The part about the schedule:
I had this whole post written about my theory on what the Checkers schedule matrix is going to look like, and what my dream matrix would be. Briefly, my theory is we’ll play our midwestern opponents 8 times each, everyone else in the west four times, leaving 12 games vs. Eastern conference teams, which would probably be four each vs. Norfolk, Hershey and Wilkes-Barre. So that is my prediction, anyway.
Of course, if I was in a dream/fantasy schedule world, we’d still play the midwest 8 times each, some of the west 4 times each, but maybe not everyone, leaving us more options for Eastern teams to include teams like Springfield (selfishly, I love that organization) and Binghamton, because a good rivalry formed during the playoffs last year. I’d also REALLY like the excuse to visit St. John’s, Newfoundland, so maybe in my fantasy world we should play them too, though I know that isn’t going to happen since a St. John’s newspaper reporter has already leaked their schedule matrix.
The part about veteran leadership
Anyway, in my previous post that took a lot longer to explain and go into, but I have bigger fish to fry today. And that is the topic of AHL free agency, and how I’m getting VERY impatient with the Checkers and Hurricanes, because I’m anxious to see what the rest of our roster is going to look like.
Yet unsigned RFA’s include Brett Sutter and Bobby Sanguinetti, though I am not particularly worried about either of these going unsigned.
I am desperate for the Checkers to sign a veteran defenseman. I really feel this is going to be a key to the development of our incredibly young group of blue liners. Every time I see another NHL or AHL club announce a signing, I cringe a little bit more, because I want to see the Checkers make that kind of an announcement. I think our prospects are phenomenal, but they need a couple more key guys to round out the squad.
Today, Columbus announced they had signed the AHL Man of the Year Cody Bass (he beat out a much more deserving candidate for this award, I might add, our own Mike Murphy!). Teams like Springfield and Hershey have been loading up on the veteran AHL talent, but that is typically what a squad like Hershey does (and has to be a big part of why they let a guy like Sheldon Souray play for them last year, despite stories of him being a cancer to young guys in the room in Edmonton).
Now clearly, we don’t have a lot of room to spare on our AHL roster, because Carolina has very effectively used the Checkers as a development squad, which is something I fully support, but I still think we have holes. The Hurricanes signed Justin Soryal, who will likely play in Charlotte and take on an enforcer-type role that Zack FitzGerald played last season, but we STILL need defense, and someone who has more than a season or two under their bed in the A.
Jonathan Bomboulie has a pretty great chart of the best AHL free agents on the market, and if you notice, most of them have been signed elsewhere.
I know I’ve mentioned him before, and I keep hearing he might be headed back to Europe, but if the Checkers signed Andre Benoit…. I don’t know what I’d do I’d be so excited (I do have a blank Checkers jersey, one that could EASILY be customized with his name and number!). But Benoit is a proven leader. He had successful call-ups with Ottawa last season. He’s worn the A for two AHL Calder Cup winning teams. He’s offensively minded, speedy, and fun to watch on the ice. He’d look fantastic in a Checkers sweater!
Another notables from Bomboulie’s list include another long-time favorite of mine in Danny Syvret. He captained the London Knight’s to a championship(alongside teammates Corey Perry and Bryan Rodney), and has worn a letter in a few different AHL cities during his time with Edmonton, Philadelphia and Anaheim’s minor league squads.
I know, I’m probably beating a dead horse begging for a veteran blue liner, but I’m anxious. Blame the fact it’s 110 degrees outside (or something close to that) and the hockey season seems way too far away for me to fathom, when in reality that first game in Charlotte is only 74 days away, when the Canes face the Jets, and camp is even earlier than that in Raleigh (which, of course, I WILL be attending, unlike prospect conditioning camp, which I missed due to a Broadway show at my theater!)
I guess only time will tell what happens to our blue line in Charlotte, but I have the utmost confidence in our organization(s) that I’m sure it will be a good thing!
A few quick hits:
- Canes Country, the definitive site for Canes news, has some GREAT stuff on prospect camp, and players who may end up in Charlotte in the very near future. Definitely check it out!
- Zac Dalpe had a GREAT piece about him in the Brantford newspaper. He tweeted yesterday that his team won the Walter Gretzky golf tournament.
- Brett Sutter pled guilty to a misdemeanor for a cabbie fight last year in Phoenix. He and Patrick Kane should compare stories, I think! I bet Kane has more than two cents to say about his incident (more like $0.20, I’d guess!) He has to go back to court in September. Phoenix is NOT a place I’d want to be caught doing something if I was a professional athlete. Anyone remember Kurt Busch or Nikolai Khabibulin and their DUI situations? The jails in Maricopa County are some of the scariest in the country!