On the eve of what were likely going to be their most significant roster cuts of the preseason, the Carolina Hurricanes may have caused an even bigger shakeup to the lineup picture in Charlotte.
As early as possible on Sunday morning – 12:36 a.m., to be exact – the Hurricanes traded former Checkers forwards Zac Dalpe and Jeremy Welsh to Vancouver in exchange for 22-year-old forward prospect Kellan Tochkin and a fourth-round draft pick.
Both outgoing players were seemingly on the outside of Carolina’s opening-night plans this season. Dalpe, a prominent Checkers forward for each of the team’s first three campaigns, would need to go through waivers to get to the AHL for the first time in his career this season, while Welsh’s one-way contract will pay him $1 million regardless of where he plays, making such an assignment relatively expensive.
Dalpe, who ranks third all-time in goals (62), assists (69) and points (131) by a Checker in 171 total games played, was originally Carolina’s second-round draft pick in 2008 and played 41 total NHL games, scoring 10 points. Welsh, a 25-year-old, free-agent center signed out of college two seasons ago, split his rookie campaign between Charlotte and Carolina, scoring 26 points (14g, 12a) in 69 games with the Checkers.
In exchange, Tochkin, who checks in at 5-foot-10 and 176 pounds, could provide the kind of scoring depth to help offset the loss of Dalpe and Welsh at the AHL level. Though he has yet to play an AHL game, having spent his first pro campaign with Missouri of the CHL last season, he has produced at every level, scoring 44 points (15g, 29a) in 56 games last season and 243 points (91g, 152a) in 253 career WHL games with Everett, Medicine Hat and Prince Albert.
In the 2008-09 campaign, Tochkin, who hails from Abbotsford, led all WHL rookies in scoring with 74 points (20g, 54a) in 72 games. A native of Abbotsford, B.C., Tochkin, who played alongside current Checkers defenseman Rasmus Rissanen for two seasons in Everett, led all WHL rookies in scoring in 2008-09 with 74 points (20g, 54a) in 72 games. He has yet to make his AHL or NHL debuts.
With the net result of the trade leaving the organization with one less forward and injuries still lingering in Carolina, it is now unclear how many, if any, the Checkers will receive from the NHL in the coming days. Excluding Tochkin, the team now has 14 forwards on its roster, four of which have missed recent practices and exhibition games.
Cuts are more likely on defense, where the Hurricanes still have nine defensemen, though Tim Gleason is also thought to be day-to-day with an injury. Barring injury, the goaltending picture is set, with Justin Peters and Mike Murphy expected to be on the Checkers’ opening-night roster at Oklahoma City this Friday.