With the 2019-20 season ringing in a decade of AHL hockey in the Queen City, Checkers Director of Communications Nick Niedzielski is taking a look back at some of the top players, moments and more. First up is his list of the top 10 defensemen in franchise history, presented by The Independence Fund, with a new player revealed each day.

For more info on The Independence Fund's new Independence @ Home program, click here.

#1 Trevor Carrick

His Tenure

Taken in the fourth round of the 2012 draft by Carolina, Trevor Carrick began his pro career with Charlotte in 2014-15 and spent parts of the next five seasons with the Checkers

The Numbers

347gp | 40g | 141a | 181pts

Accomplishments

Franchise leader in games played … Franchise leader in goals by a defenseman … Franchise leader in assists by a defenseman and ranked third overall … Franchise leader in points by a defenseman and ranked third overall … Franchise leader in penalty minutes by a defenseman and ranked third overall … Franchise leader in power-play goals by a defenseman (13) … Franchise leader in power-play assists by a defenseman and tied for the overall lead in power-play assists (75) … Franchise leader in power-play points by a defenseman and ranked third overall (88) … Franchise leader in game-winning goals by a defenseman … Holds four of the top 10 highest single-season point totals in franchise history … Recorded the most game-winning goals by a defenseman in a single season (four in 2018-19) … Franchise leader in postseason assists … Ranked second in franchise history in postseason points … Calder Cup champion

Legacy

The longest-tenured Checkers in franchise history, Trevor Carrick was a staple on the blue line Charlotte for several different incarnations of the team, helping to guide the club toward over the years until reaching the ultimate goal of a Calder Cup title. Carrick was often tasked with handling a heavy workload over the years, being called upon frequently to eat minutes in any type of situation. A physical force who could bring an edginess to his game, Carrick was also one of the most prolific scoring threats from the back end that the franchise has seen. Whether it was a booming shot from the blue line that caused havoc on opposing goalies or a penchant for jumping in on the play to aid his forwards, Carrick had a nose for the net and was able to provide plenty of production for the Checkers over the years.

#2 Jake Bean

His Tenure

The 13th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Jake Bean began his pro career in 2018-19 and spent the majority of his first two pro seasons with Charlotte, appearing in two NHL games during his rookie campaign.

The Numbers

129gp | 23g | 69a | 92pts

Accomplishments

Tied for second in franchise history in goals by a defenseman … Ranked fourth in franchise history in assists by a defenseman … Ranked third in franchise history in points by a defenseman … Ranked fourth in franchise history in power-play goals by a defenseman … Ranked third in franchise history in power-play assists by a defenseman and sixth overall … Ranked third in franchise history in power-play points by a defenseman and ninth overall … Recorded the second-highest single-season point total by a defenseman (48 in 19-20) … Tied for the most single-season goals by a defenseman (13 in 18-19) … Tied for the second-highest single-season assist total by a defenseman (38 in 19-20) … Recorded the seventh-highest single-season point total by a rookie (43 in 18-19) … Calder Cup champion

Legacy

While the sample size isn’t huge, Jake Bean has quickly proven to be one of the most talented blue liners to don a Checkers sweater. He stepped into the AHL and was able to replicate the offensive prowess that made him a highly-touted prospect coming in, utilizing his shifty skating ability to escape pressure and move pucks up the ice and implementing a laser-quick release on his shot that has proven lethal from the blue line. Bean’s overall game took huge strides from year one to year two while he continued to shoulder even more of the offensive load, leading all AHL defensemen in scoring at the time of the season’s suspension.

#3 Michal Jordan

His Tenure

A fourth-round pick by Carolina in 2008, Michal Jordan began his pro career in 2010-11 and spent parts of each of the next six seasons with the Charlotte.

The Numbers

301gp | 23g | 72a | 95pts

Accomplishments

Ranked second in franchise history in games played by a defenseman and fourth overall … Tied for second in franchise history in goals by a defenseman … Ranked second in franchise history in assists by a defenseman and tied for eighth overall … Ranked second in franchise history in points by a defenseman … Tied for fifth in franchise history in power-play goals by a defenseman … Tied for fourth in franchise history in power-play assists by a defenseman and tied for eighth overall … Ranked fourth in franchise history in power-play points by a defenseman … Tied for the franchise lead in shorthanded goals by a defenseman (2) … Tied for second in franchise history in shorthanded points by a defenseman (3) … Served as captain for the 2014-15 season

Legacy

Michal Jordan was a staple on the Charlotte blue line, sitting as one of just four players to log 300 games in a Checkers sweater. The Czech defender brought a well-rounded game to the ice, showing responsibility in his own end while utilizing a physical edge, as well as chipping in offensively when called upon. Jordan’s growth as a positive presence in the locker room was also illustrated by being named the team captain in 2014-15, taking over from longtime Checker Brett Sutter.

