Birthdate: July 8, 1996
2013-14 Team: Red Deer Rebels (Western Hockey League)
From: Carlyle, Saskatchewan
Corey Pronman (ESPN): 10
Craig Button (TSN): 7
Hockey Prospect: 13
Bob McKenzie (TSN): 10
Stats (from the WHL’s website):
Fleury had eight goals, 38 assists and 46 points in 70 games this season. He is No. 9 among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters and the No. 2 defenseman, behind Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts. He was a top-10 pick in all three of NHL.com’s most recent mock drafts.
“I compare him to a Jay Bouwmeester type since he makes it look so easy in your own end,” Central Scouting’s Peter Sullivan said of Fleury. “He can carry it out or with one pass you’re on the transition and that’s what makes him so effective. His points might not be as high as some of the other defensemen on the board, but he just does so many other things well.”
Central Scouting’s B.J. MacDonald also has liked what he’s seen from Fleury.
“He’s got good, strong mobility, great vision and has a knack for making that first good outlet pass,” MacDonald said. “He’s composed and calm with the puck and has an ability of knowing when to join the rush at the right moments.”
— NHL.com’s Aaron Vickers
The comparisons to Bouwmeester are natural with Fleury, as he’s a tall, smooth-skating defenseman. Another wrinkle to his game that we saw from the highlights is his willingness to play the body. As a 6-foot-3 guy playing in the Western Hockey League, it’s not that difficult to be a physical force. But in the NHL, he might be less willing to play that type of game.
He seems to do a pretty good job manning the power play and has a penchant to carry the puck quickly up ice, even if his point totals were underwhelming. That’s a huge asset to have in today’s NHL, where it’s all about moving the puck with speed and keeping possession when you have it. Someone like Fleury would seem to be a good fit on the Toronto Maple Leafs because he looks very dangerous on the counterattack. Add him to a young core that includes Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly and your talking about three guys who can make the opposition pay with their wheels.
As the consensus second-ranked defenseman in the 2014 NHL Draft after Aaron Ekblad, Fleury is likely to go in the top 10 or shortly thereafter, depending on team needs. After a short perusal of Internet mock drafts, I’ve seen Fleury projected to go eighth to the Leafs, 11th to the Nashville Predators, 12th to the Phoenix Coyotes and 13th to the Washington Capitals. I still think the Leafs should go with a forward, but if none of the players they’re high on are available, Fleury is a pretty darn good Plan B.