Carolina Hurricanes Quarterly Grades: Defense and Goaltending

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 15: Jaccob Slavin #74 of the Carolina Hurricanes skates after the puck during a 2-0 Hurricanes win over the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on October 15, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 15: Jaccob Slavin #74 of the Carolina Hurricanes skates after the puck during a 2-0 Hurricanes win over the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on October 15, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Carolina Hurricanes have now passed the quarter point of the season and sit at third in the Metropolitan division with 27 points. With that, 24 players have donned the sweater since the start of the season.

There has been some really outstanding players for the Hurricanes and some that have basically fallen flat. While this isn’t to say where they will end up later on in the season, these grades are just to help see where the different players currently stand. With that, we will start with our assessment of the defensive side of the Canes’ through the team’s first 21 games using a simple five star system. Five being the highest and one being the lowest.

{Name (Games Played [Goals-Assists]/[Save Percentage])}


Jaccob Slavin (21GP 2-10)

Slavin is an elite defensemen. There is no question about it. Defensively, Slavin may be one of the best in the league. He is also generating more and more offense alongside defensive partner Dougie Hamilton, leading the team in both relative Corsi (4.3) and Fenwick (6.6) percentage, meaning that the team generates the most offense and gives up the least amount of shots when he is on the ice.

Dougie Hamilton (21GP 9-14)

The new power play one quarterback, Hamilton has absolutely gone on a tear since the beginning of the season and he has hardly slowed down. With nine goals and 23 points, Hamilton currently leads all NHL defensemen in goals and is tied for second in points. Hamilton also is tied for the team’s lead in points making him one of the most important parts of the Hurricanes’ offensive dynamo.


Brett Pesce (21GP 2-5)

Pesce has had a strong start to the season, not necessarily offensively, but has stepped up in a big way at the blueline. He had a career best last season playing on his offside with Justin Faulk, but now that he has moved back to the right he hasn’t seen nearly as much offensive production. However, Edmundson has been heating up and Pesce’s defensive game has been growing more and more steady so the pair has started to find success as Pesce focuses more on shutdown defense.


Petr Mrazek (14GP 0.907)

Mrazek has had a solid start to the season. A 10-3-1 record with only one loss at home has proven to be great for the Hurricanes. Mrazek is not elite, but his goaltending is good enough to keep the team afloat and winning. The Canes are dominant enough in Corsi and defense to offput the occasional shots Mrazek lets slide through, but if he tightens up his game, it could spell an even better run for the Hurricanes.

Joel Edmundson (21GP 2-4)

Edmundson started off the season a bit rough. He was playing decently, being a good shot blocker and penalty killer, but it seemed that he bit too much into the new found freedom that the Canes’ bench allows the defensemen. Edmundson was making a lot of questionable pinches early, but he has really solidified his game paired with Brett Pesce. Now on a four-game point streak, Edmundson is turning up another side of his game that is a definite plus.

Haydn Fleury (13GP 2-2)

Haydn Fleury scored two goals. It’s a weird turn of fortune that the Canes should run with. He is growing, let him make mistakes. He has shown brilliance and will be a lot cheaper than TvR come the offseason especially as an RFA. Carrying seven defensemen takes away too much playing time from whichever doesn’t get to play and moving one or the other is really the only solution and the best for both.


Jake Gardiner (21GP 1-5)

One of the newest members of the Hurricanes’ blueline, Gardiner has seemed to struggle to adapt to the Canes’ system. Quarterbacking power play two, Gardiner has been able to move the puck, but not well enough. Gardiner hasn’t developed the chemistry for threading passes to the rest of the unit and seems slow walking the line. Hamilton took a while before he started to produce, so it may be only a matter of time for Gardiner, but the revolving door of partners definitely doesn’t help him.

James Reimer (8GP 0.903)

Part of this isn’t fair to Reimer as it seems that a different team plays in front of him every night, but he stole a win recently in Minnesota showing he is capable of big games. He is capable of winning and can play well in front of a team that does a lot to make his job easier. Part of Reimer’s issues lies in rebound control and puck tracking and those are the areas he needs to address.

Trevor van Riemsdyk (11GP 0-2)

Trevor van Riemsdyk seemed like one of the Canes’ best defensemen in the playoffs before his injury. Now, in his return, van Riemsdyk has struggled to really claim the final spot and has become the latest victim of the crowded blueline along with Haydn Fleury. He hasn’t been great and is relatively similar to Fleury but will cost more to keep in the long run. TvR is a hard worker and was great for the playoffs, but the business of the team should dictate moving him.


There really hasn’t been any defensive member of the Hurricanes that has hurt the team enough to be given only a single star after the quarter point. Consider that a plus.