Case For/ Case Against: The Checkers Blue Line

First of all, good luck to the Checkers today in Norfolk.  They face a brand new Admirals squad full of Anaheim Ducks prospects.  (Side note: As one who works in the theater with dancers and actors, I always feel like I should tell the team to “Break a leg” or in ballet terms, say “merde” but alas, I will stick to “Good Luck!” in terms of hockey!

Part two of the case for/case against is here!  A quick analysis of all of the defenseman on the Checkers roster, and what their overall pros and cons are in regards to making the AHL squad out of  camp.

There are a lot of forwards… it might take me years to sift through them all, so don’t expect that post for a couple more days!

So… which defensemen do you think will make the Checkers squad?  I’d say at a minimum, the team will keep seven players, but with such a deep talent pool, eight is a definite possibility as well.  I think it’s going to boil down to four or five guys fighting for the last two spots!

 

DEFENSEMEN

Brett Bellemore

The Case For:

  • Bellemore has completed three full seasons in the Hurricanes AHL organization.  Prior to that, he was a member of the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers.
  • A stay-at-home defenseman, he has been paired primarily with Michal Jordan for the past two season, and spends a great deal of time on the penalty kill, and leads all Checkers defensemen in short-handed assists.
  • He’s reliable and consistent, both of which are incredibly valuable traits to the Checkers.
The Case Against:

  • Bellemore has been a consistent, reliable defensive e force in the organization since his first full pro year.  He doesn’t have the flash and scoring of some prospects, but his consistency will continue to benefit him.

 

Justin Faulk

The Case For:

  • Faulk’s resume includes an NCAA title his rookie year at the University of Minnesota – Duluth, a trip to the AHL Eastern Conference Finals the same year with the Charlotte Checkers, and most recently, being named to the NHL All-Rookie team in 2012.
  • Faulk is still incredibly young at only 20 years old.  As the youngest Hurricane during the 2011-12 season, he led the team in ice time.
The Case Against:

  • The only reason that would prevent Faulk from playing for the Checkers this season is if the lockout ends and he ends up in the NHL. Since the NHL schedule has been cancelled until October 24, I’d expect Faulk in a Checkers sweater until at least then.

Marc-Andre Gragnani

The Case For:

  • Gragnani is a four-year veteran of the AHL, and completed his first full season in the NHL last year with Vancouver and Buffalo.
  • An offensive defenseman, during the Sabres playoff run in 2011, he led all skaters with seven points.
  • During much of Checkers training camp, he’s been paired with Justin Faulk, a duo that I would expect to do great things together.
The Case Against:

  • Along with Hurricanes prospects Ryan Murphy and Bobby Sanguinetti, Gragnani was expected to fight for a spot on the NHL roster in Raleigh.  With the NHL lockout continuing, Gragnani’s immediate future seems to be locked in Charlotte.

Continue reading

The one about game # 80

Quick thoughts about game 80 for the Charlotte Checkers.

 

  • First, and most importantly, the Checkers defeated the Sharks by a score of 6-2. They finished the season with 97 points, and a record of 44-27-2-7.  Not bad for a first-year franchise!!!

 

  • Bobby Goepfert got the start in net.  This is something I DEFINITELY think was a good idea.  With Mike Murphy’s return to the team being uncertain, Goepfert needs ice time.  As every Checkers fan knows, Justin Pogge has had plenty of games that required him to be pulled (two of which were against Hershey, by the way) and we’ve got to have confidence in our netminder AND the back-up going into the playoffs.

 

  • On the radio/TV feed they were talking about watching Jared Staal develop this season.  How can we consider this a development year?  Maybe when he was in Ft. Meyers and actually getting ice time, but for the past month he’s sat in the press box in Charlotte, where his hair grew longer and longer as the time from his last game did as well.  If he’s not ready for the AHL, I can understand that.  I just don’t get why he’s in Charlotte if he’s not playing.  The only reason he played last night, I assume, is to rest some of our regulars.

 

  • Speaking of our regulars, three were NOT in the lineup last night.  Bryan Rodney, Zack Fitzgerald and Nick Blanchard all had the night off. I do not have any information as to whether they were injured, or just being rested.  I assume the latter.

 

  • Defenseman Rasmus Rissanen played in his first AHL game tonight.  He was a +1, and had three SOG.  Not bad for his first time in the lineup!

 

  • Chris Terry scored his 34th goal of the season.  He’s currently third in goals scored in the AHL, and 34 is twice the number of goals he had last season as a rookie in Albany.

 

  • On a disappointing note, the Carolina Hurricanes lost tonight 6-2.  The loss ended their season and playoff hopes.  The only positive I can see in this is that Drayson Bowman will be returned to Charlotte and available for the playoffs.  The Florida Everblades also lost, 5-3, finishing their first found of the playoffs vs. the Kalamazoo Wings.

 

  • The Checkers lineup saw a number of players not on the Clear Day list, including Jared Staal, Cedric McNicoll, and Bobby Goepfert.  Rasmus Rissanen, while not on the clear day list, is eligible as a junior player who’s season is finished.  As long as Mike Murphy is injured, Goepfert is eligible to dress and play in all playoff games.

 

And… be excited Chasing Checkers fans (I have some fans, right?)  I spent some time designing a VERY special playoff logo for the first-round matchup.  Expect to see it’s debut in the next couple of days!

 

Go Checkers!

The one about Rasmus Rissanen signing with the Hurricanes

The Hurricanes announced today that they signed Defenseman Rasmus Rissanen to a three-year entry level contract.

Friend of Chasing Checkers posted a blog about him a couple of weeks ago…. you can re-read it HERE.

Rissanen was the Hurricane’s 2009 sixth round draft pick, and has spent the past two seasons with the Everett Silvertips of the WHL.

As with most end-of-year junior player signings, I would assume he will report to Charlotte.  Although he is only 19, since his junior season is completed, he is eligible to play in the AHL, and can be an additional name to the Checkers clear day list.