Charlotte Forward Call-ups

The injury bug hit Carolina again earlier this week when it was announced that Tuomo Ruutu would miss three weeks with an “upper-body injury.” With the trade deadline approaching and the Hurricanes needing to make a decision on what they want to do with Ruutu in the future, this injury came at the worst time possible. Just to rub salt into the wound, Ruutu has been a key part of the team’s first line for the past two months and replacing him with call-ups from the AHL is going to be a tough task.

This did get me thinking about something, though. Which call-ups from Charlotte have seen the most success this year and who is the most likely to land a permanent spot on the Canes? The injury to Ruutu opens up the door for a few players and I would imagine that a few other roster spots will open up after the trade deadline depending on what happens. Carolina has quite a few forward prospects with decent upsides, so using the rest of the season to see if they fit into the team’s plans wouldn’t be a bad idea.

As of right now, Drayson Bowman and Jerome Samson are the two call-ups who are going to be depended on to replace Ruutu’s production and then some. My guess is that both of them will get a look on the first line during the next few weeks as an audition. Both have played in the top-six roles before, so playing with Eric Staal shouldn’t be anything too foreign for them. Bowman has seen modest success with the Canes and Samson has only been here for four games this season so the jury is still out on him.

How do Bowman and Samson look outside of their point totals and what other forwards could we expect to see in Raleigh? We’ll explore that after the jump.

Drayson Bowman

GP G A Pts CF CA CF/60 min CA/60 min TOI/G OZ%
17 2 4 6 61 57 4.32 4.03 12.46 52.50%

It looked like Bowman was a keeper after his two-goal performance against the Canucks in December but he hasn’t scored since that game. It might seem like Bowman has been underwhelming going by his point totals, but he’s actually been very productive at creating offense during his time with the Hurricanes. Bowman is averaging at least two shots on goal per game, has been on ice for about 4 scoring chances per game and is creating more than he’s giving up. His game away from the puck could use some improvement and that tends to get emphasized when a player isn’t scoring but I think Bowman’s low point total is mostly due to bad luck. Like I said earlier, he’s getting shots on goal and he’s been on ice for plenty of chances, so I wouldn’t expect his goal and point total to stay this low forever. Bowman’s personal shooting percentage is only 5.9% and the team is only shooting 6.3% at even strength when he’s on the ice so the bounces haven’t been going his way. I think this will change if he keeps getting consistent ice time and moving the puck in the right direction. I’m not expecting a huge outburst, but a slight increase in scoring should be expected.

Jerome Samson

GP G A Pts CF CA CF/60 min CA/60 min TOI/G OZ%
4 1 0 4 13 15 4.03 4.65 12.10 69.20%

It’s hard to make any judgements from these numbers because Samson has played in only four games this season. What I can tell you is that he has been lighting it up in the AHL for years scoring 124 goals and 256 points in 303 games. He finally scored his first NHL goal this season in what was his first game of the year. Samson’s long AHL career tells you that he’s struggled to make that next jump and that this season is probably a “make or break” year for him in terms of finding out if he’s suited for the NHL or not. These next couple of weeks are going to be very important for him and hopefully he takes advantage of it. He was in a similar boat as Bowman last year where the play was going in the right direction with him on the ice but the pucks just weren’t going in. Word is that he’s going to be playing with Eric Staal tomorrow so he’s going to be put in a position to succeed and hopefully he takes advantage of it. 

Zac Dalpe

GP G A Pts CF CA CF/60 min CA/60 min TOI/G OZ%
16 1 2 3 32 34 3.49 3.71 8.58 63%

Many thought Dalpe would be on the roster full-time this year but that hasn’t quite happen. A pre-season injury and Paul Maurice held him back and that’s kind of hindered his development at the pro level. Under Muller, Dalpe has been playing in the top-six and he hasn’t exactly thrived in that role either and it’s tough to say when he’ll be back with the Canes. Charlotte’s had some injury and depth issues with their forward corps too so they might need him there for the time being. It’s disappointing that Dalpe isn’t contributing as much as we thought, but it might be best not to rush him for now.

Zach Boychuk

GP G A Pts CF CA CF/60 min CA/60 min TOI/G OZ%
13 0 2 2 22 18 3.37 2.76 7.52 55.20%

If there’s one prospect that Canes fans are frustrated the most with, it’s Boychuk. He is in the final year of his entry level deal and still hasn’t been able to earn a full-time spot on the Canes roster. It’s tough to say that he’s gotten much of a chance with Carolina this year, though. He was limited to the fourth line under Maurice and was at least moving the puck in the right direction. Boychuk has yet to see any playing time under Muller and it’s kind of frustrating because Muller has been giving younger players top-six minutes and it would be nice to see how Boychuk performs when he isn’t glued to the fourth line. I know that the Checkers need depth right now but Boychuk is a former first round pick and it would serve the Hurricanes well to see what they have in him before his ELC runs out.

Brett Sutter

GP G A Pts CF CA CF/60 min CA/60 min TOI/6 OZ%
15 0 3 3 11 24 1.52 3.31 7.25 41.50%

Another player who has spent most of his career in the AHL, Sutter isn’t much more than a fourth line plug-in who you can call-up for depth purposes. He isn’t going to score or create much offense but you can depend on him to play physical and….that’s pretty much it. His underlying numbers show that he hasn’t been great defensively this year but that’s probably due to him creating so little offense. Like I said, he’s basically only called upon for depth purposes, which could be needed if more players keep getting hurt.

Riley Nash

GP G A Pts CF CA CF/60 min CA/60 min TOI/6 OZ%
5 0 1 1 5 7 1.69 2.36 8.87 63%

A star at college, Nash has yet to translate that to the professional level as he’s scored 50 points in 121 games in the AHL. At the NHL level, there isn’t much to say about him because he’s played only five games. Most of that was spent on the fourth line, too. What I did notice is that he played well on the powerplay when there was more space to work with. That tells me that he could use some more time in the AHL to work on his all-around game. We could see him back in Charlotte this year but I have to think that are other names ahead of him.

Chris Terry

AHL Stats

GP G A Pts P/G
210 61 92 153 0.73

Chris Terry has been a nice surprise for the Canes. He was only a fifth round pick but he lit up the scoresheet during his last two years in junior hockey and has been very successful at the AHL level, too. I’m a little curious as to why he never got a look with the Hurricanes because his AHL numbers are impressive. I know that he is one of the Checkers best players and they need him for their playoff push but he is on the last year of his ELC and the Hurricanes might want to give him a shot eventually. Unfortunately, I don’t think that will be coming this year with the injuries that Charlotte’s been dealing with.

Evgenii Dadonov

GP G A Pts P/G
130 31 37 68 0.52

Dadonov has shown he can play a solid two-way game and stick on an NHL roster with Florida but his AHL numbers, for whatever reason, have always been underwhelming. I have to think that he might get a look with the Canes before the season is over because his contract is over after this year and it will be important to see if he fits in Muller’s system. Dadonov is still young and could be useful going forward but I do not know if we’ll see him in a Canes uniform before the season is over. Limited space and other players performing better make it hard for him to stand out.

There are some other players who could also be on the call-up list but I think these are the main players who are on Carolina’s radar right now. The next couple of months is going to be an important time for most of them as many are on expiring contracts and Carolina will have to decide which ones they want to extend qualifying offers to at the end of the year. Bowman and Samson are getting their chances now and there’s a good chance that both stay on the roster until the end of the year. It’s just as likely that neither will stick on the roster and one of the other players I listed as a breakout instead. Guessing which one will breakout will be the fun part.