Rebels Fleury, Bleackley hear their names called in the first round
Red Deer Rebels defenceman Haydn Fleury might not create a storm for the Carolina Hurricanes any time soon, but the NHL club is willing to wait for their first-round pick — seventh overall — in Friday’s NHL entry draft to make some noise.
“We’ll take a closer look at him,” Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis told the Raleigh NewsObserver, regarding the possibility of Fleury attending the ‘Canes’ main camp in September after participating in the club’s prospects conditioning camp in July. “Certainly we don’t want to rush him at this point.”
Fleury’s Red Deer teammate, forward Conner Bleackley, was selected 23rd overall by the Colorado Avalanche.
The Hurricanes were considering taking a forward at No. 7, but instead opted for Fleury, who they felt was the best player available.
“Our guys really liked him,” said Francis. “He’s a very big, mobile defenceman. He has a lot of upside. We were very pleased that he was sitting there at No. 7 when we were picking.”
Francis told the NewsObserver that the ‘Canes were also impressed with Fleury’s poise during an interview at the recent NHL draft combine.
“He’s just a very mature kid, very solid,” said the ‘Canes GM.
“He’s not overly physical but he’s a very good skater,” Tony MacDonald, the ‘Canes’ director of amateur scouting told the NewsObserver prior to the draft. “He can go back and get the puck and make the good first pass, and he had 46 points last season. His offensive game is evolving.”
For his part, Fleury was ecstatic to hear his name called early in the draft.
“It’s an unreal experience, and I’m very excited to be in Carolina,” he told Michael Smith of carolinahurricanes.com. “It’s a pretty special day for my family.”
Fleury admitted he was honoured and somewhat intimidated to be on the draft stage with former NHL greats Francis and ‘Canes assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour.
“It was absolutely surreal. Having Rod Brind’Amour call my name and Ron Francis being up there was unbelievable,” said Fleury.
Bleackley was welcomed to the Avalanche by team stars Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene, both via Twitter.
“Welcome to the team @Bleacks9! Enjoy the weekend and see you at camp,” tweeted Landeskog.
Added Duchene: “Welcome to Denver @Bleacks9 ! Great to have you.”