Following a month-long stint with the Checkers, the first AHL experience of his career, the Checkers reassigned forward Justin Shugg to the ECHL’s Florida Everblades on Thursday.
Shugg, a 19-year-old rookie, returns to the league where he spent the season’s first five games, recording a then-team-high eight points (3g, 5a) while earning ECHL Player of the Week honors just prior to his Oct. 27 recall to the Checkers. In 12 games with Charlotte, the Carolina Hurricanes’ 2010 fourth-round draft choice posted 3 points (1g, 2a), all of which came during his last four contests.
As was the case during the preseason, it would appear Shugg was merely a casualty of the numbers game. The Checkers’ forward corps is as deep as it has been all season due to reassignments from the NHL (Drayson Bowman, Zach Boychuk, Zac Dalpe and Brett Sutter – who have all suited up for the Hurricanes this season – are currently with Charlotte) and injuries (other than Cedric McNicoll, who has been out since Oct. 29 with a lower-body injury, all are healthy).
Those factors resulted in more players than there were available spots in the lineup, with Matt Pistilli, who recorded a three point game just last week, and Jared Staal each sitting out the last two games as healthy scratches. One of those players will make his return as the Checkers take on Texas on Friday in the first of a two-game trip that will also see it face San Antonio on Sunday.
For coach Jeff Daniels, having a rookie participate in that rotation was not the best option.
“It’s not ideal, especially when you have a young guy that’s sitting out,” Daniels said last week. “He’s been working harder and is making the adjustment to the speed at this level. He wants to stay here, and he’s been working at everything we’ve asked him to going back to the beginning of the season when he went to Florida.”
Should reinforcements again be needed from the ECHL – a near-certainty as the organization’s top-to-bottom run of good health is bound to change at some point – Shugg will be at the top of the list.