First of all, congratulations to the Texas Stars on their first-ever Calder Cup victory. It was a good playoffs, but I must admit I was too focused on my LA Kings winning a second Stanley Cup to follow the AHL as much as usual!
Oh, so much to report on in this off season…. from rumors of major western expansion in the AHL to places like California, the yet-to-be determined AHL realignment (and my wish for five divisions in five seasons as the Checkers looks to be coming true!), and off season moves by the Checkers and Hurricanes, there is a lot to talk about. But to keep today’s update simple, I compiled a list of all of the Checkers currently under contract, along with d those who have expired contracts and have signed elsewhere in the off season.
A few days ago, it was announced that Mike Murphy has signed in Austria for next season. Murphy is a player who I admire so much, both on and off the ice. He was the Checkers first “Man of the Year” winner in the team’s inaugural AHL season. That same year, he led the team to the Eastern Conference Finals, and has played some of the most epic games of his career for the Checkers. 2013-14 was a challenging season for Murphy between major goaltending injuries to himself and others. He will be greatly missed. I will certainly follow his team in Austria (one of my favorite European countries!).
So… about the contract situation. The Hurricanes and Checkers have a number of contracts to figure out in the coming month or so. RFA qualifying offers should go out in the very near future, and as these are released, I’ll update them here.
If you’ve been following the national sports media lately, you’ve seen lots of talk of a potential lockout for the 2012-13 NHL season. Last spring, I spent about six months at the negotiating table as a Union representative for my own CBA, so watching the much bigger profile NHL/NHLPA dealings has been pretty fascinating, and things are changing constantly. Just today, the Detroit Red Wings announced that they were cancelling their Traverse City Prospects tournament, something eight NHL teams participated in, including the Carolina Hurricanes.
A number of people have asked me how the AHL will be affected should the NHL lock it’s players out, so I figured I’d try to do my best “in a nutshell” explanation.
First and foremost, there is NO risk of the AHL losing a year due to the NHL lockout. The AHL has a separate CBA for their players with the PHPA (Professional Hockey Players Association), and that agreement doesn’t expire until August 31, 2014. The PHPA has a brief synopsis of their CBA here, or you can pay to download the full version.
So if the NHL and the NHLPA can’t agree to a new CBA and the season (or part of it) is cancelled, what will happen to the AHL?
There’s a very good chance that teams like the Checkers will have extra players. Players on two-way contracts (Chris Terry, Zach Boychuk, Brett Bellemore, etc.) will still be obligated to play in the AHL even if the NHL locks the players out. Some of the guys on the cusp of the being in the NHL full-time such as Bobby Sanguinetti, Drayson Bowman and Zac Dalpe will not have a spot to compete for in Raleigh, and will certainly end up playing in Charlotte. An excess of players in Charlotte will in turn mean even more AHL-caliber guys will be playing for the ECHL Everblades.
While it’s possible that more veteran players could choose to play in the AHL, there are strict rules that limit the number of veteran players who are eligible to play in an AHL game. (The current rule allows for five veterans out of 18 skaters, plus one “exempt” vet, which basically boils down to six veteran players). Charlotte/Carolina currently has four guys on two-way contracts that qualifiy as AHL veterans: Nic Blanchard, Brett Sutter, Marc-Andre Gragnani and Jerome Samson. This leaves room for a couple more vets, should there be any that want to sign an AHL contract for a year, but it’s unlikely that the Checkers will load up their roster with big-name NHL players.
During the last NHL lockout, Eric Staal played for the Hurricanes AHL team. The previous season he’d been a rookie in Raleigh, but without an NHL to play for, he spent a year playing for the Lowell Lock Monsters. The same could certainly happen to guys like Jeff Skinner and Justin Faulk, who are both on entry-level contracts with the Hurricanes.
Honestly though, only time will tell as to what the team in Charlotte shapes up to be. The good news is the Hurricanes organization is loaded with talent, and whether or not the NHL locks its players out, there WILL be hockey in Charlotte this fall.
