AHL Today: A look at the PPL Center, Utica goes for five

AHL Today is a roundup of the night that was, the day ahead, and anything you may have missed. Your quick look at what’s going on around the league.

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To Watch:

  • LAKE ERIE at UTICA: As Lake Erie heads into Utica, this isn’t just a battle of some basement dwellers, it’s a battle of teams heading in very different directions. Winless in their last eight games, Lake Erie has dropped seven games in regulation as the Comets have snapped their most recent skid, rattling off four straight wins. Joacim Erikkson, fresh off being named Player of the Week, will likely get the call for the Comets. Lake Erie will get goaltender Sami Aittokallio back from his recall with the Colorado Avalanche. Only nine points out of a playoff spot, it’s a bit too early to really write off the Comets, but they’re going to need to extend this win streak and have many more like it to get back in the race.
  • CHARLOTTE at NORFOLK: The Admirals have points in six straight heading into their game with the visiting Checkers. Charlotte has won the last three meetings between the two clubs, but needed overtime and shootout to do so. On a four game winning streak themselves, the Checkers are going to be without leading scorer Aaron Palsuhaj, who just earned himself a call to the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. The Ads’ best bet is to keep the Checkers off the powerplay, as the team is moving along at nearly a 25% clip.

Moves:

Sami Aittokallio (G) From: Colorado Avalanche To: Lake Erie Monsters
Aaron Palushaj (F)
 From: Charlotte Checkers To: Carolina Hurricanes
Petr Mrázek (G) From: Detroit Red Wings To: Grand Rapids Griffins
Cody Beach (F) From: Kalamazoo Wings To: Chicago Wolves
Colton Sissons (F) From: Milwaukee Admirals To: Nashville Predators
Danny Hobbs (F) From: Elmira Jackals To: Binghamton Senators
Thomas Heemskerk (G) From: Worcester Sharks To: Quad City Mallards
Jordan Szwarz (F) From: Phoenix Coyotes To: Portland Pirates
Connor Murphy (D) From: Portland Pirates To: Phoenix Coyotes
Olivier Roy (G) From: Alaska Aces To: Abbotsford Heat
Drew MacKenzie (D) From: Alaska Aces To: Abbotsford Heat
Zach McKelvie (D) From: Abbotsford Heat To: Alaska Aces
Jordan Kremyr (F) From: Abbotsford Heat To: Alaska Aces
Jordan Schroeder (F) From: Utica Comets To: Vancouver Canucks
Nicholas Rioux (D) From: Iowa Wild To: Quad City Mallards
Brandon Pirri (F) From: Rockford IceHogs To: Chicago Blackhawks
Anders Nilsson (G) From: New York Islanders To: Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Matt Donovan (D) From: New York Islanders To: Bridgeport Sound Tigers

News & Notes:

  • Really nice work by 100DegreeHockey’s Stephen Meserve on the Texas Stars league leading powerplay. [100DegreeHockey]
  • The AHL Power Rankings for Week 17 have gone live on Chirps From Center Ice. Jason has been doing a great job with these, so go take a look. [ChirpsFromCenterIce]
  • After nearly a month on the road, the Rochester Americans are back on home ice. [WHEC]
  • The Milwaukee Admirals are hosting a, get this, Jamaican Vortex Night. Three fans will get a trip to Jamaica, and there will be a Bob Marley tribute band. You think you’d see this in the NHL? C’mon. [Milwaukee Admirals]
  • The brand new PPL Center is on its way to completion. (s/t @breakground, @Ike_Richman)
    Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 11.44.26 AM
    (Click to enlarge)

Canes bring back Jordan and Murphy, add Palushaj

The Carolina Hurricanes announced today they have come to terms on deals with defenceman Michal Jordan, goaltender Mike Murphy, and forward Aaron Palushaj.

Drafted in the fourth round of the 2008 draft, Jordan comes back to the ‘Canes for another season after spending the last three years with the organization. In his three seasons, the 22-year-old has played in 197 AHL games and five with the big club.

A native of Czech Republic, Jordan came to the Charlotte Checkers in 2010 and suited up for 67 games that season. In his rookie campaign, the young blueliner had four goals and 18 assists, and had improved on those totals each season. Back with the Checkers in the 2011-12 campaign, Jordan was able to muster another four goals and added 18 assists in 76 games. He didn’t appear in the NHL until last year when, after the lockout came to an end, he appeared in five games with the Hurricanes. Over 54 games in the ‘A’ last year, Jordan set a career high with six goals, and added an assist in the only playoff game he suited up for.

Murphy, 24, is four years removed from winning his second straight OHL Goaltender of the Year award. During his tenure in the with the Belleville Bulls — spanning from 2005-06 to 2008-09 — Murphy dominated. In back-to-back seasons, Murphy lead the league in SV%, GAA, and was named a first-team all-star in 2008-09.

In the AHL, Murphy has backstopped the Checkers for 47 games, including 39 contests in 2010-11 where the keeper posted a regular season GAA  of 2.53 and .919 SV%. In 14 playoff games, Murphy continued his stellar play with a 2.57 GAA and .919 SV%. Those totals, the best of his career, came two years before he left the team for a stint in the KHL with Spartak Moscow. Used sparingly in Moscow, Murphy left the KHL and came back to Charlotte, and has now re-signed with the organization for 2013-14.

Palushaj, who most will recognize from his days with the Hamilton Bulldogs and Montreal Canadiens, played 25 games in the NHL last season with Colorado. Claimed by the Avalanche in February of the 2012-13 season, Palushaj recorded two goals and seven assists with the team before his contract expired this off-season. Not tendered a qualifying offer, Palushaj hit free agency and, in turn, signed on with the Hurricanes.

At 23, Palushaj has been tremendous at the AHL level, putting up 54 goals and 82 assists for 136 points over 190 career games in the league.

All three contracts are one-year, two-way deals.