Charlotte Checkers News Harris Teeter

Group Heads to Unrestricted Free Agency

A sizeable group of Checkers players are set to become unrestricted free agents on Friday.

On Tuesday, Carolina Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford told the Raleigh News and Observer that veteran forwards Jerome Samson and Tim Wallace will not sign new contracts with the team before the market opens on July 5. Additionally, the News and Observer reports that the Hurricanes will not present qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards A.J. Jenks, Andreas Nodl and Luke Pither, defensemen Justin Krueger and Joe Sova, and goaltender John Muse. All of those players will now become unrestricted free agents.

Tim Wallace
With the exception of Sova, who spent all of last season in the ECHL after playing 20 games with Charlotte during the 2011-12 campaign, every player on the above lists suited up for at least one Checkers game last season. Samson, a two-time AHL All-Star who struggled with injuries last season, ranks fourth on the team’s all-time list in goals (53) and points (109). Of the players involved in Tuesday’s news, Wallace, who provided grit, leadership and secondary scoring during his one season with Charlotte, played the most NHL games with Carolina last season (28).

Barring the eventual return of any of those players, which could still potentially occur at a later date, the Hurricanes are now likely to devote some of their free-agent efforts in a search for replacements. Depending on how the NHL team shapes up, the Checkers could be most thin at forward, where Zac Dalpe and Riley Nash, who will both require waivers for the first time, and Brett Sutter - three of the team's top five scorers from last season - headline a group of NHL hopefuls.

On defense, Charlotte will still have enough players to field a lineup, though coach Jeff Daniels has stated the organization’s desire for an experienced veteran to balance the incoming youth movement led by Danny Biega, Keegan Lowe and, potentially, Ryan Murphy.

In goal, the Checkers could still end up with some combination of Justin Peters, Mike Murphy and Rob Madore, though the latter two are still without contract for next season.

Meanwhile, Carolina did present qualifying offers to its other restricted free agents, a group that is made up of forwards Dalpe, Nash, Zach Boychuk and Jared Staal and defenseman Michal Jordan. Sutter and defenseman Brett Bellemore, who were set to become unrestricted free agents, signed new one-year, two-way contracts with the Hurricanes last week.

An updated free agent list can be found here.
Paul Branecky
Author: Paul BraneckyEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Checkers' vice president of communications, Paul Branecky has been covering hockey in North Carolina since 2006, including five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.