In need of an offensive spark, the Charlotte Checkers decided to give their ECHL affiliate in Florida a holler yesterday to call up left winger Justin Shugg. This will be Shugg’s second stint with the Checkers, as he got to play 33 games with the team last year before injuries set him back and he had to finish the year in the ECHL. Shugg was the Hurricanes fourth round pick in the 2010 NHL draft and is a very creative offensive player who may help the Checkers get out of their recent scoring slump. There were many who thought Shugg would be in the AHL full-time this year because of how well he performed in the ECHL the previous season but there wasn’t any room for him on the roster which is partially due to the NHL Lockout.
The general thought was that Shugg should be able to dominate in the ECHL given his talent and he has done that so far if you go by his scoring line of 11 goals and 22 points in 19 games. This is basically him building off how he ended last season, as he should be expected to excel at that level. He was a terrific goal-scorer at juniors and was also pretty effective offensively when he was healthy with Charlotte last year. Whether or not he will produce at a higher level or have a future in the NHL remains to be seen, but it looks like he is going to get another shot with the Checkers starting with tonight’s game against the Milwaukee Admirals.
The question is how will Charlotte’s head coach, Jeff Daniels, use Shugg because the Checkers have plenty of wingers at their disposal right now. Boychuk, Bowman, Terry and even Sutter have been producing this year so it’s hard to imagine that Shugg will take any of their spots in the lineup. However, with the Checkers losing six of their last seven games and scoring two or fewer goals in all of those losses, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Daniels change things up and give Shugg some more minutes. Shugg has been one of the Everblades top scorers this year, so the Checkers aren’t going to take him away from them just so he can be plugged in on the fourth line, or at least I hope that they do not plan to do that.
It was announced a few minutes ago on Twitter by Paul Branecky that Jerome Samson will be a healthy scratch tonight to make room for Shugg, so it sounds like he is going to get some decent minutes, whether it be in the top-six or on the third line. After playing so well with the Everblades, it’s hard to say that Shugg didn’t earn this call-up so let’s hope he can make the most of whatever ice time he gets tonight. I doubt his presence alone will break the Checkers out of their slump but inserting another goal-scorer in the lineup is never a bad thing.