With the Carolina Hurricanes lacking an AHL affiliate due to the Chicago Wolves’ desire to go independent, they have hit their first roadblock regarding their prospects.
After entering training camp in Raleigh and being assigned to the Norfolk Admirals of the ECHL, 2020 draft pick Noel Gunler reportedly refused to report.
Instead, Gunler will now spend the 2023-2024 campaign in Finland, playing for Kärpät of Liiga.
The team put out a press release welcoming Gunler and announcing his arrival, stating that they are getting a “skating-strong, young, and hungry right winger” in Gunler.
The 22-year old spent the 2022-2023 campaign with the Chicago Wolves, totaling eight points and 10 assists over 31 games.
After spending parts of two seasons in Chicago at the AHL level, it is not a complete shock that Gunler wanted to play in a league more competitive than the ECHL. With Carolina not planning on having him on their roster this season, his now certain unavailability should not have much of an impact at the NHL level.
Tony Androckitis, who covers the AHL, originally reported that ‘several’ Carolina prospects declined to report, but aside from Gunler, it appears that just defenseman Anttoni Honka, a 2019 third round pick, joined Gunler in refusing assignment to Norfolk.
Without an AHL affiliate and the Hurricanes having to loan players to other team’s affiliates, this could be the first of many small issues that arise this season.