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) Losing Lucas Wallmark (17 goals, 55 points), Valentin Zykov (33 goals, 51 points) and Warren Foegele (28 goals, 46 points) to Carolina and Andrew Miller (15 goals, 52 points) to Europe means that there are a lot of points missing from this season's roster. However, there are several players in their second year who are determined to get more ice time and show they have the ability to carry the team like those who came before them did. This is their chance right now. The entire organization is watching for someone to emerge.
2) Speaking of second year players, Janne Kuokkanen is a kid who was good enough to start last season with Hurricanes as a 19 year old. He has everything a high-end player needs in order to become successful. I believe he will smash last year's 40-point output if he play the majority of this season in Charlotte.
3) No matter how optimistic your view is of Charlotte's team, the bottom line is that second-year guys like Julien Gauthier, Nic Roy, Aleksi Saarela and Kuokkanen will be asked to carry a much heavier load. The overall success of this team probably rests on their shoulders. If they can perform like many believe they're able, then Charlotte will be amongst the top teams in the AHL. But, we won't know until the puck drops starting this Friday.
4) Bob Cole, the voice of hockey in Canada for generations, is entering his 50th and final season on Hockey Night In Canada. One of the only reasons I am a broadcaster is because I grew up listening to him on Channel 9 back home in Detroit. While it's possible to conceive that one day there will be another Doc Emrick or even Gary Thorne, there will never be another Bob Cole. The greatest broadcaster in the history of professional sports. God gave us the perfect broadcaster to call the biggest moments in hockey history for a half century.
5) If you watched any of the Carolina Hurricanes pre-season games, you already know this team is a totally different group from previous years. If they get the goaltending necessary, the entire NHL is in for a huge surprise. Going to go out on a limb here and say that when April ends, Sebastian Aho will be talked about for the Hart Trophy for league MVP.
6) With all the accolades that were received by Foegele and Wallmark for making the Hurricanes roster out of camp, I think what went unnoticed is the play of Haydn Fleury. I believe he made huge strides in the off-season. This will be a breakout season for Haydn.
7) The AHL's new league-wide game broadcast partner is set to give all fans free viewing of games this weekend. That will include Charlotte vs Rochester on Friday and Saturday. Find out more info and sign up for free here. Also, every single game will be streamed through the Checkers app with the pre-game show taking place 15 minutes before every puck drop. Download the app for iPhone or Android and you can listen to my glorious and soothing voice 76 times between now and April.
8) Here is my Stanley Cup Prediction: Eastern Conference: Boston Bruins....Western Conference: St. Louis … Stanley Cup: St. Louis ... Jack Hughes: Detroit.
9) The scariest part of this season is trying to remember how to say Saku Mäenalanen. Pray for me.
10) Finally, let me take a moment and say that I am very happy for the success of both Warren Foegele and Lucas Wallmark. I am not sure I ever remember a better rookie season from any Charlotte player like the one Foegele had. It was evident after his first exhibition game, this was the year he became an NHL player. The Hurricanes hockey staff realized it and rewarded him with a roster spot. As far as Wallmark is concerned, there aren't enough superlatives to properly articulate how great he is at this game. He plays three or four moves ahead of everyone. What he understands can't be taught. He's a special player. Yet, after writing this about both guys, I am more impressed with the kind of people they are. We will miss them both here in Charlotte.
We'll be live on Friday night at 6:50 pm from Rochester, New York.