Tune in tomorrow with a special report by the non-vacationing writers Tess and Haley on their thoughts regarding the new AHL schedule, which is to be released at 3 p.m. EST.
The depth of the current Checkers potential roster is pretty staggering. As we all know, a lot of things can change at Hurricanes camp in September, but as it stands right now, there is a lot of incredible talent that could end up on the ice in Charlotte. After the cut, you can see current Hurricanes and Checkers that are signed through the end of this season and beyond. What new faces are you most looking forward to seeing? What about the returning veterans? Any thoughts on who you think should wear the Checkers second “A”?
In the past week, the Checkers have signed two guys to AHL contracts. Matt Beca returns to the Checkers for the third time. He has spent most of his Checkers career in Florida with the Everblades, but spent seven games with Charlotte last winter where he had one assist. The official release is here.
David Rutherford is a former ECHL Checker and played for the Everblades last year, where he won the Kelly Cup. The previous season, he played for the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs (one of the best defunct names in hockey, second to the Macon Whoopie!) where he won the CHL championship. Here’s hoping his championship winning streak acan go to three, because I should would love a Calder Cup in Charlotte! More on Rutherford here, and you can follow him on Twitter @Rutherford91
On a personal note… I have a lot of great things in store for Chasing Checkers in the coming weeks. In a few short days, I will be on vacation in Alberta, Canada, and hope that by the time I return to the states, we’ll have an AHL schedule in hand. Be looking for the now second-annual “Get to know the Checkers new division” introductions as well. They were a lot of fun to put together last year, and a great way to learn about our new division mates and the great writers who cover the teams in Texas and Oklahoma.
Here’s the latest on who is under contract with the Carolina Hurricanes/ Charlotte Checkers and will likely spend some time at the AHL level. I have been following all of the major signings this summer, though some of the ones I am MOST anxious to read about still haven’t happened (though, I had this crazy dream that the Checkers hired a new coach who happened to be my favorite NHL player of all time… talk about a great dream to wake up to! Too bad it wasn’t true!)
Chris Terry resigned with the Hurricanes and will return for another two years (at least!). He is the all-time leading point scorer in Charlotte, and former AHL All-Star, so his skills will be appreciated by the Checkers.
This is a pretty big list of players under contract. Recent two-way signings by the Hurricanes include veterans Tim Wallace and Marc-Andre Gragnani, both of whom spent the majority of last season in the NHL and will be vying for spots many believed would belong to some of the Hurricanes prospects including Bobby Sanuinetti, Ryan Murphy, Zac Dalpe, Zach Boychuk and Drayson Bowman, just to name a few. A little competition never hurt anyone, but it will be even more interesting to see how many former Checkers are able to make the jump to the NHL level this fall, especially with how full the Hurricanes roster already is.
The Hurricanes also signed another goaltender who will likely spend the majority of the season in Florida. NCAA alum Rob Madore was signed to a two-way AHL contract by the Checkers. You can read the official release here. Madore played for the University of Vermont. With the uncertainty of Brian Boucher’s health though, the Checkers should see Madore between the pipes for at least the first couple of months of the season.
First of all, Chasing Checkers has been nominated for the 2012 Web Awards as the only hockey blog represented in Charlotte. You can vote by going to the link in the right sidebar. Voting ends in just a couple of weeks.
Not a lot of news on the AHL front since last week when the AHL announced division realignments and rule changes.
The free agent world has also been pretty quiet (and I refresh my TSN Free Agent Tracker about four times a day, so I know!) My summer has been filled with all kinds of fun things, and in case you are counting down with me, I have one month, two days and 22 hours until my Canadian vacation begins. It’s kind of hard to concentrate on actual work with such an epic adventure on the horizon! Western Alberta will never be the same after I visit!
No word on the acceptance (or pending arbitration) on any of the Hurricanes RFA’s, but I am hopeful the CheckerCanes will sign their new contracts and return to the organization.
