The Checkers are losing one of their leading scorers, but they could be getting another one in return.
On Wednesday, the Carolina Hurricanes announced that they will recall Checkers forward Drayson Bowman to fill the void caused by an injury to Jussi Jokinen. At the same time, the Hurricanes also assigned forward Zac Dalpe, named to the AHL’s All-Rookie team while with Charlotte last season, on a conditioning stint as he looks to work his way back from a lower-body injury that has sidelined him for the past two weeks.
In Bowman, the Checkers will lose their co-leading goal scorer (5) at a time when he’s feeling his most confident.
“All around I feel really good about my game right now,” he said. “I know what I’m going to do when I go out there, and that’s a good feeling.
“(Being recalled) is a good opportunity, and I’m hoping to show them more than I did last time and stay up there.”
Coach Jeff Daniels was complimentary of Bowman’s all-around play (he currently leads the Checkers with a plus-5 rating) as well as his scoring.
“One of the things for him was trying to get back his goal-scoring touch from junior, and he’s been off to a good start with that, but it’s really his concentration away from the puck,” said Daniels. “He’s not cheating offensively, and has even asked for a bigger role on the defensive side.”
Specifically, that request from Bowman was for more time killing penalties, which Daniels had begun to grant on the team’s recent three-game road trip.
“I told him that I thought it would help me stay in the flow of the game and that I want to be leaned on to help win games that way as well,” said Bowman. “(Daniels) has been great about giving me that opportunity.”
The arrival of Dalpe, who scored 57 points (23g, 34a) in his only AHL season with the Checkers before making the Hurricanes out of training camp this year, should help offset the loss of Bowman for a team that will also be without injured forwards Cedric McNicoll and Justin Shugg when it departs for another three-in-three set on Thursday.
“We’re losing Bo, but we have a nice replacement,” said Daniels. “Obviously Dalpe had a good run with us last year and brings us that scoring touch and speed off the rush.”
As was the case with defenseman Justin Faulk over the past few weeks, players coming down from Raleigh tend to get an extraordinary amount of ice time. However, Daniels said that the team needed to be careful with Dalpe.
“As much as you’d like to run him while you have him, he’s been off for a bit and we have to be careful with that,” said Daniels. “He’ll probably see a lot of ice time on Friday and then we’ll see how things go after that, but as long as he’s here he’s going to be a big part of our team.”
The duration of Dalpe’s stay with the Checkers remains in question. Though Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford told the Raleigh News and Observer
that he expected Dalpe to be recalled quickly if all goes well, that will still depend on his performance and how soon he can get back up to speed after missing the last seven games.
It could also depend on the play of Bowman and Zach Boychuk, who could make a case to stay in the NHL long-term.
Daniels said that he expected McNicoll, who was injured during last Friday’s game in Oklahoma City, and Shugg, who was cut by his own skate in what Daniels called a “freak accident” during Tuesday’s practice, to return to the ice next week. However, their injuries leave the Checkers with just 11 forwards, with Daniels saying that he would recall one from Florida to join the team in Milwaukee, Grand Rapids and Rockford.
With goaltender Justin Peters ready to play this weekend, the Checkers will also reassign rookie goaltender John Muse to Florida. Daniels said that Peters would play one game this weekend, although he did not know which one.