With former Charlotte center Riley Nash suffering an injury on Tuesday, current Checkers captain Brett Sutter will replace him in Carolina.
The Hurricanes announced the move on Thursday, the morning of a Checkers home game against Texas and a Carolina road contest in Washington. Sutter, 26, began the season in the NHL, registering no points in seven games with the Hurricanes, but has played in the Checkers' last 22, recording 14 points (2g, 12a).
Nash, who played 188 games with Charlotte over the last three seasons before becoming a full-time NHL player this year, is expected to miss approximately one week with a lower-body concern.
Sutter's departure leaves the Checkers without two-thirds of what had been an effective top line with Zach Boychuk and Chris Terry prior to the holiday break, with Boychuk, Charlotte's current scoring leader, heading to Carolina on Dec. 27. In three NHL games since that time, Boychuk has one assist, giving him two points in four Hurricanes games this season.
"It's not about one or two guys - we've always said it's got to be by committee," said coach Jeff Daniels. "A couple guys up from Florida are anxious to play and want to prove they can play at this level, and other guys are going to move up in the lineup with an opportunity play bigger minutes."
Even with Sutter's departure, the Checkers will have enough players to begin their two-game set against Texas at Time Warner Cable Arena. Greg Nemisz, who the Hurricanes acquired from the Calgary Flames and assigned to Charlotte on Monday, is a natural center and a ready-made replacement as he awaits his Checkers debut.
Despite missing the Checkers' first 10 games, Sutter ranks sixth on the team in points and is tied for third in assists. He posted four points (1g, 3a) over the course of his last four games.
Update: As a Canadian player who has never played for an American team, Nemisz is still going through the immigration process to get his work visa and will not be available for the Checkers tonight. Daniels said that the process, which has been somewhat delayed due to the New Year's holiday, should be completed in the next few days - a timeline that would not see him make his Checkers debut until next week at the earliest.
Jared Staal, who has missed the last 11 games due to injury, will return to the lineup, giving the Checkers 12 forwards to face the Stars. The team's other injured players - center Sean Dolan and defensemen Danny Biega and Rasmus Rissanen, also took Thursday's morning skate but are not ready to return.
- Written by Paul Branecky