The American Hockey League has announced that they’ve canceled the remainder of the 2019-20 regular season and playoffs, in turn ending the season for the Charlotte Checkers.
After a bit of speculation, the AHL has officially decided to pull the plug on the 2019-20 season and turn their attention to starting next season. With this announcement, they now join the NCAA, ECHL, USHL, and SPHL in fully canceling their season rather than opting to continue to postpone it.
Going into his season the Charlotte Checkers were looking to defend their Calder Cup Championship but now won’t get the chance to do so until next year. While the start of the year wasn’t what they were hoping for, they appeared to have rebounded quite nicely in the past few months.
Working with the loss of several key players during both the offseason and trade deadline, the Checkers appeared to be in good hands under first-time head coach Ryan Warsofsky. The architect to their elite PK, he was one of the many contributing factors that led to Charlotte’s championship run.
Although the AHL season is now canceled, it is still possible that some of these players will get the call to join the Canes in Raleigh for the playoffs, should the NHL resume. Every year, during the postseason, teams like to carry extra bodies with them in case of an injury. Now, not having to worry about the Checkers and their own playoff run, the Hurricanes will likely follow suit.
Among the likely candidates are Alex Nedeljkovic, Jake Bean, Clark Bishop, and Brian Gibbons. Each of these players has seen the NHL ice with the Canes at some point in the past two seasons and will look to earn another look with the big club for next season and beyond.
In Nedeljkovic and Bean’s case, they’re hoping that they’ve played their final game in the American Hockey League. On a one way deal next season, Ned has nothing left to prove at the AHL level. Near the top, or at the top, of all goaltending categories for the franchise, he is ready to make the jump to the NHL full time.
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Having him on the roster for the postseason, even as a healthy extra, would make him eligible to play if another Dave Ayres situation arises.
Bean is also looking to solidify a spot in the NHL full time with the Canes next year. Having him as a possible option in the postseason only adds to the wealth of depth on the blueline this team has this year. Although it is unlike he’ll play, it’s good to have options.
Bishop and Gibbons are two guys Rod seems to like to have up and in the lineup because they’re reliable two-way players. Not likely to prove much offensive, they are mainly used in a fourth line, penalty-killing role. With Charlotte’s season now over, it wouldn’t hurt to have them waiting in the wings should injuries occur.
At the end of the day, it is a bit disappointing that we won’t get to see if the Checkers can defend their title this season, but it makes sense why. With all the uncertainty going on right now, it doesn’t make that much sense to continue to have the players, fans, and reporters live in limbo for who knows how much longer.
Question for CC readers: What are your thoughts on the latest cancellations?