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!


The Thunderbirds’ first season in Springfield, led by longtime Checkers assistant coach Geordie Kinnear, was a tough one, with the new club falling out of playoff position in the tightly contested Atlantic Division. The team’s struggling power play (third-worst in the AHL) contributed to their deficiencies on offense, which ranked in the bottom 10 in terms of goals per game, but the Thunderbirds thrived defensively, tying for the ninth-best goals-against per game in the league. They’ll have to rebuild between the pipes, however, as all four netminders who appeared last season – Sam Brittain, Reto Berra, Adam Wilcox and Mike McKenna – have all moved on from the organization.

Key Departures


Paul Thompson

Former AHL All-Star set career high in helpers, ranked second on Springfield in scoring and appeared in 21 NHL games before inking a deal with Vegas during the offseason

Brody Sutter

Longtime Checker inked a new deal with Manitoba after injuries limited him to just 19 games with Springfield last season



Chase Balisy

Alternate captain set career highs in assists and points in his first campaign in the Florida organization, leading the Thunderbirds in both categories as well

Mackenzie Weegar

23-year-old blue liner tied for seventh among league defensemen with 14 goals, also set career highs in assists and points while finishing third on the Thunderbirds in scoring and making his NHL debut with Florida Danny Baxter



Alexandre Grenier

Winger registered his third consecutive 40-point season a year ago with Utica, ranking second on the team in goals and third in scoring

Curtis Valk

Another addition from Utica led the Comets in helpers during his first full AHL campaign, ranking second on the team in scoring