Zac Dalpe, Jeremy Welsh traded to Vancouver for Kellan Tochkin & draft pick

Not long after midnight, the Hurricanes announced that they had traded Jeremy Welsh and Zac Dalpe to the Vancouver Canucks for RW Kellan Tochkin and a fourth round pick.

Bob McKenzie tweeted the following:

Dalpe’s ability at center can serve Vancouver well, and Welsh should be familiar with the area, as Utica is a mere hour away from Schenectady, New York, where he attended college at Union.

Zac Dalpe was traded by the Carolina Hurricanes along with Jeremy Welsh to the Vancouver Canucks for Kellan Tolchkin and a fourth-round draft pic. (Photo - Jenni Propst)
Zac Dalpe was traded by the Carolina Hurricanes along with Jeremy Welsh to the Vancouver Canucks for Kellan Tolchkin and a fourth-round draft pic. (Photo – Jenni Propst)

Dalpe’s younger brother Ben, a frequent Checkers fan and Charlotte visitor, is currently playing for the Pencticton Vees before starting college at Clarkson next fall.  Penticton is in the Okanagan valley, and a short drive from Vancouver, which should serve the brothers well.

Tochkin is a native of Abbotsford, British Columbia.  He played five years in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips, Medicine Hat Tigers and Prince Albert Raiders. One and a half of those seasons was spent with Rasmus Rissannen in Everett, who he is expected to join in Charlotte as a member of the Charlotte Checkers.  Last year, Tochkin played for the Missouri Mavericks, and was to begin the season with the Utica Comets.

As for the departures from the Hurricanes organization… both personally and professionally, I will miss Zac Dalpe a great deal. He is a character guy on and off the ice. He gave great post-game interviews, and played at 110% each and every night.  He was a huge asset to the organization, and will be missed.

I’d anticipate a formal release from the Checkers in the morning.  Until then, Let’s Go Checkers.


Five new players to watch in Charlotte: Checkers training camp edition


Checkers training camp here in Charlotte is set to begin at 10am tomorrow at the Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail, and while I’m looking forward to seeing many familiar faces, there are a number of new additions worth mentioning.  So here are a few of the players I am most anxious to see on the ice this year:


Danny Biega – Biega is set to begin his first full professional season, after spending four years at Harvard.  He played with both of his brothers while there, and his oldest brother Alex is going to be a member of the Utica Comets this season (who, as we all know, despite being in the same conference, will not face Charlotte).  Biega played one regular season game for the Checkers last year, but sustained an upper body injury that took him out for the last 15 games of the season before he returned for the playoffs. Biega is the kind of player who could make a big impact from day one with the Checkers.


Austin Levi at Checkers Training camp in 2012. (Photo - J. Propst)
Austin Levi at Checkers Training camp in 2012. (Photo – J. Propst)

Austin Levi – Levi spent five seasons with the Plymouth Whalers, an organization that brought the Checkers guys like Chris Terry, Michal Jordan, Brett Bellemore and Justin Peters.  Last season, he served as an alternate captain for the Whalers.  Levi is a big, physical defenseman who knows how to shut down the opposition.  Levi’s size and work ethic should prove to be valuable assets to the Checkers this year.


Keegan Lowe – Lowe’s family is about as Canadian as they come (his mom was an Alpine skier at the 1988 Calgary Olympics, and his dad is a six time Stanley cup winning defenseman), but since Keegan was born in Connecticut while his dad was playing for the New York Rangers, he’s played for Team USA at international competitions. Keegan grew up in Edmonton where his dad is currently the President of Hockey Operations for the Oilers. Keegan’s Edmonton Oil Kings made it to the Western Hockey League finals last year, a seven game series with Victor Rask’s Calgary Hitmen, who ultimately won the series.  Lowe’s still developing, but should add a lot of depth to the developing defense corps in Charlotte.


Brendan Woods – Brendan joins the Checkers after two years at the University of Wisconsin.  He was born in Pennsylvania (like Lowe, his dad was playing hockey at the time), but grew up in Saskatchewan. His dad is an ECHL hall of famer and current NHL assistant coach of the Anaheim Ducks.  Woods is a big forward who plays center and right wing, and should learn a lot in his first professional season this year.


Aaron Palushaj – A gritty right winger, Palushaj is about to enter his sixth professional season, after spending two years at the University of Michigan.  He’s played for the Peoria Rivermen, Hamilton Bulldogs, Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche before signing a contract with the Carolina Hurricanes this year.  Over the summer, he won a bronze medal for Team USA in the World Championships.  Assuming he clears waivers (he’s already been claimed once in his career, which is how he ended up in Colorado last year), he’s going to be a lot of fun to watch in Charlotte.


