The 2017-18 season is creeping closer and closer, and the Checkers’ move to the Eastern Conference means a whole new slate of opponents. For the new few weeks, we’ll take a look at each of Charlotte’s new Atlantic Division rivals!


With the league’s top-ranked offense at their disposal, the Phantoms rolled through the 2016-17 campaign to clinch the second-best record in the Eastern Conference before bowing out to the Hershey Bears in the first round thanks to four losses decided by one goal each. That high-flying attack has lost some high-end talent heading into this coming season, but Lehigh Valley has retained several key pieces to last year’s regular season success. They’ll also likely return the same duo between the pipes as both Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz have been brought back into the organizational fold.

Key Departures


Mark Zengerle

College product moving on to Sweden after three straight 30-point seasons to start his pro career

Andy Miele

29-year-old forward ranked in top 10 in AHL for assists each of the last four seasons, inked deal with Malmo of Sweden’s top league for next year



Chris Conner

Veteran journeyman hit career highs in goals (22) and points (56) last year in his 11th pro season, ranking third on the Phantoms in scoring

T.J. Brennan

Three-time Eddie Shore Award winner and top scoring defenseman hit 60-point mark for second straight season in 2016-17



Derek Hulak

Looking to bounce back from tough year with Utica after consecutive 40-point seasons to start his pro career

Phil Varone

Proven AHL scorer led Binghamton in assists (36) and tied for the team scoring lead (51) a season ago