#4 Bobby Sanguinetti

His Tenure

A first-round pick in 2006 by the Rangers, Bobby Sanguinetti played two pro seasons before being traded to Carolina ahead of the 2010-11 campaign and spending parts of the next three seasons with Charlotte. Then, after departing and spending five seasons bouncing between Europe and other AHL teams, Sanguinetti returned to Charlotte for the 2018-19 season.

The Numbers

155gp | 20g | 70a | 90pts

Accomplishments

Ranked 10th in franchise history in games played by a defenseman … Ranked fourth in franchise history in goals by a defenseman … Ranked third in franchise history in assists by a defenseman and tied for 10th overall … Ranked fourth in franchise history in points by a defenseman … Ranked second in franchise history in power-play goals by a defenseman … Ranked second in franchise history in power-play assists by a defenseman and fifth overall … Ranked second in franchise history in power-play points by a defenseman and seventh overall … Calder Cup champion

Legacy

Bobby Sanguinetti stands as one of the most lethal point producers to ever monitor the Charlotte blue line. Despite playing only parts of his first three seasons with the Checkers he was a constantly dominant force in all facets of the game, helping to run a top-tier power-play unit and turning in the franchise’s only 50-point campaign by a defenseman. Years later Sanguinetti returned to give a juggernaut Checkers squad a crucial boost down the stretch and help capture a Calder Cup.

#5 Roland McKeown

His Tenure

Drafted in the second round in 2014 by Los Angeles but traded to Carolina in 2015, Roland McKeown appeared in four games for Charlotte on an ATO in 2014-15 before beginning his pro career with the Checkers in 2016-17 and suiting up for the next four seasons.

The Numbers

271gp | 16g | 68a | 84pts

Accomplishments

Ranked fifth in franchise history in points by a defenseman … Ranked fourth in franchise history in games played by a defenseman and eighth overall … Ranked fifth in franchise history in goals by a defenseman … Ranked fifth in franchise history in assists by a defenseman … Franchise all-time leader in plus-minus (+61)

Legacy

Roland McKeown has been a model of growth during his time with Charlotte. He has shown the capability to play up and down the lineup, continuing to garner more trust and responsibility from the coaching staff over the years. McKeown racked up back-to-back seasons of at least a +30 rating which – while not the most telling stat – illustrates the consistency he brings to the blue line. Offensively, McKeown increased his production each year (and was on track to do so again in 2019-20) and sits with the second-most even-strength points by any defenseman in franchise history.

#6 Ryan Murphy

His Tenure

The 12th overall pick in 2011, Ryan Murphy made his Checkers debut at the conclusion of his junior career in 2012-13 and then spent parts of the next four seasons with Charlotte while also appearing in 151 NHL games for Carolina.

The Numbers

89gp | 10g | 56a | 66pts

Accomplishments

Ranked 11th in franchise history in goals by a defenseman … Ranked seventh in franchise history in assists by a defenseman … Ranked seventh in franchise history in points by a defenseman … Tied for fourth in franchise history in power-play assists by a defenseman (30) and tied for eighth overall … Ranked fifth in franchise history in power-play points by a defenseman (35) … Holds franchise record for longest point streak by a defenseman (12 games)

Legacy

Ryan Murphy spent his time in the organization bouncing between the AHL and NHL levels, but with the Checkers he was a point-producing machine. Since starting his career with 24 points in his first 25 AHL games, Murphy continued to consistently fill the scoresheet, landing in the top 10 defensemen scorers list with nearly half as many games played as the other entrants on the list.

#7 Jake Chelios

His Tenure

After spending his first two pro seasons in the Chicago Wolves organization, Jake Chelios signed with the Checkers ahead of the 2015-16 campaign and spent three seasons with Charlotte.