I’m still waiting to see if the Hurricanes sign one more goaltender, as their North American players is limited to three healthy goaltenders, only two of which have NHL experience, and one injured goalie.
Great news today came out of Raleigh with the announcement that the Hurricanes had signed John Muse to a two-way NHL contract. The Hurricanes will still have to sign one more goaltender for the Checkers (and the Checkers will probably have to sign another goaltender to an AHL contract as well.)
Yesterday, the Hurricanes announced a number of significant hockey operations changes to the coaching staff and front office positions in Raleigh. There is still no word on a contract extension for Checkers coach Jeff Daniels.
Already, the roster in Charlotte is shaping up. Repeating the format I used last year, I figured I should post the latest on the Checkers contract front. I will continue to update it as things change.
Ahh, yes. Yet another post about the future of the Charlotte Checkers and who’s under contract for next season. I know I’ve done this a few times, but it’s forever changing. I rearranged everything according to position played, and mixed in the two way AHL/ECHL guys who are likely headed to the Everblades.
I’ve said it once, twice, a million times, but looking at this list, once again I feel like the biggest hole the Checkers have is on Defense. By no means am I saying I don’t like our D-men. I do, and quite a lot. I think we have great potential in guys like Faulk, Bellemore and Jordan, in particular, but I also think we have a VERY young blue line, and defense is a position that takes a lot more time to develop, and not something the Hurricanes have necessarily been known for. The Checkers are lucky to have an assistant coach (Geordie Kinnear) who played Defense during his career, plus guys like Glen Wesley who take time with the Charlotte prospects, but there is something about having a veteran on the ice with the players to mentor them.
After the Springfield Falcons hired a new defense coach for the upcoming season, Mike Commodore (yes, I know, I probably mention him too much in a blog about the Checkers, but he’s my favorite!) was recently quoted by Columbus media as being surprised that the Blue Jackets affiliate in Springfield didn’t have a coach for their young defensemen. As a member of the Falcons in 2010-11, he took on that mentor role for the younger guys on the squad, and with his departure for Detroit this year, the organization realized they would need someone for their young prospects.
I firmly believe Charlotte needs this desperately, as well. As far as AHL talent goes, Andre Benoit is the player I’d most like to see in a Checkers sweater, though I hear he’s in talks about returning to Binghamton, where he recently won the second Calder Cup of his career. I’d also like to see Casey Borer return, but since Carolina hasn’t signed him yet, it’s hard to say if he would still be in the running for a job with the Canes organization. Losing both Bryan Rodney and Zack Fitzgerald is going to be a big deal to the Checkers. While many (myself included) can list on-ice weaknesses about each player, their leadership is something that won’t be easily replaced.
Speaking of leadership, I’m anxious to find out who the Checkers name as their captains this year. My vote is for Chris Terry, but he’ll have tough competition. Nick Blanchard, who wore an A, is returning, plus new guys like Chris Durno have leadership experience. Durno was the Norfolk Admirals captain last year.
Cam Atkinson of the Columbus Blue Jackets organization let it slip earlier that John Muse signed a deal with the Checkers today, and Muse confirmed it just a bit ago, so it looks like the Charlotte Checkers just secured another Goalie for their system. While no contractual details have been released, one would assume this is an AHL/ECHL two-way deal similar to the one Bobby Goepfert had last season, and would have Muse starting the season in Ft. Meyers with the Everblades.
Muse is a recent graduate of Boston College, where he won not one, but two NCAA Championships during his four years there. He was the starting netminder during his undergraduate career with Boston College.
His only professional experience is one game, a win, with the Portland Pirates last season.
His numbers at Boston College were fantastic, and he got plenty of playing time, serving as the starting goalie during all four seasons there. Highly touted Hurricanes prospect Brian Dumoulin was a teammate of Muse’s at BC.
I think this was a really good pick up for the Checkers, and am anxious to see him in action.
