1997 — Joe Thornton, Boston, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

1996 — Chris Phillips, Ottawa, D, Prince Albert (WHL)

1995 — Bryan Berard, Ottawa, D, Detroit (OHL)

1994 — Ed Jovanovski, Florida, D, Windsor (OHL)

1993 — Alexandre Daigle, Ottawa, C, Victoriaville (QMJHL)

1992 — Roman Hamrlik, Tampa Bay, D, ZPS Zin (Czech Republic)

1991 — Eric Lindros, Quebec, C, Oshawa (OHL)

1990 — Owen Nolan, Quebec, RW, Cornwall (OHL)

1989 — Mats Sundin, Quebec, RW, Nacka (Sweden)

1988 — Mike Modano, Minnesota, C, Prince Albert (WHL)

1987 — Pierre Turgeon, Buffalo, C, Granby (QMJHL)

1986 — Joe Murphy, Detroit, C, Michigan St. (NCAA)

1985 — Wendel Clark, Toronto, LW/D, Saskatoon (WHL)

1984 — Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh, C, Laval (QMJHL)

1983 — Brian Lawton, Minnesota, C, Mount St. Charles (U.S. high school)

1982 — Gord Kluzak, Boston, D, Billings (WHL)

1981 — Dale Hawerchuk, Winnipeg, C, Cornwall (QMJHL)

1980 — Doug Wickenheiser, Montreal, C, Regina (WHL)

1979 — Rob Ramage, Colorado, D, London (OHL)

1978 — Bobby Smith, Minnesota, C, Ottawa (OHL)

1977 — Dale McCourt, Detroit, C, St. Catharines (OHL)

1976 — Rick Green, Washington, D, London (OHL)

1975 — Mel Bridgman, Philadelphia, C, Victoria (WHL)

1974 — Greg Joly, Washington, D, Regina (WHL)

1973 — Denis Potvin, N.Y. Islanders, D, Ottawa (OHL)

1972 — Bill Harris, N.Y. Islanders, RW, Toronto (OHL)

1971 — Guy Lafleur, Montreal, RW, Quebec (QMJHL)

1970 — Gilbert Perreault, Buffalo, C, Montreal (OHL)

1969 — Rejean Houle, Montreal, LW, Montreal (OHL)

1968 — Michel Plasse, Montreal, G, Drummondville (QMJHL)

1967 — Rick Pagnutti, Los Angeles, D, Garson (Northern Ont.)

1966 — Barry Gibbs, Boston, D, Estevan (SJHL)

1965 — Andre Veilleux, N.Y. Rangers, RW, Montreal Ranger (Jr.B)

1964 — Claude Gauthier, Detroit, NA, Rosemont (Que.)

1963 — Garry Monahan, Montreal, LW, St. Michael's Juveniles