If your head is still spinning from the expansion draft, former Checkers changing teams via trade and tracking two NHL affiliates’ activities during the draft, we’ve got you covered here.
THE EXPANSION DRAFTThe Checkers and 2019 Calder Cup champions Haydn Fleury and Morgan Geekie are all back together in the same organization as one of our new NHL affiliates, the Seattle Kraken, selected them in the expansion draft.
Seattle selected Fleury from Anaheim, which had acquired him in a trade with Carolina late last season, while Geekie was the Kraken’s pick from Carolina. It was the second time that Seattle GM Ron Francis was involved in the section of those players, first having done so with Hurricanes entry drafts.
Does that mean we could see Fleury and Geekie back in Charlotte next season? Well, we’d love to have them back, but we’d definitely rather see them do well in the NHL and help put the Kraken on the map. Furthermore, both would require waivers for an AHL assignment, and there is clearly demand for their services.
Seattle’s team-building activities are far from done as they’re expected to be active in free agency starting later this week, which makes it tough to predict which players selected in the expansion draft may trickle down to Charlotte.
For now, it’s worth noting that, of the 29 players Seattle selected that still remain with the organization, only Geekie and goaltender Joey Daccord (Ottawa) are on two-way contracts. That said, the Kraken did select several younger free agents that are coming off two-way contracts with their previous clubs, so it will interesting to see what happens there and what kind of new contracts they might get.
FORMER CHECKERS ON THE MOVEMany thought that Jake Bean would be the Kraken’s expansion draft choice from Carolina. Though the Kraken opted to select Geekie instead, Bean still found a new home when the Hurricanes traded him to Columbus for a second-round pick on draft day.
That move came on the heels of the shocking trade that sent Alex Nedeljkovic to the Detroit Red Wings as the Hurricanes were unable to agree to a new contract with their Rookie of the Year finalist. Nedeljkovic has already signed on with Detroit, while the Hurricanes will look to other options in goal.
Following the departures of Fleury, Geekie, Bean and Nedeljkovic over the last several months, Martin Necas and Steven Lorentz are the last remaining 2019 Calder Cup champions on Carolina’s established NHL roster. Brock McGinn and Warren Foegele, the only other Hurricanes that spent significant time with Charlotte, do not have contracts for next season.
THE ENTRY DRAFTAs the only AHL club with two NHL affiliates, we technically had twice as many players to keep our eye on this time around.
That said, with our Seattle affiliation only expected to last one season while arena construction for the Kraken’s eventual full-time affiliate in Palm Springs is underway, the Checkers of the future can most likely be found among the Panthers’ selections. A handful of players in Seattle’s first group of draftees are technically eligible to play in the AHL if assigned, including No. 2 overall pick Matty Beniers, though it’s rare to find the right mix of circumstances that could result in that. In Beniers' case, he likely would not turn pro unless the Kraken felt he could make an immediate impact on the NHL roster, but you never know.
Florida’s draft was headlined by first-round pick Mackie Samoskevich, a dynamic winger who helped the USHL’s Chicago Steel capture a Clark Cup championship last season. Should he not crack the NHL roster, he will play at the University of Michigan – a school that just produced three of the top five choices in the entry draft – this fall.
The Panthers went on to select five more players on the second day of the draft – defenseman Evan Nause (56), defenseman Vladislav Lukashevich (120), goaltender Kirill Gerasimyuk (152), forward Jakub Kos (184) and defenseman Braden Hache (210). The Panthers’ website has an excellent breakdown on each player, their traits and where they might be headed in the near future, but they’re also likely a year or two away from playing pro hockey - at least on this side of the ocean.
The Panthers’ move with the most immediate impact was undoubtedly the acquisition of forward Sam Reinhart from Buffalo, which cost them a future first-round choice and goalie prospect Devon Levi – the latest in a series of moves that have pushed the Panthers toward contention.
FREE AGENCYIt might not happen all at once when the free agent period kicks off this Wednesday, but the most important period in terms of building the Checkers’ roster is about to begin.
Over the coming weeks and months, it will be interesting to see who the Panthers and Kraken sign to two-way contracts, either in terms of bringing in new faces or taking care of players already in their systems – such as the Panthers did with Noah Juulsen and Lucas Carlsson earlier today. How the teams fortify their NHL rosters will also be important, as more depth for the NHL clubs also means more depth on down the line to their affiliates.
Keep an eye on the Roster page of our website as we do our best to track and summarize the available pool of players throughout the rest of an unusually short offseason.