When it came to finding another goalie for their upcoming road trip, the Checkers turned to someone they knew well.
The team announced Wednesday that John Muse, formerly of an AHL contract with Charlotte and an NHL deal with Carolina, will sign a professional tryout contract. Muse, who the Hurricanes did not qualify as a restricted free agent this past offseason, had been playing on an ECHL contract with Fort Wayne at the time of the signing.
A 25-year-old who won two NCAA national championships as a starter with Boston College in 2008 and 2010 and a playoff MVP award with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades in 2012, Muse played 31 regular-season games for the Checkers over the last two seasons, going 19-10-3 with a 2.52 goals-against average and .916 save percentage. He also played in the Checkers’ final playoff game last season, appearing in relief of Rob Madore despite suffering a hand injury earlier in the week.
After attending training camp with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last month, Muse returned to Fort Wayne and started the team’s lone game to this point, a 4-3 shootout loss in which he stopped 18 of 21 shots.
Muse fits the Checkers’ immediate need for an experienced goalie to split time with Mike Murphy as the team prepared to play six road games in nine days starting Friday. That game against the Grand Rapids Griffins is also the start of a three-in-three set in three different cities.
“Without a doubt we’ll need to use two goalies,” coach Jeff Daniels said prior to Muse’s signing. “Both will have to play.”
The Checkers began the search for another goaltender upon sending Jesse Deckert, who signed an AHL two-way contract with the team this offseason, back to the ECHL’s Florida Everblades on Tuesday. Deckert stopped 10 of 13 shots after taking over for Mike Murphy midway through Charlotte’s most recent game, a 7-2 loss to the Iowa Wild on Sunday.
“Jesse had only played half of an exhibition game since September, so this was about getting him some time to relax,” said Daniels. “It had nothing to do with Sunday. We just though getting back into a rhythm would be the best thing for him.”
The Checkers' need to fill a goalie spot alongside Murphy will last as long as Anton Khudobin, who has been on injured reserve since Oct. 13, remains out in Carolina. At that time, Justin Peters would likely return to Charlotte.
According to the Raleigh News and Observer, the Hurricanes expect Khudobin to resume skating next week.