Checking In (By Jordan Futrell): And We’re Back!

Checking In (By Jordan Futrell): And We’re Back!

Welcome back Checking In fans! The Charlotte Checkers were back in action to start the season on Friday (Oct.6), against the Hartford Wolfpack. Starting off the season right the Checkers defeated the WolfPack 5-4, and would go onto win three of their first four games of the year. Saturday (Oct. 7) they traveled to Wilkes-Barre and defeated a scrappy Penguins squad 5-2. All hopes of an undefeated season were lost when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers handed the Checkers their first loss on Friday (Oct. 13) by a score of 5-3. But Charlotte would get the revenge the next night (Oct.14) and best the Sound Tigers 3-2.   Charlotte Checkers’ Three Stars #3: Picking up right where he left off last season, Andrew Miller played terrific to start the year. The veteran started on the first line, giving the team valuable minutes in tight game situations. He showed great patience on offense, rarely forcing the issue and turning over the puck. He also provided solid minutes on the power play, finding open teammates on multiple occasions for scoring opportunities near the net. His effort tallied him a goal and four assists for a productive first two weeks of the season. But Miller’s contribution to this team cannot be just measured by just stats. He is a calming presence on the ice for all his younger teammates by not getting flustered and staying poised in late game scenarios. That is a tremendous example to set for all the new prospects that Checkers have on the roster and it will be dividends as the season goes on. #2: Warren Foegele exploded onto...
2017-18 Charlotte Checkers Season Preview — By Jordan Futrell

2017-18 Charlotte Checkers Season Preview — By Jordan Futrell

Matt’s comments: I am absolutely thrilled to have Jordan Futrell returning to Canes and Coffee for his third season covering the Charlotte Checkers. His regular updates with a ‘from the rink’ viewpoint from tracking the Checkers as closely as I track the Hurricanes are incredibly valuable. Last season, Jordan was really high on Haydn Fleury BEFORE the masses made their way to considering him a likely NHLer in 2017-18. Here is hoping that Jordan can similarly find the next player ready to impact the Hurricanes roster during the 2017-18 season and give us an early heads up.   (Re) introduction for Jordan Futrell My name is Jordan Futrell, and I am currently a junior that is majoring in Communication and minoring in Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. This will be my third season on the Canes and Coffee writing staff, and I am looking forward to another exciting year covering the Checkers for fans of the website. After playing and enjoying youth hockey for many years, I realized around the 7th grade that I probably would not ever make it to any professional level of hockey. Even though I knew the NHL was not a likely career destination for me, I made the decision that I wanted to work with the game in sports media because what I loved most in life was sports, especially hockey. I knew even at that early age that I wanted to work in the sports industry for the rest of my life and that feeling has still not changed to this day. My love for the Canes dates back...
Ranking the Carolina Hurricanes prospects — Part 3A: Forwards (#1-5)

Ranking the Carolina Hurricanes prospects — Part 3A: Forwards (#1-5)

After a delay while covering the news of Brett Pesce’s contract extension (‘Initial thoughts’ are HERE, and ‘A second level of detail is HERE.), today’s Daily Cup of Joe is part 3A of a series assessing and ranking the Hurricanes prospects. Part 1 featured the five goalie prospects, and part 2 assessed the 15 defensemen in the Hurricanes organization. Part 3A today starts into the sizable group of prospect and AHL veteran forwards. So I can discuss at least the top half of the group in some detail without writing a novel, the forwards will be split into a couple parts.   Forwards Whereas the Hurricanes blue line prospect pool has a couple good high-end prospects but is actually a bit thin simply because so many young players have already jumped to the NHL level (which is obviously the goal, so that is a good thing), I would say that Francis’ restocking of the prospect pool is complete at the forward position. My rough count is 9 forwards who are capable of playing in the top half of an NHL roster and a good mix of centers and wings, size and speed, and skill and size. At the NHL level, I think the Hurricanes current strength is its young defense, but one level lower in the prospect pool I think the greatest strength is at the forward position. Without further ado, here are the top 5 forward prospect rankings…   Prospects with top half of the roster potential and scoring upside #1 – Julien Gauthier (Charlotte Checkers-AHL) Gauthier (Article log HERE) is nearly in a class by himself in...
Ranking the Carolina Hurricanes prospects — Part 2: Defensemen

