On Saturday night the Charlotte Checkers defeated the Chicago Wolves to capture their first ever Calder Cup. The Checkers were a dominant regular season squad, and under head coach Mike Vellucci, carried that success directly into the postseason. In my December AHL recap, we discussed the “Best Developing AHL Teams”, of which, the Cane’s affiliate ranked number one. Although the team received outstanding contributions from their entire, and I mean entire lineup, a massive cog in their success this season was UNH alumni, Andrew Poturalski. It’s Poturalski’s story that really developed my interest in the Checkers this season and what inspired this article.
The 25-year-old forward was undrafted to the NHL, after a devastating first eligible campaign with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders. From then on, he flew under the radar of NHL squads, and more than likely focused his sights on getting an education. It wasn’t until his sophomore season at UNH that the NHL dream, once again, became a reality. Midway through that 52-point breakout campaign is when I started following him, and when the NHL took notice. Upon completing his second year, the Canes signed Poturalski to an ELC, but have left him to drive their AHL squad ever since – and now he’s an AHL playoff MVP. It’s his future that has me intrigued by the Checkers Championship. Does a 25-year-old with no draft pedigree, but an otherwise outstanding resume have a chance to become a fantasy darling? And if not, who from this powerhouse team will be the next to break out at the NHL level.
As I mentioned, the Checkers won by committee this year. Not the mid-range caliber type of committee either, there were several players from this young squad (average age – 24.1) that have a bright future in the NHL. That list includes, but is not limited to:
Following the links to any of the above players will give you the in-depth details of their fantasy future. Better yet, check out the Dobber Hockey store for our recen