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Six More Years for Faulk

Monday, 03.24.2014 / 2:00 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Six More Years for Faulk

In three short seasons, Justin Faulk has proven himself to be a key member of the Carolina Hurricanes defensive corps and one of the preeminent young defensemen in the National Hockey League.

Michael Smith
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On Monday morning, the Canes put that notion in writing, signing Faulk to a six-year, $29 million contract extension.

“That was an important signing because he showed very early in his career how good a defenseman he was. That was confirmed by his selection to the U.S. Olympic team at a very young age,” Hurricanes President and General Manager Jim Rutherford said. “He’s really been a consistent performer on defense over the last three years and will continue to be for several years.”

“It’s pretty exciting,” Faulk said. “I’m happy to be here for another six years. I think we have a pretty good group of guys here, a good core of guys to build off of. If you look at our team, it’s a good team to be a part of and good guys to have around. I think it’s just going to keep getting better from here on out.”

The deal inks Faulk, who celebrated his 22nd birthday just last week, through the 2019-20 season with an average salary cap figure of $4.833 million.

“Certainly with what Justin has done, there was some concern with the way our system works now that there could be an offer sheet, so it was important to get him done prior to getting to that stage,” Rutherford said.

“I think Jim [Rutherford] said it pretty good. He said, ‘You won’t have to worry about this one for a long time now,’” Faulk said. “It’s nice and relaxing that you don’t have to worry about it for six more years.”

In 169 career NHL games, Faulk has posted 61 points (16g, 45a), including 24 points (3g, 21a) in 65 games this season. Faulk ranks second on the Canes in average ice time per game with 23:21, only behind defensive partner Andrej Sekera. He regularly matches up against opponents’ top lines and skates in all situations.

“He’s young, but he’s gaining experience quickly in the amount of games he’s getting and the minutes he’s playing. His maturity level has given him an opportunity to grown in those roles,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “He’s out there killing penalties, playing against the best players, key roles for a young defenseman like that. The experience he’s gaining, he’s learning from it and improving on all those areas.”

Even as a young defenseman, the Canes have eyed the South St. Paul, Minn., native as someone around which to build the team defense.

“Yes. He’s one of them,” Rutherford said. “Certainly Sekera is another, but we’ll get to his future at a time that we can as far as his contract is concerned.”

At just 21 years of age, Faulk was one of the youngest U.S. Olympians to play on the men’s hockey team since the NHL began sending its players to the tournament in 1998. Faulk skated in just under 10 minutes in two games with the U.S. national team, as they earned a fourth-place finish in the tournament.

“Being a part of the Olympics was a great experience for him, I’m sure,” Muller said. “He’s just getting better and better and more confident as a young defenseman.”

Now Faulk has his sights set on the playoffs, something that eluded him in his first two NHL seasons and is a fading hope in the third.

“It’s something you want to be a part of. It’s not fun going home at the end of the season and watching on TV,” Faulk said. “I’ll be at home with my buddies watching the Stanley Cup playoff games, and they’ll be like, ‘What are you doing?’ And I’m sitting there just checking things on my phone, playing a game or something. It’s definitely something you want to be a part of more so than watching, so it’s something I’m looking forward to getting the opportunity to play in.”

And he sees that opportunity within the Canes locker room – a place he will call home for the next six years.

“I think that’s our main goal. You look around, there’s quite a few guys who are pretty darn good players, I think. It’s definitely a good group to start with. I think we are pretty close. We do have the right group of guys in here, I think,” Faulk said. “To be able to try to build off that and be a part of that for six more years and see where we can get this team to be, where we all think we can be and try to get to that point, is something I think that’s going to be pretty fun and enjoyable.”



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81