The Checkers have made a move to help boost their struggling offense.
In an AHL trade, Charlotte acquired former All-Star forward Philippe Cornet from the San Antonio Rampage in exchange for Adam Brace on Friday morning. Cornet, 23, who has 94 points in 177 career AHL games, is expected to report to Charlotte and be available for this weekend’s games against Rockford.
“We’re looking for more experience, and he’s proven over the last couple of years that he’s capable of producing some points,” said Checkers coach Jeff Daniels of Cornet. “We’ll give him a chance to continue that.
“He’s always around the net and played on the top line last year with (Mark) Arcobello and (Jonathan) Cheechoo and had two real good runs in the playoffs over the last couple of years. Everyone I talked to told me that he’s a great kid and just wants to play.”
Cornet, who scored 33 points (15g, 18a) in 46 games with the Oklahoma City Barons last season, gives the Checkers another player with a history of producing offense at the AHL level, something they have lacked throughout this season. The addition of Chris Terry, the team’s all-time scoring leader, from the Hurricanes immediately following the acquisition of Cornet will give them a further boost in that regard.
An important factor in their team-record losing streak that currently stands at seven games, the Checkers have scored two or fewer goals in five of their last six outings. For the season, they rank 26th in the AHL with an average of 2.44 goals per game.
“We’re not happy and things aren’t working, and we need to find some different pieces that can get us over the hump,” said Daniels. “Chris coming down will add some excitement to our game and Phillip will be excited to get back here and play at this level. Some other guys will get pushed down in the lineup, and they’re going to have to push back to be where they want to be.”
Brace, a 25-year-old rookie, had six points (2g, 4a) in 10 games with the Checkers, all of which came during a five-game point streak from Oct. 31-Nov. 13. The product of Robert Morris University had signed an AHL contract with the Checkers this summer following a successful debut with their ECHL affiliate in Florida (21 points in 17 total games) towards the end of last season.
“You’ve got to give somebody to get somebody, and we felt like right now Phillip is further along in his career and has proven it at this level,” said Daniels.
A fifth-round draft choice by the Edmonton Oilers in 2008, Cornet, who played with Checkers forward Matt Marquardt while the two were in Oklahoma City, played two NHL games with that team in 2011-12, recording one assist. Since signing an AHL deal with the Rampage and attending Florida Panthers’ training camp prior to this season, the native of Val-Senneville, Quebec, produced one assist in four games with the club before joining its ECHL affiliate in Cincinnati on Nov. 12.
That transaction, which Daniels understood to be a result of forward depth in San Antonio (the Rampage immediately assigned Brace to Cincinnati upon acquiring him) occurred four days after Tom Rowe, who previously worked with Daniels while still a member of the Carolina Hurricanes organization, joined the Rampage as its new head coach. Daniels said that he and Rowe had not spoken directly about Cornet.
Cornet (6 feet, 196 pounds) was a victim of last season’s lockout, having to start the campaign with ECHL Stockton despite scoring a career-high 24 goals in his All-Star season for the Barons one year earlier while Oklahoma City loaded up with young NHL stars Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He resumed his role as a key offensive player for the second half of the season, putting together the best scoring pace of his three full AHL seasons.
In 235 career junior games with Rimouski and Rouyn-Noranda in the QMJHL, Cornet recorded 224 points (87g, 137a).
The Checkers’ most recent transaction with another AHL team was also with the Rampage, with Charlotte acquiring defenseman Brendon Nash on loan last season. The teams were also involved in a swap of players the year prior to that, with the Hurricanes and Panthers pulling off an NHL trade involving Jon Matsumoto, Evgenii Dadonov and A.J. Jenks.