During the season, Checkers broadcaster Jason Shaya checks in each week with his 10 Thoughts - a series of observations about the team and the hockey world in general.
1. Another member of the 2019 Calder Cup Championship team moves on as the Rangers acquired Julien Gauthier in a trade yesterday. In the ten-year history of Charlotte‘s AHL franchise, Gauthier will go down as one of the most dynamic scoring forwards in team history. His line with Nic Roy and Nick Schilkey was unstoppable at times during the Cup run. Julien played with an edge and he and Roy simply wore down opposing defensemen in each playoff series. Tonight, he makes his debut with the Rangers and soon enough he’ll take on his former team in Raleigh. Everyone in Charlotte is extremely happy for him.
2. I didn’t realize how impressive Leon Draisaitl was until I saw him play in person. He is an absolutely dominating player. I have no idea how you can contain someone that big with that much skill and judging by his numbers, no one else knows either.
3. The head coach of Springfield, Geordie Kinnear, gets the most out of his team every single night. Their roster is thin with the lack of prospects and because of injuries and call ups. But you wouldn’t be able to tell that when they stepped into the Coliseum this past weekend. Full credit to one of the hardest working coaches in the league, who many people think will be a future NHL coach as well.
4. There were a total of eight teams scouting Charlotte last weekend. In case you’re wondering, no, the Rangers weren’t there. Nevertheless, the deadline on Monday might bring even more changes to Charlotte and Carolina.
5. Joey Keane, the newest acquisition from the Rangers, is an AHL All Star in his first season. I remember after the first game of the year, when Charlotte lost in Hartford, talking with the Checkers coaches about how Keane stood out for the Wolfpack. He’s only gotten better as the year has moved forward. He will be a great addition to an already-stacked Charlotte blue line.
6. Warren Foegele finished his NHL rookie season with 15 points (10g, 5a) in 77 games. This year, he’s on pace to more than double that output. Not only has he made huge strides offensively, he’s also worked incredibly hard on the defensive side of the puck.
7. With Gauthier moving on, the team’s top goal scorer leaves and the need for someone to step up is going to be vital. Charlotte is playing for their lives every night and can’t afford any setbacks. Steven Lorentz, Janne Kuokkanen and Morgan Geekie will need to provide even more offense. I know all three are more than capable.
8. Congrats to Terry Broadhurst for turning his PTO into an AHL contract. It would be tough to find a better pro than him. He works incredibly hard on and off the ice and quickly earned the trust of the entire coaching staff.
9. Derek Sheppard is becoming a fan favorite here in Charlotte. Derek, a defenseman turned forward, is doing everything he can to earn his ice time. I should note that as much as he is loved by the fans, it pales to the polling numbers of Alex Nedeljkovic, who may run for the Mayor of Charlotte in the next election. Could be fake news but that’s what my sources indicate.
10. Can’t think of a better weekend than spending time in Binghamton, NY. Ever been there? Now, ask yourself why you answered no and you’ll have the right answer. Anyway, the most important road trip of the season is coming up. The Checkers enter the weekend clinging to a playoff spot. How this trip goes may very well determine if they can keep it. The pregame show on Friday begins at 6:50 with highlights from a very solid home stand over the previous two weeks.