The Numbers

190gp | 15g | 62a | 77pts

Accomplishments

Ranked eighth in franchise history in games played by a defenseman … Tied for sixth in franchise history in goals by a defenseman … Ranked sixth in franchise history in assists by a defenseman … Ranked sixth in franchise history in points by a defenseman … Ranked sixth in franchise history in power-play assists by a defenseman (28) … Ranked sixth in franchise history in power-play points by a defenseman (32)

Legacy

Jake Chelios joined the Checkers and immediately found his place as a point producer on the Charlotte blue line. The offensive-minded defender earned himself an NHL deal from his strong play, posting back-to-back 30-point campaigns and helping break the Checkers’ postseason drought in 2016-17.

#8 DENNIS ROBERTSON

His Tenure

Drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 draft by Toronto but traded to Carolina in 2014, Robertson made his debut with Charlotte at the end of the 2013-14 season and spent his full rookie campaign there in 2014-15. He was traded to Chicago prior to the 2015-16 season and spent half the year in Rockford before being traded back to the Carolina system at the deadline. Robertson would then play three more season with the Checkers from 2016-19.

The Numbers

239gp | 15g | 40a | 55pts

Accomplishments

Ranked fifth in franchise history in games played by a defensemen and 11th overall … Ranked second in franchise history in game-winning goals by a defenseman (5) … Tied for fifth in franchise history in even-strength points by a defenseman (51) … Tied for sixth in franchise history in goals by a defenseman … Tied for eighth in franchise history in assists by a defenseman … Ranked eighth in franchise history in points by a defenseman … Calder Cup champion in 18-19

Legacy

Dennis Robertson served as a readily dependable piece on the Charlotte blue line over the years, a mainstay who could hold his own at any spot up and down the lineup. Robertson brought a physical presence to the ice but showed a penchant for coming through on the score sheet when needed.

#9 KEEGAN LOWE

His Tenure

Taken by the Hurricanes in the third round of the 2011 draft by Carolina, Lower turned pro in 2013 and he spent his first four pro seasons in the Carolina system before being traded to Montreal during the 2016-17 season in exchange for Philip Samuelsson.

The Numbers

237gp | 10g | 39a | 49pts

Accomplishments

Ranked ninth in franchise history in points by a defenseman … Ranked sixth in franchise history in games played by a defenseman … Ranked third in franchise history in penalty minutes by a defenseman and fifth overall (320) … Recorded the fifth-most penalty minutes by a defenseman in franchise history (106 in 14-15)

Legacy

One of the longest tenured defensemen in team history, Keegan Lowe was a mainstay on the Charlotte blueline through the middle of the decade. He was a consistently sturdy defender that leaned closer to the stay-at-home variety and brought his brand of toughness to the position. He also showed the ability to contribute on the offensive side when called upon as well, especially at even strength, where Lowe registered 88 percent of his points – the third-highest percentage among the top-10 scoring defensemen in franchise history.

#10 BRYAN RODNEY

His Tenure

After beginning his career with the ECHL version of the Checkers, Bryan Rodney worked his way to splitting time between the AHL’s Albany River Rats and the Carolina Hurricanes before the team moved to Charlotte. Rodney would be a part of one season with the Checkers, serving as team captain for the 2010-11 campaign.

The Numbers

77gp | 9g | 38a | 47pts

Accomplishments

Franchise-record holder for most power-play assists by a defenseman in a single season (25 in 10-11) … Tied for the second-most assists by a defenseman in a single-season (38 in 10-11) … Tied for the third-most points by a defenseman in a single season (47 in 10-11) … Ranked seventh in franchise history in power-play assists (25) and points (29) by a defenseman … Ranked 11th in franchise history in points by a defenseman (47) … AHL All Star in 10-11 … Served as team captain for 10-11 season

Legacy

Bryan Rodney may have only spent one season in a Checkers sweater, but it was an impactful one. Donning the captain’s C for the team’s inaugural campaign in Charlotte, he raked in the points on the blue line and more than doubled up the next closest defenseman on the team. Rodney was a menace on the man advantage, helping propel the Checkers to the third-best power-play percentage in the league in 2010-11, and he was a key contributor in the Checkers claiming a playoff berth in their first AHL season. While his time in Charlotte was short, Rodney left a stat line that still stands as one of the most impressive in franchise history.
Nicholas Niedzielski
Author: Nicholas NiedzielskiEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Communications Nicholas Niedzielski joined the Checkers in the summer of 2014. A Texas native, he previously worked for the AHL's Texas Stars.