Heading into their weekend series with San Antonio, the Checkers have replaced one injured ECHL call-up with another.
Forward Matt Marquardt became the latest addition from the Florida Everblades on Friday, as the 25-year-old signed a professional tryout contract with Charlotte. Marquardt, who will play on the left wing, has 180 games of AHL experience with Providence, Springfield and Oklahoma City but has not played in the league since the 2010-11 season.
“It’s really exciting to get an opportunity to show what I can do,” said Marquardt, who will replace the injured David Rutherford in the lineup this weekend. “I have experience at this level, and spending the last two years in the ECHL I feel like I really got the chance to work on things I was told I needed to improve.
“In that league they only roll three lines, so you get a chance to do a lot of power play and penalty kill, and I think that really made me a more well-rounded player.”
At 6-foot-3 and 229 pounds, Marquardt, an alternate captain in Florida, clearly brings an element of size to the Checkers lineup, where he’ll start on a scoring line with Riley Nash and Zac Dalpe. He’s also demonstrated an offensive touch in lower leagues, as he ranked third on the Everblades in scoring with 36 points (15g, 21a) in 44 games at the time of his departure. A seventh-round draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2006, he also recorded seasons of 70 and 69 points during a three-year career with Moncton and Baie-Comeau in the Quebec league.
“He’s got experience, he’s got size and he can shoot the puck,” said coach Jeff Daniels. “We’ll see what he can do.”
Despite the prolonged absence from the AHL, where he’s spent two full seasons dating back to his rookie year with Providence in 2008-09, Marquardt doesn’t expect much of a learning curve this weekend, partially due to an abundance of familiar faces. Dating back to the Everblades’ Kelly Cup team last season, he’s played with five players on the Checkers’ current roster.
“I won a championship with a lot of these guys and that helps, but I’m not the type to shy away from anything either,” said Marquardt, who had 18 points in 18 playoff games last season.
“Playing for an affiliate team, the systems are pretty familiar as well. (Daniels) didn’t throw any curveballs at me, but I’m not a very complex player anyway. I go up and down my wing and go to the net.”
Marquardt, a native of North Bay, Ontario, has 44 points (15g, 29a) in 180 career AHL games. Prior to the expiration of his entry-level contract after the 2010-11 season, he spent time in three NHL organizations – the Blue Jackets, the Boston Bruins and the Edmonton Oilers – and also made an appearance at the Ottawa Senators’ training camp prior to being drafted.
There is no timetable on the return of Rutherford, who suffered an injury during Tuesday’s practice. The 25-year-old forward posted two assists in nine games since the Checkers recalled him from Florida on Jan. 11.