The Checkers could potentially have an unprecedented level of star power at their disposal next season.
In addition to many members of last season’s Checkers team, the assignments included forward Jeff Skinner, a 2011 NHL All-Star who won the league’s rookie of the year award that same season by scoring 31 goals, and defenseman Justin Faulk, who made the All-Rookie team last season after spending time in Charlotte in the fall. Center Jeremy Welsh, who joined the organization as a college free agent in the spring, rounds out the trio of young players who were otherwise on track to start the season in the NHL.
Just prior to the official start of the NHL lockout on Sunday, the Hurricanes assigned 28 players to Charlotte in order to make them eligible for the AHL season. The list was comprised of the 11 who cleared waivers and a larger group of players on entry-level contracts who did not require waivers.
Though they are officially on the Checkers' roster, it remains to be seen whether Skinner and Faulk will actually play for the team. Assigning them at this time ensures that they will be eligible, but a final decision has not been made.
Given how fast they established themselves as highly-effective players at the NHL level, Skinner and Faulk, both 20, are among the more high-profile players headed to the AHL in advance of the expiring collective bargaining agreement. The Hurricanes chose them with their first two picks in the 2010 draft, with Skinner going seventh overall and Faulk at 37.
Completing the list of Saturday’s assignments are forwards Nicolas Blanchard, Zach Boychuk, Zac Dalpe, A.J. Jenks, Riley Nash, Victor Rask, Jerome Samson, Justin Shugg, Jared Staal, Brett Sutter, Brody Sutter, Chris Terry and Tim Wallace; defensemen Brett Bellemore, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Michal Jordan, Tommi Kivisto, Justin Krueger, Austin Levi, Rasmus Rissanen, Bobby Sanguinetti, Beau Schmitz and Joe Sova; and goaltenders Justin Peters and John Muse.
Dates and a roster for Checkers training camp in Charlotte will be announced next week.