Phil Di Giuseppe
The Checkers have had multiple players stand out and impress so far this season. But no one has maybe stood out more than a 22-year-old from Toronto. Phil Di Giuseppe has fourteen points in twenty games so far this season, and he has been everything the team and coaching staff could have hoped for. Di Giuseppe has been a consistent presence on the first line all year for the Checkers, and he has shown that his greatest asset on the ice is his knowledge for the game.
All season, Di Giuseppe has been at the right place at the right time on the ice and that is no fluke; that is just the way he plays. At first glance Di Giuseppe might not blow people away with his play, but if you follow him closely while he is on the ice, especially in the offensive zone, his knowledge for the game jumps out. He is always down near the net looking for rebounds or looking to set up one of his teammates with a nice pass down near the goal. A former Hurricanes player that would be a good comparison for Di Giuseppe is Ray Whitney. Both are smart players that might not blow someone away at first, but if they are followed closely on the ice, it is clear to see that they are both elite in their own right. Di Giuseppe obviously has a long way to go to reach Ray Whitney status, but if he turns out to be half as good as Whitney at the NHL level, the Hurricanes will have a solid player.
It is starting to look more likely that Di Giuseppe will soon be called up to the Hurricanes with the problems the team is having scoring. He could be a spark for an offense that has been stagnant most of the year. The Hurricanes on the other hand could also take the Detroit route and leave Di Giuseppe in Charlotte for the rest of the year and let him develop more until he is absolutely ready for the NHL. Whatever they decide to do one thing is for certain – Phil Di Giuseppe will be ready for whenever the call comes for him to head up to the NHL.
The Checkers had a productive week beating San Jose 3-1 on Tuesday (Nov. 24). They did slip up the very next day losing to San Jose on Wednesday (Nov. 25) 3-1, but they would go on to beat Iowa 7-4 on Saturday (Nov. 28) and Iowa again on Sunday (Nov. 29) 2-1.
Three stars of the week
Justin Shugg gave the Checkers the solid consistent minutes they expect from him this past week putting up three points in the four games the Checkers played. Shugg continues to show that he is still one of the top point scorers for this team. Brock McGinn scored a whopping four goals in the four games the Checkers played. McGinn looked much more comfortable playing with this Checkers team this past week then he did the past two weeks. Zach Boychuk ended his goal drought on Tuesday scoring his first goal of the season. He also had a more goal on Saturday in the Checkers comeback against Iowa. Hopefully now for the Checkers and Boychuk the goals will come in bunches for the team’s all time leading scorer.
Derek Ryan moved passed Phil Di Giuseppe for the team leading in points, with the three assists he had against Iowa on Saturday. Ryan continues to impress in his first year with the Checkers. Brody Sutter also pitched in a goal and an assist on the week. Both points came on Saturday in the Checkers big comeback win over Iowa.
While he did have an assist this past week Sergey Tolchinsky has been quiet. Not many people at the beginning of the season were expecting Tolchinsky to only have seven points in the first twenty games of the season. Hopefully for the Checkers and Tolchinsky, this slump does not last much longer.
Injury and roster notes
T.J. Hensick and Rasmus Rissanen missed all four games this past week due to injury. Keegan Lowe missed three games this past week due to injury. Drayson Bowman was a healthy extra all four games. The Checkers called up Carter Sandlak from the Florida Everblades, and sent down Justin Agosta on Monday (Nov. 30) The Hurricanes sent down Jaccob Slavin on Tuesday (Dec. 1) and called up Ryan Murphy from a short stint in Charlotte.
Forward lines as of now
First line: Brock McGinn-Derek Ryan-Justin Shugg
Second Line: Zach Boychuk-Phil Di Giuseppe-Sergey Tolchinsky
Third line: Brendan Woods-Brody Sutter-Patrick Brown
Fourth line: Kyle Hagel-David Wohlberg-Erik Karlsson
Defensive pairings as of now
First pairing: Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Second pairing: Keegan Lowe-Jaccob Slavin
Third pairing: Jake Chelios-Mike Cornell