- Category: Fantasy Hockey Cage Match
I'm rarely smitten on the first viewing of a prospect but Hurricanes prospect Justin Faulk has me head over heels. He absolutely oozes star potential. He plays the game with the bravado that cannot be taught. It will only take you one look to realize he is a future star.
The first thing you will notice is that Faulk plays a very aggressive game. He is undersized at 5'11" 200 lbs. but has a very stocky build and attacks the game like a pitbull. On offense he is extremely aggressive with the way he jumps into the rush and pinches in the offensive zone. Defensively he really loves to play the body. Whether he is laying a big hit or battling in the corners, Faulk is not the least bit shy. Faulk's calling card is his pro-calibre shot that has been loosely compared to that of Al Macinnis.
On the downside Faulk is still quite raw and thus a few years from making an impact. While quite intelligent with his offensive reads he still needs to work on his passing skills. He is at his most effective rushing the puck up ice himself or without the puck in the offensive zone, rather using his smarts to find the open areas where he can receive the pass and uncork his shot. Defensively he still needs a lot of work but he is already vastly improved after his first season of college hockey.
Regardless, you shouldn't be too concerned with his defensive play. Faulk is the epitome of offensive defenseman, which should be music to your ears. And frankly, if the Hurricanes can employ Joe Corvo then they won't have much trouble utilizing Faulk, who is at worst a Corvo clone. At his best however, Faulk compares favourably to Dan Boyle, a fellow right-shooting defenseman. Faulk even makes the comparison himself.
At 5'11" 190 lbs. Boyle was a trailblazer for stocky puck rushing defensemen like Faulk. Before Boyle players like Faulk would go undrafted and left to fight for an NHL contract. Now we see Faulk getting drafted 37th overall and virtually guaranteed of an NHL contract when he leaves school.
Beyond stature and playing style Faulk even compares well with Boyle statistically. In his freshman season at Miami University, Boyle scored eight goals and 26 points in 35 games. Faulk registered a nearly identical stat line scoring eight goals and 27 points in 35 games, in this his freshman season.
Faulk has however bested Boyle gaining recognition making the WCHA third and all-rookie teams. He has also been blessed to compete internationally for the US, scoring one goal and three assists in seven games at the 2010 U18's and following that up with one goal and three assist in six games at the 2011 World Junior Championships.
Go out and grab Faulk right away because I'm absolutely convinced he is going to be a star and he won't remain a secret much longer. Expect him to continue along a Boyle-esque progression as he continues at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and look for him to be a big star for the US at next year's WJC.
Comparison: Dan Boyle
Upside: 20 goals 60 points
ETA: 2-3 years