The Carolina Hurricanes' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate the Charlotte Checkers finished the 2011-2012 season in ninth place in the Western Conference, with an overall record of 38-29-3 and barley missing the playoffs. The success of the Charlotte Checkers directly relates to the success of the Carolina Hurricanes because the future of the team is developed in the minor leagues. Many current Carolina Hurricanes players spent time with the Charlotte Checkers, and that experience they received has translated well for NHL play. For the Hurricanes to be as successful as possible next season, they will need to smartly utilize their minor league team and efficiently decide which players should play at which level.
The Charlotte Checkers will return a handful of key players for the upcoming 2012-2013; these players will not only help lead the Checkers into the playoffs, but could also see time at the NHL level helping the Hurricanes towards the playoffs. Chris Terry, Bobby Sanguinetti, Zach Boychuk, Jerome Sampson and Zac Dalpe are all players that played at least 56 games for the Charlotte Checkers this past season (Terry led the way with 74 games played and Dalpe had only 56), but are also players that could very well see time playing for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Zack Boychuk, Jerome Sampson and Zac Dalpe all saw time at the NHL level this past season, and fans should look to see all of them playing for the team again at some point this season. Yet, all three players are also leading the way at the minor-league level by each scoring at least 32 points for the team while playing in at least 56 games. Zach Dalpe had 18 goals and 14 assists (32 total points) in 56 games played, Jerome Sampson scored 20 goals and tallied 17 assists (37 total points) in 57 games played and Boychuk led the trio in scoring by netting 21 goals and adding 23 assists (44 total points) in 64 games played this past season. While all three should start the 2012-2013 season at the AHL level, all three should see time at the NHL level during the season.
Chris Terry and Bobby Sanguinetti were both recently resigned to two-year contracts, and could both see time at the NHL level this upcoming season. Terry led the Charlotte Checkers in games played and scoring this past season with 16 goals and 43 assists (59 total points) in 74 games played. Sanguinetti was second on the team in scoring with 10 goals and 40 assists (50 total points) in 60 games played in the 2011-2012 season. Chris Terry provides speed and a natural scoring touch on the left wing, and could see time on the fourth line of the Carolina Hurricanes this upcoming season. Sanguinetti adds size and a scoring touch from the blueline and could very well see time for the Hurricanes on defense.
Both the Carolina Hurricanes and Charlotte Checkers both have the same common goal in mind, play as efficiently as possible to make a deep run into next season's playoffs. But for the Hurricanes to make the run they want to, and can, make they will need to use players from the minor leagues effectively. Players like Zac Dalpe, Sack Boychuk and Jerome Sampson have all flourished at the minor-league level, but also have NHL experience and will most likely see more NHL level playing time in the upcoming season. Other players like Bobby Sanguinetti and Chris Terry have proven themselves at the minor league level, but should look to get NHL level playing experience this season.
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