While I’m in Raleigh covering the Hurricanes game, my focus will continue to be on that of the prospects and former and future Checkers. It’s a sticky thing to cover… I want to focus on these guys who will probably be spending another season in the AHL in Charlotte, but at the same time, right now they are Hurricanes, and deserve every chance to make the big squad! With this in mind, here are my thoughts on the names most familiar to Charlotte Checkers fans!
Tonight, the Hurricanes take the ice for their second preseason game, and their first home game in Raleigh.
Monday, the Hurricanes lost in Buffalo. Notable 2010-11 Checkers included Zach Boychuk, Zac Dalpe, Jon Matsumoto, Drayson Bowman, Justin Faulk and Jerome Samson. All of these players have made it through the first rounds of Hurricanes cuts, and remain on the training camp roster.
With so few preseason games, and as many as 60 players vying for NHL roster spots, each game is filled with pressure for the younger players to prove they have what it takes. For many guys who will play in Charlotte this year, they may only get one game with the Hurricanes to prove themselves.
Tonight, Chris Terry, Brett Sutter, and Riley Nash are getting their first shot in the lineup, and making up the majority of the third and fourth lines. Justin Peters, Faulk, Boychuk and Bowman return for their second straight game.
Forward lines and defense pairings, per Michael Smith:
Ponikarovsky – Staal – Jokinen
Skinner – Ruutu – Stewart
Terry – Brent – Boychuk
Brett Sutter – Nash – Bowman
Pitkanen – Gleason
Kaberle – McBain
Faulk – Murphy
Tonight’s game against Nashville is of special interest to Checkers fans because the Predators are the parent club of the Milwaukee Admirals, and one of our Midwest Division rivals. Ryan at the Admirals Roundtable shared a few players to watch in terms of future AHL talent.
The “Who will make the Predators roster” players to watch include Forward Craig Smith and Defenseman Ryan Ellis. Both have a shot at cracking the Predators regular-season roster, but may end up playing in Milwaukee.
Other future Admirals to watch include Chris Mueller, Gabriel Bourque and Juuso Puustinen. Mueller played in Milwaukee last season, and has had a very strong camp but all signs point to him playing in Milwaukee this season.
Camp bits and pieces:
- Tonight, Cam Ward is expected to start in net, with Justin Peters backing him up. Ward is expected to play on Sunday in Charlotte, and since this is Peters second appearance, I am hopeful Mike Murphy gets the call Sunday for the home crowd at TWCA.
- Following the morning skate, Hurricanes Coach Paul Maurice stated that the Hurricanes defenseman all came to camp in great shape and very strong. This makes the competition even more fierce for blueline roster spots. Currently, there are about eight or nine guys vying for spots, with seven under contract at the NHL level. The top two lines all played together in Raleigh last season, with newcomer Tomas Kaberle added to the group during the offseason.
- Ryan Murphy and Justin Faulk are both fighting to make the Hurricanes squad. They will be paired together for the second-straight preseason game tonight.
- If you haven’t heard about the banana peel incident in London, ON last night, prepare to be disgusted. A fan threw one at Wayne Simmonds during the Flyers/Red Wings exhibition game. I was shocked and disgusted at this blatant exhibit of racism and offensive behavior by a fan. Chip Alexander has more on the Canes reaction to the event.
- The Hurricanes made six more roster cuts yesterday. They had previously sent most junior players back to their respective CHL teams. Yesterday, Defensemen Brett Bellemore, Kyle Lawson and Chris Murray, forwards Matt Pistilli and Justin Soryal, and goaltender John Muse were all assigned to the Charlotte Checkers, in time for AHL camp to begin on Monday.
- I would anticipate another large cut tomorrow in regards to the AHL players, and possibly another one following the exhibition game on Sunday in Charlotte.
- Go check out the new Checkers website! It’s awesome!!! A really slick re-desgn.
- HOCKEY HOCKEY HOCKEY this weekend. Checkers/Hurricanes Fanfest tomorrow at the Epicenter, and Sunday the Hurricanes game in Charlotte!