Checking In with Brandon Stanley — Checkers make strong entrance into 2020

Checking In with Brandon Stanley — Checkers make strong entrance into 2020

By Brandon Stanley At the time of my last write-up, things didn’t look all that great for the Checkers. The defense was spotty. The offense and goaltending were pretty inconsistent. Overall, it really just looked like a transition year. Maybe a chance for young guns to get a long look and hopefully run with it, but to be honest the squad looked to probably not even be a playoff team. Alas, it’s amazing what two weeks can do for you. Now, the Checkers are in great shape, having ripped off a 7-1-0 record to roar into 2020 – and the playoff picture – on a very high note. The offense has found its footing with contributions from all over the lineup, both goalies have put forth outstanding outings, and suddenly the Calder Cup hangover looks to be over. Adjusted for games played (or by looking at points percentage), the Checkers now sit third in the Atlantic, after completing sweeps over two of the top three teams in the division. There is still half a season to be played, and this is clearly an example of how quickly things can change, but there is certainly a big arrow pointing very much “up” next to this team.    Game by game 12/17 – Checkers 6, Hartford Wolfpack 3 This game didn’t start particularly well. The Checkers were coming off a last-minute loss to Syracuse three days prior, and I groaned a bit when Vinni Lettieri did his best Alex Ovechkin impression just five minutes in, ripping a nasty one-timer high glove on Nedeljkovic for a powerplay goal. But from that point...
Checking In with Brandon Stanley — The mid-December edition

Checking In with Brandon Stanley — The mid-December edition

As we approach the holidays, the 2019-20 season has more or less solidified itself as a transition year for the defending Calder Cup champions. A repeat run is looking increasingly unlikely, as even a playoff spot is likely not in the cards at this point. However, that does not mean there are not some promising performances happening down in Charlotte. A few slow starts have started to turn around, and prospects that look like potentially big pieces down the road for the Canes have taken their games up a notch. The team is lacking the depth and firepower of the previous year, but these are some of the most promising performances as we hit right around a third of the way through the year. Instead of doing a game-by-game breakdown, for this edition we’ll take a look at how notable prospects are performing and what to watch for as we head into 2020.    Defensemen Jake Bean The good: The young offensive defenseman continues to be lethal offensively and on the powerplay, showcasing the skill that made him a highly-regarded defenseman and led to his first-round selection in 2016. Bean is leading the Checkers in points with 17 (5 goals, 12 assists) and still looks every bit the powerplay quarterback everyone hoped he could be. His shot has gotten significantly better since he first broke in as a pro, as his most recent goal against Syracuse displayed when he wired a wrist shot top-shelf from distance that beat the goalie cleanly. The bad: His defensive game hasn’t taken the step forward I’d hoped to see thus far. He’s not a physical...
Checking In with Brandon Stanley — 10/18 – 11/10 plus player spotlight on Alex Nedeljkovic

Checking In with Brandon Stanley — 10/18 – 11/10 plus player spotlight on Alex Nedeljkovic

Up and down we go, friends. The Charlotte Checker roller coaster is riding right along.  The Checkers, through the first month+ of the year, have looked about like what they are: a young team with a lot of new faces trying to find their identity. I headlined when the season started that they lost a 30-goal scorer, one of their best two-way centers, all three of their captains, and a few other important, ultra-talented others from their championship run that have graduated to the Canes. One night they’ll have a great showing and fill the net up, showcasing a steady defense and solid goaltending, the next they’ll look lost in their own end, hanging their goalies out to dry with odd-man rush after odd-man rush (hmmm… That sounds kind of familiar, actually). So, with three weeks’ worth of games to cover (eight games) and a player spotlight featuring a player that I think a lot of people are asking questions about at the moment, we’ll jump right in.   Charlotte Checkers 2, Utica Comets 8 So, yeah, this happened a couple weeks ago. We won’t dwell here long. The Checkers got punched in the mouth early and never recovered. Alex Nedeljkovic was pulled with about five minutes to go in the first period, with a sweet save percentage of .400 (three goals allowed on five shots), and Forsberg didn’t fare much better allowing the five more on 24 shots. Utica is a good team with some really nice young prospects, and they showcased their skill on this night. This was actually part of a month of October that saw...
Checking In with Brandon Stanley: Getting to know the new guys for the Charlotte Checkers

Checking In with Brandon Stanley: Getting to know the new guys for the Charlotte Checkers

Canes and Coffee is thrilled to announce that Brandon Stanley will again be offering regular updates on the Charlotte Checkers and with it the good group of Canes prospects playing at that level. You will find Brandon’s longer thoughts here, but please also consider following him on Twitter at @bwstanley26. Welcome back, Caniacs!   Charlotte Checkers departures After their thrilling run to the Calder Cup championship last spring, the Checkers saw a significant amount of changes heading into the 2019-20 season. Let’s just take a peep at this list of key players from last year’s roster no longer in Charlotte.  Andrew Poturalski – alternate captain, playoff MVP with 12 goals and 23 points in 18 games, leading scorer with a 70-point regular season, signed with Anaheim. Aleksi Saarela – team-leading 30 goal-scorer (and yes, I’m still salty about it. I hope the kid can figure out how to get his head right soon, if the reports are true, because the talent level is immense), traded to Chicago. Martin Necas – 52 point rookie season, looking great in the Canes lineup.  Trevor Carrick – 47 points from the blue line while serving as alternate captain. Traded to San Jose, where he’s finally getting a shot at some NHL ice time.  Nick Schilkey – really solid AHL player, responsible two-way game while chipping in 15 goals and 37 points and playing all over the lineup, in all situations. Now with Bridgeport, the Islanders AHL affiliate.   Patrick Brown – 19 goals and 35 points while being one of the team’s top penalty killers, and serving as captain. Signed by Vegas.  Nicolas Roy,...
Checking In with Brandon Stanley: Checkers’ player assessments — Roland McKeown, Alex Nedeljkovic, Martin Necas

Checking In with Brandon Stanley: Checkers’ player assessments — Roland McKeown, Alex Nedeljkovic, Martin Necas

Welcome back, Caniacs!    First off, I’d like to apologize for the delay in this series. I probably didn’t time it all that well to start with considering how it lined up with the summer events. I likely would have only been about three editions into the series by the time the draft and free agency came around, and that means a lot of my profiles would have been less meaningful with all the player movement we saw. In addition, I had a bit of a rough month or so with some big unforeseen changes in my life coming that I was dealing with. I didn’t even have my laptop for a couple weeks, so even if I had been mentally around at all I wouldn’t have been able to work on these anyway. So again, sorry for the prolonged absence, but we’ll pick it back up now and continue to look into how the seasons of the Canes prospects at the AHL level unfolded. This week we’ll look at Roland McKeown, Alex Nedeljkovic, and Martin Necas.    Roland McKeown – Defenseman (Acquired: Andrej Sekera deal with LA, February 2015; Drafted 2nd round, 50th overall by LA, 2014 Entry Draft) By the Numbers – 4 goals, 21 assists, 25 points in 70 games; 56 PIMs, +30 rating; 3 assists in 10 playoff games.  What Got Him Here? McKeown is very much cut from the Pesce mold, as a right-shot defenseman that takes care of his end of the ice first and foremost, but doesn’t add a ton of value in the offensive end. He is an excellent penalty killer...