Victor Rask played 10 games for the Checkers last season. (Photo: J. Propst)
Victor Rask played 10 games for the Checkers last season. (Photo: J. Propst)

Victor Rask – Victor spent the first month of the season with the Checkers last year before the Hurricanes reassigned him to his junior team, the Calgary Hitman. He had five points in 10 games with Charlotte.  Rask is a physical player with phenomenal offensive potential.  As a member of Sweden’s World Junior team, he’s won consecutive medals, a gold in 2012 and silver in 2013.  Rask played in the WHL for two years, and this will be his third season in North America.


Roster notes:

  •  Earlier today, the Hurricanes placed the following players on waivers: Nicolas Blanchard, Michal Jordan, Justin Peters, Zach Boychuk, Aaron Palushaj, and Jared Staal.  It is presumed they will be assigned to Charlotte if they clear at noon tomorrow.
  • Chris Terry, Zac Dalpe, Brett Bellemore, Brett Sutter and Riley Nash, who were all Checkers regulars last year, remain at Hurricanes camp, all with very good chances of making the NHL squad this year.  They would require waivers to be sent to Charlotte.
  • Jeremy Welsh and Ryan Murphy remain at Hurricanes camp and would not require waivers to be assigned.

All Checkers practices this week are open to the public from 10am-noon in Indian Trail. There’s also a preseason game against the Admirals on Friday, September 27, and there’s Norfolking way the Checkers are going to lose!  I’ll see you at training camp!


The Frozen Four – Fun facts and which Charlotte Checkers have had NCAA success

I love the Frozen Four tournament.  When all of my friends are talking about “March Madness” my mind instantly goes to the Division I hockey teams hoping to make the post season.

On Thursday (while the Checkers take on the Texas Stars), the semi-finals will be underway in Pittsburgh, with St. Cloud State taking on top-ranked Quinnipiac, and UMass-Lowell will face Yale.  The final is on Saturday.

Half of the tournament is over already, and my NCAA team lost in the second round unfortunately, so I’m without a team to cheer for in the Frozen Four this weekend.

Sean Dolan captained the Wisconsin Badgers during his senior year of college.
Sean Dolan captained the Wisconsin Badgers during his senior year of college.

This year, the Frozen Four consists of three teams who’ve never made it to the Frozen Four, and a fourth team who has only made it once.   When my team gets eliminated early in the tournament, I like to cheer for the underdog, but that’s a hard choice this year, because none of the teams have a lot of post-season success.  I can’t tell you the last time the Frozen Four didn’t include one of the NCAA powerhouses such as Sean Dolan’s Wisconsin or John Muse’s Boston College.

A few fun facts about this year’s Frozen Four:

  • The mascots of the four teams include pretty regular creatures.  Two types of dogs, a cat, and a bird.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a Golden Gopher, A Fighting Sioux, or a mythical creature like a Golden Knight or Buckeye. This makes me sad.
  • Yale and Quinnipiac are located on the same street in Connecticut, only eight miles away.
  • St. Cloud State University has never been to a Frozen Four before this year, though the state of Minnesota has 20 players in the Frozen Four this year.
  • University of Massachusetts – Lowell is also making their first-ever Frozen Four appearance. They have the fewest Canadians on their team with three, and are the only team to not have a player from the state of Minnesota.
  • David Marshall as a member of the Quinnipiac Bobcats.
    David Marshall as a member of the Quinnipiac Bobcats.

    Quinnipiac has the most Canadians on their team with six.  This is their first Frozen Four, and only their second appearance in the post season.  In 2002, they lost in the first round to Cornell.  Charlotte Checkers forward David Marshall spent four years playing for the Quinnipiac Bobcats Connecticut.

  • Yale is set to make their second Frozen Four appearance in their history.  They last made it to the Frozen Four in 1952.  Former Hurricanes player Mike Commodore was recruited by Yale, but they wanted him to re-take the SAT to be accepted.  He instead chose to attend the University of North Dakota, where he won the Frozen Four tournament in 2000.

NCAA Alumni on the Charlotte Checkers

  • John Muse is one of the greatest goaltender's to ever play for Boston College.
    John Muse is one of the greatest goaltender’s to ever play for Boston College.

