Player: Haydn Fleury
Drafted By: Carolina Hurricanes (7th overall)
Final Central Scouting Ranking: No. 9 North American skater
Height/Weight: 6'3", 203 lbs
DOB: July 8, 1996 (17 years old)
Most Recent Affiliation: WHL, Red Deer Rebels
Haydn Fleury is an imposing defenseman with excellent puck-moving skills. He is probably the second-most talented defenseman in this draft behind Aaron Ekblad. Fleury has improved quite a bit from 2012-13 to this year, and he appears to have the kind of offensive skills that will make him an impact player at the next level. Fleury scored eight goals and 38 assists with the Rebels last season, and he also had a plus-15 rating.
Full Scouting Report
Fleury is going to make an impression right away because of his size and skating ability, and once the game starts, he has the ability to control play with the puck on his stick.
Red Deer head coach and general manager Brent Sutter has been impressed with Fleury, saying “his biggest strength is his skating ability...being able to carry the puck and get back into defensive position quickly.” Sutter said:
At the NHL level, you have to be able to move, you have to have agility, and, most importantly, you have to be able to make plays, make decisions quickly and move the puck at a high pace, and I think Haydn has continued to improve in those areas.
Fleury has the kind of vision on the ice that should allow him to make short- and medium-range passes with ease, and he can also make the stretch pass.
Defensively, he is not a physical player, but he is good with his stick, knows the shooting and passing lanes and he has quite a bit of skill when it comes to shutting opposing players down.
Scouts want to see him develop a bit more of a physical style before he gets his chance to play at the NHL level.
NHL Player Comparison
While he may turn out to be a better player in the long run, Fleury appears to be comparable to Jay Bouwmeester of the St. Louis Blues.
Like Bouwmeester, Fleury is a skilled puck-carrier who can take the puck out of his own zone and then make plays when his team is on the attack. He is also a solid defensive player, even if he is more finesse-oriented at this point in his career.
Bouwmeester is also that same kind of player for the Blues.
It usually takes longer for defensive players to move up to the NHL level. He will need at least one more year of playing at the junior level before he is ready to compete in the NHL. If he can make strides in all areas—especially his hitting—he has a chance to play in the NHL in 2015-16. Don't be surprised if it takes him until 2016-17 to reach the big time.
Fleury has the skills to be a Top-4 defenseman in the NHL, and from his likely top-10 draft position, that would indicate that he has a chance to be an All-Star player some day. However, much of that will depend on how willing he is to pick up the hitting game. He is going to have to show he can take hits and dish out effective checks if he is going to reach the highest level of play.