You’ve probably heard by now: Justin Faulk
will represent the Carolina Hurricanes in Columbus at the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend.
We got his reaction shortly after the announcement was made on Saturday evening, but what do his teammates have to say? We canvassed the locker room to round up some reaction.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the overwhelming consensus was that he was a no-brainer choice for the All-Star Game.
“He’s been real solid and a contributor at both ends of the ice. He plays against the top players and is also producing a lot offensively,” Eric Staal said. “He’s got a bright future ahead of him if he keeps doing what he’s doing.”
“He’s having an awesome season. He logs some huge minutes for us playing against the top players each and every night,” Riley Nash said. “I think him and Reggie are playing really well together. Even offensively, he’s putting up quite a few points. He’s one of our leaders on the team. I’d like to say it’s because I moved in with him and we’re living together, but it’s probably the other way around.”
“He’s got a lot of skill, and he’s coming around offensively,” fellow defenseman Brett Bellemore said. “He’s one of the top scorers on the team.”
It’s true. Faulk leads team defensemen in goals (7) and points (24). He also ranks first on the team in assists (17) and second on the team in scoring. His two shorthanded goals rank first on the team and first among all NHL defensemen.
And he’s still just 22 years old.
“Doing it at the age he is – I don’t even know how hold he is, 22 or 23? – and he plays like he’s been in the league for 10 or 15 years already,” Nash said. “It’s nice to watch.”
“He’s still very young, and he’s still got so much of his career left,” Bellemore said. “He’s fun to watch, especially being so talented this young in his career.”
“It’s quite a deserving accomplishment for a 22-year-old guy. He’s got Olympic experience under his belt, and now he has his first NHL All-Star,” head coach Bill Peters said. “I think he’s had a good year, but I think he’s got a lot of room for growth and a high ceiling.”
It’s not known yet on which team Faulk will play or in which Skills Competition event or events Faulk will participate. After clocking a 95.9 mph shot in the Hardest Shot Competition as a rookie in 2012, Faulk could get a chance to best that number.
He does, after all, have one of the hardest shot in the Canes’ room.
“Yes,” Staal said. “Well, him and Sems (Semin) probably are the two hardest.”
“He’s got one of them,” Nash said. “When he unloads, it’s pretty hard.”
“It’s definitely not me. It’s probably him,” Bellemore said. “Sems has got a nice little snapper that’s quick, too, but Faulk has a lot of power behind his shot.”
Staal has empirical evidence: he was on the unfortunate receiving end of a Faulk slapper late in the game on Dec. 7 against Detroit. He was slow to skate to the bench and seemed to exhibit some after-effects for a few weeks.
“Judging by the one I took off my ankle, it definitely seems a bit harder,” Staal said. “If he does that event again, he’ll get to test that theory.”
Can Faulk eclipse 100 mph?
“He’d be close. I think he’s getting a little older. Might be slowing down a little bit. All those minutes might take their toll,” Nash joked. “I’d love to see him crack 100, but it makes it a little scarier going in front of the net.”
Jesting aside, the Canes are pleased to be represented on the league’s stage by No. 27.
“He’s going to be an anchor for this team for a long time, and that’s key. A big congrats to him,” Staal said. “I’m excited for him to enjoy that opportunity, and we’re lucky to have him with this squad.”