A few quick hits:
- Justin Shugg and Mike McKenzie were sent to Florida today. McKenzie is on an AHL contract with the Checkers, and Shugg is in his first year of an Entry Level deal with the Hurricanes. After his stellar performance in the preseason games this weekend, I’d hoped Shugg would make the cut.
Brett Sutter will be wearing the C this year. Newcomer (to the Checkers) Chris Durno and Nicolas Blanchard will each serve as Alternates. Watching Sutter in camp this year makes me VERY confident in Coach Daniel’s decision. I firmly believe Sutter is going to be the guy to watch on the team this year. He might not score as many goals as Zach Boychuk or Chris Terry, but there is a whole lot more to being a superstar than goals!
- Drayson Bowman has already been called up and sent back to Charlotte once, and Riley Nash was assigned to the Checkers yesterday by the Hurricanes. Both Nash and Bowman will be travelling with the Checkers to Norfolk this weekend.
- Justin Faulk remains in Raleigh with the Hurricanes. He is currently defenseman number nine on their roster. (Not in playing time/ranking, simply in the numbers game). Considering the Hurricanes typically dress only six defensemen each game, they are clearly overstaffed at that position. Ryan Murphy could be sent to his OHL team after no more than nine games, leaving them at eight, but that is still a high number. The Hurricanes can do a number of things to alleviate the number crunch at this position. They can bury one of their contracts in Charlotte (assuming the player clears waivers and remains unclaimed), but they would be paying a full contract price on an expensive blueliner. (Four of the current Hurricanes D are making over 2.5 million this season, and two are making over 4 million). The Hurricanes have always said they will not keep players in Raleigh who aren’t getting playing time, and with this in mind, I am not convinced they will carry eight or nine defenseman.
- The Hockey News printed their yearly preview of the AHL rankings. They listed the Checkers as number one in the West. While I don’t disagree completely with this assessment, their rationale was Justin Faulk, and the forwards of Jerome Samson, Zach Boychuk and Jon Matsumoto. Fellow Midwest division Peoria and Chicago were ranked 2-3, respectively, while Rockford and Milwaukee fall to 11 and 15. Milwaukee has a roster full of NHL caliber players, and finished in the West last year with the most points, so it’s a bit absurd to think they are going to fall from first to last. My friends at The Admirals Roundtable have a much better rant about it all.
- The Checkers are on a bus to Norfolk as I type this. My work schedule changed last minute, and I’m pondering a VERY last minute roadtrip to the Virginia coast. Anyone else headed to see the team play opening weekend? Games are on Friday and Saturday night at varying times between 7 and 7:30 p.m.