    John Muse is undoubtedly the most successful member of the Checkers when it comes to his NCAA experience.  He won two Frozen Fours in 2008 and 2010, and appeared in the NCAA tournament in 2011 (the year, by the way, former Checker Justin Faulk’s Duluth team won the championship).  His record in the NCAA tournament was 13-1.

  • Checkers center Jeremy Welsh spent three seasons at Union College.  Welsh played in two NCAA tournaments in 2011 and 2012.  Last year, Welsh was a member of the Union Dutchmen team that made the Division I Frozen Four for the first time in the team’s history.
  • Justin Krueger spent four years as a member of the Cornell Big Red hockey team.
    Justin Krueger spent four years as a member of the Cornell Big Red hockey team.

    Justin Krueger and Riley Nash both played college hockey at Cornell.  The mascot of Cornell is “Big Red.”  Krueger and Nash made two NCAA hockey tournament appearances in 2009 and 2010.

  • Sean Dolan was the captain of the Wisconsin Badgers during his senior season in 2010-11.  He made two NCAA tournament appearances during his college career, in 2008 and 2010.  His junior year, in 2010, his team lost to the goaltending of John Muse and Boston College for the championship.
  • Rob Madore played college hockey at the University of Vermont.
    Rob Madore played college hockey at the University of Vermont.

    Rob Madore played four seasons at the University of Vermont.  He appeared in two NCAA tournaments in 2009 and 2010.  His name is on the school’s record books alongside Tim Thomas in pretty much every stat category.

  • Matt Beca played for the Clarkson University Golden Knights for four seasons.  He appeared in two NCAA tournaments in 2007 and 2008.
  • Danny Biega, Checkers defenseman, played three years at Harvard.  The mascot of Harvard is “Crimson” which is VERY different from the “Big Red” of Cornell.  Harvard and Cornell are fierce rivals. I hope the Checkers players who skated for different shades of red in College can put aside those rivalries now that they are professionals!
  • Eric Baier played four years for the Providence Friars. During his time there, they didn’t make the post season.
  • Zac Dalpe played for the the Ohio State Buckeyes for two years before turning pro.
    Zac Dalpe played for the the Ohio State Buckeyes for two years before turning pro.

    Zac Dalpe spent two years at Ohio State. During his freshman year, his team appeared in the NCAA tournament.

  • Bobby Raymond spent four years at the Rochester Institute of Technology.  It was a Division III school his freshman year, but joined the Division I ranks his second year.  While he didn’t play in an NCAA tournament as a student, his teammates made it the year after he graduated.

Case For/Against: The Checkers Forwards

Right now, the Checkers have 24 players on their roster, not including Jeff Skinner, who is still eligible to play in Charlotte if he decides to join the team.

Of the 24, two are goaltenders and seven are defensemen.  The remaining 15 are forwards.  While there aren’t limits to the number of players an AHL team can carry on its active roster (unlike the NHL, where teams are limited to 23 players), I would find it highly unlikely for the team to have three extra forwards beyond the playing needs of 12.

With that in mind, I would expect one or two more forwards to be cut prior to the first game in Houston this weekend.  I had begun a “Case For/Case Against” that included all of the Checkers forwards, but in the interest in time, decided to only expand upon the players who are still on the fence.  Let’s be real… there are a number of forwards (eight, in my mind) who are locks to make the AHL squad so I did not write them up individually.

The “Locks” are:

Nicolas Blanchard

Drayson Bowman

Zach Boychuk

Zac Dalpe

Riley Nash

Jerome Samson

Brett Sutter

Chris Terry

So that leaves seven guys who are “on the fence” and competing for five or six spots on the final roster.  Who do you think is going to make the final cut?

Sean Dolan

The Case For:

  • Dolan is an undrafted center and a four-year veteran of the University of Wisconsin where he was captain his senior year, was signed by the Checkers last season to a PTO contract which soon led to a full contract for this season.
  • As a member of the Checkers last season, Dolan was quickly integrated into a squad that was constantly changing due to injuries and call ups, and showed he had an incredible ability to adjust his game and fit in where needed, even spending time on the top lines down the stretch.
The Case Against:

  • Experience.  With a number of forwards essentially locked into the AHL lineup, the competition to make the last spot on the squad is incredibly tough.  Even if Dolan starts the season in Florida, he  will certainly be one of the first called up when needed.

