The Carolina Hurricanes gave the Checkers their biggest offensive boost yet on Monday morning, reassigning forwards Zach Boychuk and Zac Dalpe to Charlotte while recalling forward Brett Sutter.
Dalpe’s most recent visit to Raleigh was a quick one, as the Checkers’ center, who has played the bulk of this season in the NHL, tallied a goal and assist in Charlotte as recently as Friday. Dalpe, who netted nearly a point per game with the Checkers last season (57 points in 61 games) was recalled to Carolina the following day and ended up serving as a healthy scratch on Sunday when it turned out that Patrick Dwyer, deemed a game-time decision for the match-up against Toronto, could enter the lineup after all.
Boychuk’s stay was much longer, as the third-year forward concluded the longest NHL stay of any player who started the season with the Checkers, having been with the Hurricanes since Oct. 25. In 13 games with the Canes, Boychuk recorded 2 assists and saw his ice time vary dramatically from as much as 15 minutes on Eric Staal’s line on Nov. 11 to as little as 3:54 on the fourth line just two games later.
The additions of those two players will come as a welcome addition to a team that has been looking for an offensive boost in recent weeks. Though the Checkers tallied four goals in their last game, a 4-3 win against Rockford, they’ve steadily fallen to 21st in the AHL in goals per game (2.72), with coach Jeff Daniels becoming wary of his team’s tendency to cheat defensively in search of a remedy.
Coincidence or not, the team’s offensive slide more or less coincides with the loss of Boychuk, who had 6 points (4g, 2a) in seven games at the time of his recall and still ranks as the Checkers’ fourth-highest goal scorer. At the time of Boychuk’s departure, the Checkers averaged 3.14 goals per game, a mark that tied for 10th in the AHL. Last season, the now-22-year-old finished as the team’s scoring leader with 65 points (22g, 43a) in 60 games.
Though the Checkers immediately become a more dangerous offensive team following Monday’s moves, the loss of Sutter, arguably the team’s best defensive forward and top penalty killer, should not be understated, as others will need to fill that void. However, the grinding style of Sutter, the Checkers' captain, should be a better match for the Hurricanes’ fourth line.
In 14 games this season, Sutter, 24, has 2 goals and 2 assists, including the Checkers’ only shorthanded goal. He begins his second NHL stint of the season, having played four games between Oct. 18 and Oct. 25, earning 1 assist. Sutter is expected to join the Hurricanes for Monday's game in Philadelphia.
Monday’s transactions give the Checkers 13 forwards to take with them to Norfolk for Wednesday’s road contest. When last faced with that number last Friday, right wing Jared Staal served as a healthy scratch.