One pleasant surprise on the Carolina blueline last year was Jay Harrison. Many fans seemed to agree that his play was much improved from the previous season, although Hurricanes management pointed out that the defenseman was playing through an injury during much of 2009-10.
Harrison has some history with Carolina coach Paul Maurice as both were in the Toronto organization together a few years ago, so player and coach are very familiar with each other. The Oshawa native played a career high 72 games last season, (previous high was 38), and most of his stats from last season are career bests as well.
#44 / Defenseman / Carolina Hurricanes
Nov 03, 1982
|2010 - Jay Harrison||72||3||7||10||5||72||0||0||0||49|
The Good: Harrison's (plus/minus) +5 was the second highest plus/minus stat on the Hurricanes last year, behind only Brandon Sutter. He used his big body well and was pretty physical when he needed to be. The defenseman also dropped the gloves when needed and was always there for a teammate in need. He even chipped in with a few points last season, which probably can be considered a bonus.
The blueliner ended up 6th on the team in hits, (111) and 5th on the team in blocked shots, (100).
The Bad: While Harrison uses his big body well, he is a bit slow of foot and can not keep up with an opponent's top lines. He's not necessarily known as a good puck mover and can have trouble at times with the puck in his own end. He is not afraid to drop his gloves when needed, but is not necessarily known as being a good fighter. According to HockeyFights.com, he went 0-4-2 last season in his six bouts.
The Money: Last season, Harrison signed a one year deal for $500,000. He provided excellent value for that money and can probably expect some kind of raise this summer. He's an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any club on July 1, but it's expected he'll return to the Canes and fill a similar role for the team this coming season.
How would you grade Harrison's performance last season? Should the Canes bring him back for another season, and if so, how much should they sign him for?