With Carolina’s AHL affiliate in Chicago missing the playoffs, the Hurricanes have decided who will be part of their ‘Black Aces’ squad, announcing the recall of six players. Coming up to the big club are forwards Ville Koivunen, Vasily Ponomarev, Jamieson Rees, and Ryan Suzuki, defenseman Maxime Lajoie, and goaltender Zach Sawchenko.
Koivunen spent the bulk of this season with Karpat in Finland’s SM-liiga, picking up 28 points in 52 games before reporting to the Wolves last month. The 19-year-old got into a dozen games at the AHL level, picking up a goal. This is his first recall to the NHL.
Ponomarev played his first full campaign in North America this season and acquitted himself well, picking up a team-leading 24 goals along with 22 assists to put him second on the Wolves in scoring behind Malte Stromwall (who was not among the recalls). The 21-year-old has also yet to play at the NHL level.
As for Rees, his third AHL campaign saw him put up more points than his first two combined, collecting 14 goals and 28 points in 65 games to put him fourth on the team in scoring. The 22-year-old is in the second season of his entry-level deal and hasn’t yet suited up for the Hurricanes.
Suzuki was a first-round pick by Carolina back in 2018 (29th overall) but also hasn’t seen NHL action yet. The 21-year-old did show some improvement this season with the Wolves, picking up 13 goals and 19 assists in 50 games, career-highs on all three fronts.
Lajoie, however, does have some NHL experience under his belt including three games with Carolina this season. The 25-year-old has suited in 70 career contests at the top level, the bulk of which came back in 2018-19 with Ottawa. Lajoie led all Wolves blueliners in points this season with 11 goals and 34 assists in 63 games.
Sawchenko played in seven games with San Jose last season but didn’t see any NHL time with the Hurricanes this season. The 25-year-old signed with Carolina as a free agent last summer and led all Chicago netminders with 41 appearances this season where he posted a 3.10 GAA with a SV% of .895.
Barring multiple injuries, it’s unlikely that any of these players will get into a game during Carolina’s playoff run but they will get a chance to continue skating and working with team coaches in case they need to be pressed into action.