Jason Shaya's 10 Thoughts
During the season, Checkers broadcaster Jason Shaya checks in each week with his 10 Thoughts - a series of observations about the team and the hockey world in general.
1. The Checkers started their American Hockey League schedule during the inaugural season in Hartford and coming back into the Eastern Conference they will battle the Wolf Pack again for the first game of the season on Friday night. As of this moment, the roster might not be set but I can say this is the most excited I've seen both staff and players alike. I think everyone realizes we might have something special going on both in Raleigh and Charlotte. Hurricanes General Manager Ron Francis has done an incredible job. It's a very long season and you can never tell what your roster will look like week to week but as of this moment, both the Checkers and Hurricanes should be very competitive regardless of whom they face every night.

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2. I don't think anyone is more excited to start the season than head coach Mike Vellucci. His previous coaching gig lasted 14 seasons with the Plymouth Whalers and Vellucci left that organization with awards for coach of the year, executive of the year and, probably best of all, he guided dozens of players into the NHL along the way. I can tell you that everyone with the Checkers is very happy he is at the helm.

3. Since I don't believe in jinxes, I'll just say it now: there is no chance this year's power play will be as bad as last season's. I've watched a lot of hockey in my career, but last year's special teams display was amongst the worst I've ever seen. That will change for the better.

4. I've had a chance to watch Alex Nedeljkovic a bit here during camp. He seems to have a renewed energy and focus. He certainly looks more confident in the crease. Nedeljkovic will be put to the test this year and people close to him, including Mike Vellucci, are very confident we will see a much-improved goaltender.

5. The forwards this year might be the deepest Charlotte has ever had in the AHL since the inaugural season. The competition for roster spots is very high and that is also in part because of the depth of the Hurricanes who are certainly going to make a push for the playoffs.

6. The line that propelled the Checkers into the playoffs last year, and mostly dominated in the first round, is back Valentin Zykov-Lucas Wallmark-Andrew Miller could wreak havoc on the entire Eastern Conference.

7. The player making waves during Checkers camp is Nick Schilkey. He was second in scoring at Ohio State last season putting up 41 points and a team leading 27 goals in 35 games. He had four goals in two exhibition games including a hat trick on Friday against the Phantoms.

8. This is the first season in the AHL for the Checkers that Brian Maddox isn't here. The long time athletic trainer for the team was rewarded with a call-up to the Hurricanes this summer. After working over 1,000 games in the minors, no one deserved it more than Maddox. The same 10 phrases and bad jokes will all be missed by the hockey staff.

9. An unfortunate injury occurred during the exhibition games in Lehigh Valley when Checkers defenseman Brenden Kichton left the game with an upper-body injury. As we understand it, he will not be available to the team for the opening weekend in Hartford and Wilkes-Barre.

10. The broadcast: Every single game will steam audio live through our long time partner at ESPN 730. You can go to the main page of the website and click the "listen" button or download the Checkers app and listen to the games on your phone. AHLLIVE.com is the place to go in order to view every game and there are specials for fans that make purchases early. Every singe game will go on-air 15 minutes before scheduled puck drop. We will have highlight packages of previous games, interviews with coaches, players, management and more. We will be on the air on Friday at 7 p.m. and you can connect with me on twitter @jason_shaya. Download the Checkers app now! Pray for our safe travels.