Waters continue to muddy with the situation between the Chicago Wolves and the Carolina Hurricanes. Whether we learn all the details from reliable sources remains unseen, but with Carolina Hurricanes players assigned to the ECHL Norfolk Admirals refusing to report, it would appear the Hurricanes are in a sailing ship without much wind in the minor league department.
Noel Gunler, a 22 year old forward and former 2nd round pick, is the most notable player reneging on his assignment to the Admirals. It is reported Gunler is headed back to Karpat in the Finnish Liiga, rather than accept an ECHL job.
Anttoni Honka has also been sent to Norfolk, but it is unclear what he will do. The 23 year old Finn played 70 games with the Chicago Wolves last year and scored career high 6 goals. Honka also has experience in Finland having played in the JYP Jyväskylä for Liiga from 2020 to 2022.
Gunler and Honka are not the only Hurricanes who have turned the sights to east rather than skate with the Admirals. Malte Strömwall left the Chicago Wolves for Sweden and the Frölunda HC. Strömwall had a solid year with the Wolves last year notching 18, and has a very productive career in Europe.
With the Hurricanes minor league situation in shambles, it is becoming more and more apparent that Carolina needs to be working overtime on getting an AHL team here in North Carolina. At the very least, promoting either the Carolina Thunderbirds or the Fayetteville Marksmen to the ECHL and pulling them under the Hurricanes tent would be better than players bailing for Europe. Not to mention farming the likes of Pyotr Kochetkov our to other teams’ AHL squads.
Perhaps the proximity and ability to manage an AHL team close to home would avoid these sorts of problems in the future. Not to mention the veritable cornucopia of benefits to the hometown of the team, the Charlotte Checkers, the Carolina Hurricanes, and the state of North Carolina.
Whatever the Hurricanes end up doing, something needs to shake out soon. Talented players are draining out of the organization and the skilled drafting traditionally a strong suit of the Canes is being squandered.