This morning, the Carolina Hurricanes announced another key signing that will directly affect the Charlotte Checkers. Chris Durno was signed to a one-year, two way deal. Durno, 30, is a veteran of the NHL and AHL, most recently serving as the captain of the Norfolk Admirals. His veteran leadership will be a huge boost to Charlotte’s core of young players. For all of the details, check out the Canes press release here.
Hurricanes sign Brett Sutter
The Hurricanes also announced they had come to terms on a one-year, two-way contract with Brett Sutter. Sutter led the Charlotte Checkers in goals during the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs, and is well on the way to what could be a break-out year for him. Brett is the cousin of Hurricanes Alternate Captain Brandon Sutter, and 2011 draft pick Brody Sutter. Full details of the signing can be found here.
Updated contracts, ver. 3.0
About a month and a half ago, I posted a number of spreadsheets that listed Checkers players under contract for next season, and those who still need to be re-signed. Here’s an updated list, and a bit of analysis. There are still a few key signings that need to be made, but I have a lot of confidence in a Checkers squad next season that includes these guys. It will be great to look to the veteran leadership of guys like Nicolas Blanchard and Chris Terry, and new talent like Justin Faulk and Justin Shugg. (Just a note, the Checkers could have as many as five Justin’s on the team next season… and we thought we had a Zac(k/h) problem last season!) Continue reading “Hurricanes sign Chris Durno, Brett Sutter and updated contract status for 2011/12”→
Chasing Checkers AHL contract status roster will be updated shortly.
Sanguinetti played only 31 games this season following what was considered to be season-ending surgery early in the season. Hopefully in September we will have a fully recovered defenseman. Sanguinetti is an American from New Jersey who went through the OHL ranks before being drafted in the first round by the New York Rangers. He spent two seasons in the AHL with Hartford and made two trips to the AHL All Star game before eventually landing in Charlotte after a trade brought him to the Carolina organization.
On the flip side of signing Sanguinetti, Charlotte lost one our best 2010/11 Checkers today when the Washington Capitals signed Jacob Micflikier to a one-year contract. MicFlikier scored a career-high 29 goals last year in Charlotte. I hate to see him go, especially to a team that is not one of my favorites, but wish him only the best. I hope that the NHL contract was worth it, and that he actually gets a shot to play in Washington, (though with as much depth as that team has in Hershey…. well, we’ll see.)
This signing brings the total of non-roster players in Washington to 25, most of whom will play at the minor league level in Hershey this season. Additionally, Hershey has already announced a number of players who have been signed to AHL/ECHL two-way deals. This summer alone, we’ve seen the Caps/Bears sign Ryan Potulny, a member of the Calder Cup winning Senators team, AHL veteran Graham Mink who previously played and won two Calder Cups with Hershey before moving, Christian Hanson, and countless others to NHL and AHL contracts. Just look at this list of press releases.
Unlike the Capitals/Hershey teams, Charlotte has always had a “develop from within” kind of mentality as it relates to the minor leagues. While I would love to see Charlotte sign a veteran for our defense, I know it’s unlikely it will happen (though, Andre Benoit and Danny Syvret are still available…). The Hurricanes use the Checkers to develop their young players in the hopes they will be NHL ready one day. On last years regular roster, only two Checkers were not under contract with the Hurricanes (Micflikier and Brad Herauf).
Last year, there wasn’t a single player on the Checkers roster who fell into the “veteran” category that prevents more than 12 players with more than 260 AHL or NHL games played to dress for each game. Teams like Hershey, however, had multiple players who fell into this veteran category, and there were a number of AHL squads that had to bench guys in favor of younger players to be within the rule book. This upcoming season, Jon Matsumoto, Nicolas Blanchard and Brett Sutter (pending his re-signing) will all fall under the “260 games or more” category, but three is hardly enough for the Checkers to be concerned as to whether they have enough non-veteran players to compete each night.