Ranking the Carolina Hurricanes prospects — Part 2: Defensemen

Early on Monday morning, I started on a tour of the Hurricanes prospect pool and even talked myself into forging down the road of doing rankings at least at a positional level. The first article in the series which you can find here addressed the goalies.   Defensemen Part two will look at the prospect pool for the blue line. Because the Hurricanes have spent so many recent high draft picks on defensemen and also benefited from Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce rising up ahead of schedule, the general perception in our Hurricanes hockey community seems to be that the team is deep in terms of youth on the blue line. That is very clearly true at the NHL level where the team boasts a top with an average age under 23, but the rapid rise of the young NHL group has actually left a bit of a gap behind them in terms of the prospect pool. Francis restocked a bit in the 2017 NHL draft selecting three defensemen and there are still a couple higher-end players who are near NHL-ready but the volume of depth is actually still a little bit light right now. Without further ado, here is my ranking for the Hurricanes defense prospect pool…   Established prospects with top half of the roster potential #1 – Haydn Fleury (Charlotte Checkers-AHL) Fleury (Article log HERE) tops my list of prospect defensemen based on both reasonably high upside and a high probability of at least some leve of success. I have had him penciled in as a #5/#6 defenseman at the NHL level for some time now....
Ranking the Carolina Hurricanes prospects — Part 1: Goalies

Ranking the Carolina Hurricanes prospects — Part 1: Goalies

If you were away from hockey for a slow late July weekend, Canes and Coffee turned two years old on Saturday. Here is a short article with a tiny bit of history and a few tidbits on the future without spoiling any fall surprises. To date, I have never written an all-encompassing “top 20 prospects” type of article. I do not have anything against them. I think they are interesting reads if researched well by someone knowledgeable about the players (not all are) and considered in full context. But a couple issues have always stood in the way of breaking down and just writing one. First is that trying to rank players of different positions in one pool has always seemed odd for me. How does a possible steady defenseman stack up against a risky by high-ceiling potential goal scorer? And where even do goalies, especially young ones who are still at least three years away from being NHL-ready, compare to players who could make the NHL squad next year? And how do you compare a player with a fairly high probability of making it to the NHL but with a low checking line ceiling to a wild card with a ton of skill who could either be a top 6 forward or a complete bust? But with the slow part of summer upon and the state of the Canes prospect pool being a fun topic of discussion right now, I will at least take a step in the direction of a ‘top 20’ with a try at evaluating and ranking Hurricanes prospects by position. Once I finish that,...
Hurricanes sign Patrick Brown and Jake Chelios to bolster AHL roster and NHL depth

Hurricanes sign Patrick Brown and Jake Chelios to bolster AHL roster and NHL depth

Today it was announced that the Hurricanes had signed defenseman Jake Chelios (who was qualified yesterday) and forward and captain Patrick Brown to new contracts. Both players were key veteran components of the team that surged and broke the playoff drought for professional hockey in North Carolina when the Charlotte Checkers surged late and pushed into the playoffs. Combined with Monday’s Hurricanes’ moves that saw Trevor Carrick re-signed and Daniel Altshuller and Andrej Nestrasil turned loose when they were not qualified, the Charlotte Checkers’ roster is starting to take shape. I wrote about the set of decisions for Francis for the AHL level back on May 16. I also wrote about the changing of the guard at forward with so many players moving up from the junior ranks on May 8.   Patrick Brown When Derek Ryan departed, Patrick Brown took over as the captain of the Charlotte Checkers. He is a solid example of a good fringe AHL/NHL player. He is a good example, strong leader and productive player at the AHL level. And he has enough experience that he can be a serviceable #14 or #15 forward available from the AHL ranks in the event that a rash of injuries hits. With the Hurricanes forward depth increasing and the fourth line likely to be stocked with more scoring, I do not see Brown being in the mix at the NHL level unless injuries necessitate it.   Jake Chelios Like Brown, Jake Chelios was a key part of the Checkers’ 2016-17 success. He is a solid partner for a young player and a good experienced AHL defenseman. Like Brown,...