AJ Jenks

The Case For:

  • Jenks was a mid-season addition to the Checkers last year, the result of a trade that sent Jon Matsumoto to the Panthers organization.
  • Jenks, though new to the Checkers, is not a stranger to playing with other members of the team.  As a junior player in Plymouth, Jenks was teammates with Brett Bellemore, Chris Terry, Michal Jordan and a number of other current Checkers.
  • Jenks was a bit of an underachiever as a member of the Rampage last season.  He bounced between the AHL and ECHL before coming to Charlotte.  Things turned around quickly, and he finished the season in Charlotte as a valuable member of the team.
The Case Against:

  • Jenks was a bit of an underachiever as a member of the Rampage last season.  He bounced between the AHL and ECHL before coming to Charlotte.  Things turned around quickly, and he finished the season in Charlotte as a valuable member of the team.
  • Experience.  Jenks is still quite young, and though full of potential, he’s battling for a spot on the AHL squad.  With so many players who would probably have started the season in Raleigh with the Hurricanes, there is less room in Charlotte for guys who legitimately deserve to be here.

Victor Rask

The Case For:

  • Rask, a second round draft pick of the Hurricanes in 2011, has already shown the offensive abilities he has after only one season in the CHL.  As a first year player with the Calgary Hitman, he had 63 points (33g, 30a).
  • Rask has the potential to be a top-six forward at the NHL level.  He’s had a great AHL training camp, and had no problem keeping up with the pace of the game at this level.  He’s a physical and exciting player to watch.
  • Rask’s draft profiles all list his stick handling and ability to protect the puck to be some of his greatest assets.
The Case Against:

  • At 19 years old, Rask is young enough to play in the CHL, and has a spot waiting for him in Calgary with the Hitman should the Hurricanes feel that is a better place for his development.  Talent wise, he can and should be playing at the AHL (or NHL) level.

Justin Soryal

The Case For:

  • Soryal, a gritty, tough-guy undrafted forward, signed a one-year deal with the Hurricanes last season, and spent the year in Charlotte as an enforcer until a shoulder injury sidelined him for the rest of the season.  Upon his medical clearance, he was signed by the Checkers to a one-year AHL deal.
  • While Soryal frequently served as the team’s enforcer, he had a more well-rounded game than many in his position.  He finished the season with 10 points (4g, 6a).
  • As the only player on the roster who can be clearly defined as an “enforcer” in a league that seems to require them, Soryal has an outstanding chance at making the final AHL roster.
The Case Against:

  • As a player who is under contract with the AHL team and not the NHL Hurricanes, his chances to make the final roster are slightly less than those of the guys signed to NHL contracts, however this should not be a big concern as Soryal has a unique role as an enforcer on the team, and only he can fill it.

Jared Staal

The Case For:

  • Staal spent the offseason training with his big brothers, and it seems to have paid off.  He lost some weight, and has seemed much more physical during training camp this year.
  • Staal knows this is a make-or-break year for him.  It’s the third and final year in his entry-level contract, and  he has to make a great impression to get resigned as a RFA next summer.  This should light a fire under him (as it already appears to have) and great things could come out of one of the most talented hockey families of the modern era.
The Case Against:

  • Staal is not the strongest skater, and has had limited success at the AHL level.  He spent much of his first professional season in the ECHL, and was loaned to the Providence Bruins last season for the final month after being a healthy scratch for much of the Checkers season.
  • In less than three years as a pro, Staal has already been bounced around between NHL organizations, and has appeared on three different AHL teams plus the ECHL Everblades.

Tim Wallace

The Case For:

  • Wallace is an undrafted forward who spent four years at Notre Dame and five seasons with the Penguins organization, splitting time between the NHL and AHL teams.  Last year, he split the year between Bridgeport in the AHL and the NHL teams of the NY Islanders and Tampa Bay.  This summer,   Wallace signed with the Hurricanes as a free agent this summer.
  • Wallace is a gritty, physical player, and his pro experience will serve to be a great example to younger Checkers players.
The Case Against:

  • Wallace was expected to compete for a spot in Raleigh at the start of the season.  He is a great depth player for the Hurricanes.

Jeremy Welsh

The Case For:

  • Welsh was a highly sought-after free agent last spring.  He helped lead Union college to their first-ever NCAA Frozen Four appearance.  Welsh was never drafted, and chose to sign with Carolina following his college career (Other teams known to have been recruiting Welsh include the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks).
  • He has one game of NHL experience under his belt.
  • Welsh holds the Union College record for most goals scored in a season (27 in 2011-12).  He’s got the potential to be a great offensive player at the pro level, and his size (6’3) and hard shot make him incredibly valuable.
The Case Against:

  • His lack of pro games under his belt makes it a tougher battle, but Welsh’s immense potential should overcome this easily.