I had season tickets to the Whalers last year. He had a great year. I liked a lot of guys on that team for different reasons, but Levi was my favorite defenseman. I'll be sorry to see him go. Nobody shuts it down like him- his mobility on the penalty kill is so much fun to watch. He just takes everything away and works really well with whoever he's paired with. I don't know if they stream Charlotte games on the web, but I will be looking for them. A lot of pros work out at a nearby gym here. He's up to 6'4", 210 lbs.
If this were a regular year, I think he'd get to see some exhibition games with the Canes, spend most of the season with Charlotte, and maybe get called up for a game or two during the season. With the lockout, it depends on who else shows up at the Checkers camp. If locked out veterans decide to play in the AHL, that wouldn't be good for a guy like Levi. I think he needs that experience in order to make the permanent transition to NHL more quickly and to make it stick. He's a totally differnt player from Faulk and Murphy, although I think for the style of game he plays (defensive D/shut down/PK) he is ready for the NHL this year with just a couple of months of AHL play to get used to the tempo. The ECHL is a good option too, but I am betting there's going to be quite a dog fight at camp for the spots in Charlotte. I think chances are better that we will see him in Charlotte than in Florida.
I have been watching Levi for a long time and what he did for Plymouth last year was amazing. Levi and Schmitz were two guys that really elevated themselves. I think Levi has the chance to be an impact player as there aren't too many defenders with his combination of size, mobility, and willingness to play physical. He's not ever going to be an offensive defender, but he did show adequate ability on the PP when put there later in the season when injuries hit.
IMO he's still very raw offensively, and that may never come around. But IMO he's also one of the biggest reasons that Dumoulin was expendable. Dumo was the best shutdown dman in college hockey the past couple years. But Levi was right there among the best, if not the best, shutdown dmen in the OHL over that same time frame. I won't be all that surprised if it doesn't take him long at all to transition up to the NHL level given his skating, physical play, and defensive awareness.
And he can bust some heads too, which is always nice to have.
Good MIHockey article with interview. Levi seems to have adjusted to the disappointment of missing out on Charlotte this year. His outlook is positive and healthy considering you know he wants to be at the next level.