By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C. – A week ago, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Hadyn Fleury said he felt good about how things were going for him during training camp.
“A little bit of an adjustment with some new drills and some subtle changes to the systems we want to play,” Fleury pointed out.
“I thought I picked up on it well and I thought the first game against Tampa went well.”
After finishing the 2017-2018 season with eight assists in 67 games played to go with a minus-2 rating and 14 PIM while contributing 86 shots on goal, he’s played three preseason games highlighted with putting six shots on goal, blocking six shots, and handing out five hits.
Carrying a load
Coming off the Hurricanes’ 4-1 win over the Lightning on Sept. 18, during which he logged 23:30 in ice time, including nine minutes-plus almost equally split on special teams at both ends, he played an effective enough game with three shots, a hit and two blocked shots.
Playing in games against Washington and Nashville, the Carlyle, Saskatchewan native has worked hard to improve his preparation and play in order to get a chance to make the team’s opening night roster.
Following a recent round of cuts announced on Saturday that moved eight more players to Carolina’s AHL affiliate training camp roster with the Charlotte Checkers, it looks as though Fleury’s hard work has paid off.
He currently sits among the remaining group of 23 heading into Sunday’s final preseason game at PNC Arena against the Nashville Predators.
“It’s probably the most important week of training camp,” Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
“We’ll get one more look at things. The group is potentially all here. We’re still looking at where some guys fit. The roster is not set yet. Obviously, by Tuesday, we’ll know where we’re at.”
Whether Fleury makes it to the starting lineup later in the week on opening night to face the New York Islanders on Thursday remains to be seen.
But, for all intents and purposes, the work he’s put in during the offseason has enabled him to play during the preseason at the level expected of him.
Getting cut to not get cut
His secret to success?
No ‘pop’ – aka ‘soda’ for American beverage consumers – coupled with little-to-no fast food consumption and working out in Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba’s basement.
Simple adjustments that seem to have the 22-year-old blueliner continuing in the right direction to earning a regular NHL roster spot and hopefully provide more offensive production and defensive consistency for the Hurricanes this season.
“I think it was just something stressed to me at the end of last year, that I needed to come in leaner and faster,” Fleury concluded.
“It was just something I worked on over the summer, and I think it’s paid off – it ended up being something like 13 to 15 pounds (difference), I think. I’m definitely noticing it on the ice.”
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport