Needing to add two more forwards from the lower leagues, the Checkers decided not to mess around.
Dealing with more injuries from over the weekend, the team signed ECHL All-Stars Casey Pierro-Zabotel and C.J. Severyn to professional tryout contracts on Tuesday. Pierro-Zabotel, a 24-year-old center, leads the entire league in scoring with 74 points (21g, 53) in 65 games with the Gwinnett Gladiators, while Severyn, 23, has 41 points (21g, 20a) and 100 penalty minutes in 59 contests with the Orlando Solar Bears.
Both players are expected to join the Checkers for Wednesday’s home game against Norfolk, rounding out the team’s lineup at forward after two centers – Sean Dolan and Luke Pither – suffered injuries over the weekend. Charlotte will still need to add a defenseman after losing Marc-Andre Gragnani and Michal Jordan in its last two games.
Pierro-Zabotel and Severyn, teammates on the ECHL squad that defeated the host Colorado All-Stars 7-3 in January, are former NHL draft picks. Their additions bring the total number of players on Charlotte’s roster that started the season in the ECHL up to 13, with a total of nine players out due to injury and a handful of others playing in the NHL with Carolina.
Pierro-Zabotel, who the Pittsburgh Penguins drafted in the third round (80th overall) in 2007, has exactly 30 more points than Gwinnett’s next-highest scorer while also leading the team in goals, assists and plus/minus (+19). The 6-foot-2, 202-pound native of Ashcroft, British Columbia, has already established professional career highs in each category.
Pierro-Zabotel has played nine career AHL games, all with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton during his rookie season in 2009-10, recording one assist. In his second season of junior hockey with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants in 2008-09, he led the league in scoring and set team records for most assists (79) and points (115) in a single season while playing alongside current Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane.
Severyn, the Calgary Flames’ seventh-round pick (186th overall) in 2007, has yet to make his AHL debut. The former Ohio State product, who played alongside the Checkers’ Zac Dalpe while with the Buckeyes, is in his second professional season, with the first spent entirely at the ECHL level with the Utah Grizzlies.
Severyn, a product of the US National Team Development Program, is enjoying something of an offensive breakout this season, having not previously scored more than 15 points in his five previous seasons in college and as a pro. The native of Beaver, PA, began this season with six points in first 21 games but has 36 in his last 38. He now ranks second on the team in goals and points while ranking third in assists and penalty minutes.
Pierro-Zabotel, whose entry-level deal with the Penguins expired this past summer, would become the third member of the 2007 draft’s third round to play for the Checkers, joining Evgenii Dadonov (71st overall to Florida) and Drayson Bowman (72nd overall to Carolina).
Severyn, who did not sign an entry-level contract with Calgary after graduating from Ohio State, is the second Pennsylvania native on the current roster, joining Pittsburgh’s Rob Madore.