The Hurricanes have taken defensemen in the first round in three of the last five drafts (Haydn Fleury, Noah Hanifin, and Jake Bean) and have amassed plenty of depth at that position in recent years. Speaking with Lauren K. Ohnesorge of the Triangle Business Journal (subscription required), team owner Thomas Dundon indicated that the team will not be drafting blueliners with their top picks as long as he’s in charge:
“We won’t be drafting defense in the first round as long as I’m here. I’ve got to have more offense. I want to lose 5-4, not 2-1. If we lose 5-4, I’ll have fun at least.”
Considering Carolina’s defensive depth, it’s certainly understandable that they wouldn’t be looking to take a rearguard early on for a few years at least but it’s rare that anyone would come out and make a proclamation regarding draft strategy like this. It will be interesting to see if the Hurricanes instead look to stockpile some extra picks later in the draft to use on defenders or if they simply look to fill those spots through trades and free agency down the road.
Elsewhere in the East:
- It appears that Senators defenseman Christian Jaros will be staying up for the rest of the season as he indicated to Craig Medaglia of the teams’ website that he has been told to find a more permanent place to stay and move out of the hotel he had been staying at since being recalled in October. The 22-year-old has been with Ottawa for most of the season, playing in 23 games thus far while averaging a little over 13 minutes a night on their third pairing.
- Although Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek hasn’t played in nearly a month, the team doesn’t plan to ask him to go for a conditioning stint, notes Joe Smith of The Athletic (subscription required). The 24-year-old, who was previously made available for a trade, can’t go to the minors on a full-time without clearing through waivers, a risk Tampa Bay clearly doesn’t want to take but a conditioning stint of up to two weeks is allowed if the player agrees to it. With Anton Stralman nearing a return from his lower-body injury, Koekkoek’s path to playing time will likely get even tougher so it wouldn’t be surprising if the team has a change of heart on a conditioning stint sooner than later.