Days after National Charlotte Checkers Day and the start of the regular season a week away, we look at what this 2019-2020 season likely has in store for us.
Nearly four months ago, the Charlotte Checkers made history by winning their first ever Calder Cup in franchise history. Playing dominantly in the regular season and in the playoffs, their hard work paid off and they got rewarded with memories they’ll always remember, the fans will always remember.
For the majority of the offseason, many people doubted any chance that the Checkers would be a contender again, to be able to defend their championship, to even make playoffs.
The losses of Captain Patrick Brown, Alternate Captain Andrew Poturalski, both of which are full of skill, raised questions. Haydn Fleury is also expected to lock down an NHL spot, until at least Trevor van Riemsdyk‘s recovery from injury.
With the additions of Alex Lintuniemi, Brian Gibbons, Gustav Forsling, Max McCormick, Kyle Wood, Anton Forsberg, and Fredrik Claesson, the Checkers definitely made up for their key player losses after the championship season. The Checkers will also be retaining key pieces in Roland McKeown, Clark Bishop, and Alex Nedeljkovic.
With the Carolina Hurricanes assigning players down to the Charlotte Checkers, some of these players would make an NHL roster if they weren’t in the Hurricanes organization, where talent is loaded now.
You can expect McKeown, Jake Bean, Nedeljkovic, and many of the forwards having a monster season in Charlotte. With the battle continuing between Julien Gauthier and Martin Necas, they know that fighting for a roster spot is definitely possible and achievable.
Though it is unlikely to repeat such a regular season feat as last season, the Charlotte Checkers remain a tough contender who will compete for the Calder Cup again.
They could have the best record in the league again, but you can bet they will at least be in the top three, in terms of points. Whatever happens to the Hurricanes defensive situation, the Checkers could see a nice defenseman in Fleury or new-coming, flashy Chase Priskie.
The goaltending may even look better for the Checkers this upcoming season. They already have Alex Nedeljkovic locked in, but who will come with him? James Reimer? Anton Forsberg? It’s highly unlikely that Forsberg is not claimed off waivers, should it come to him being sent down to Charlotte.
However, if Reimer is sent down, his $3,400,000 cap hit isn’t the most attractive thing. Should Reimer be the Hurricanes backup, with Forsberg claimed or traded, Callum Booth‘s next big step looks to be an AHL backup, anyways.
On October 5th, at 7PM EST, the Checkers will face off against the Hartford Wolf Pack to begin the new season. The questions for the Carolina Hurricanes, also are of concern for the Charlotte Checkers.
Will Ryan Dzingel be on the ice in time, for one of Gauthier or Necas to be down in Charlotte? When is van Riemsdyk back? Who will the Hurricanes cut from the training camp roster next? Time will answer these questions.
Question for Cardiac Cane Readers: Will the Charlotte Checkers make or miss the playoffs?