Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin, in the span of two seasons, has become one of the NHL’s top young defensemen.
The validation of this fact arrived on Wednesday, when the Hurricanes gave the 23-year-old blueliner a seven-year contract extension with an average annual value of $5.3 million beginning in 2018-19 – a contract that, by the end of this term and given his trajectory, could be grand larceny.
“Jaccob is one of the cornerstones of our team moving forward, and it was important to secure him with our organization long term,” said GM Ron Francis. “We believe he is one of the top young defensemen in the NHL today, and are thrilled that he and his wife, Kylie, have made their home in Raleigh.”
Slavin, a Colorado native, led the team in blocked shots (161), takeaways (83) and ice time per game (23:26) last season. His plus-23 was the fourth-highest in franchise history, which probably says as much about the Hurricanes as it does Slavin, but nonetheless impressive.
His 0.41 points per game was second to Justin Faulk among Hurricanes defensemen, playing mostly along side 22-year-old Brett Pesce. He led the Hurricanes in shorthanded ice time, but was relegated to the second unit on the power play.
As Dimiti Filipovic notes, he’s taken 10 penalties in 3,243 minutes in his career. THAT’S LADY BYNG MATERIAL, SON!
Not bad for the 120th overall pick in 2012.
Chip Alexander of the News & Observer had a great ‘anatomy of draft pick’ piece about Slavin last month, as the Hurricanes actually used a pick acquired from the New Jersey Devils for Alexei Ponikarovsky to select him.
Former Devils director of player personnel Bert Marshall, a scout for the Hurricanes, was a champion for Slavin in the Carolina war room.
“Yeah, he was a rail, but you could tell he had the right instincts for the game, and I’m a firm believer in that,” Marshall told Alexander. “If you don’t have a good feel for the game, you can’t play. The game is so fast. Make a mistake positionally and it can be a two-on-one against. You need that headiness. “The good players, it’s part of their DNA. With Jaccob, you could see it. He had it.”
(Francis said Marshall had a knack for drafting defensemen, and as Devils director of player personnel he made Ken Daneyko a first-rounder. Of course, in the same draft, he had one of the all-time greatest draft whiffs in Rocky Trottier. Throw enough spaghetti at the wall and some is bound to stick, right?)
Slavin’s an interesting guy beyond his “diamond in the rough” draft position. He’s a devout Christian, helping out with local children’s ministries and not exactly being shy about his beliefs on social media.
— Jaccob Slavin (@Jslavin74) February 8, 2017
As Cardiac Canes pointed out, Slavin would be mentioned in the same breath as a guy like Aaron Ekblad if he played in a different market, or on a better team. He’s a rock solid defensive defenseman who also puts up points.
He’s a foundational part of the foundation of the Hurricanes: a blueline featuring Faulk (signed through 2020 at a cut-rate $4.834 million annually), Noah Hanifin (three years younger, and an RFA next summer), Pesce, Trevor van Riemsdyk and (one assumes) Klas Dahlbeck. All of them are 26 or younger. This is a group Francis could keep together for the next three years, or trade from a position of strength for a position of need. (A scoring center, por favor.)
There isn’t a person associated with the NHL that doesn’t feel the forward momentum of the Hurricanes, not only in what they have on the roster now but what’s on the way. (Julien Gauthier, for one.) Yes, they have needs before making the leap (repetir: a scoring center, por favor). But they’re on the way.
This is the kind of move that doesn’t just lead to success, but sustained success. Kudos to Francis for closing the deal.
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