2007-08: Justin Shugg began his OHL rookie season with the Oshawa Generals. He scored 4 goals with 10 assists and was +6 in 38 games with the Generals before being traded to the Windsor Spitfires in a deal that sent goaltender Michal Neuvirth to the Generals. Shugg played in 23 games for the Spitfires, picking up 3 assists and was -2 with 2 PIM. He played limited minutes in three playoff games in the Spitfires five-game first round loss to Sarnia but did not register a point.
2008-09: In his first full season with the Spitfires, Shugg scored 17 goals with 16 assists for 33 points and was +21 with 48 PIM in 68 games. In the Spitfires run to the OHL title, he scored 5 goals with 4 assists with 16 PIM and an even plus/minus in 20 playoff games. Shugg appeared in two of the six Memorial Cup games as the Spitfires captured the championship of Canadian junior hockey.
2009-10: Though overshadowed by high profile teammates such as Taylor Hall (EDM), Adam Henrique (NJ) and some of the other big scorers on the Spitfires, Shugg was an integral part of the run to a second Memorial Cup championship in his third season with Windsor. Shugg played on a line with Scott Timmins (FLA) and Greg Nemisz (CAL) for most of the year and spent time on the second power play, scoring 11 goals on that unit. In 67 games for the Spits, he scored 39 goals with 40 assists and was +19 with 43 PIM. In 18 playoff games for the Spitfires, Shugg scored 5 goals and added 10 assists for 15 points, helping to lead the Spitfires to their second consecutive OHL Championship. In the four games of the Memorial Cup, he scored 2 goals with 5 assists.
2010-11: Shugg went from two-time Memorial Cup champ Windsor to Mississauga St. Michael’s in a pre-season OHL trade. After leading the Majors in scoring during the regular season, he narrowly missed winning a third consecutive Memorial Cup as Mississauga St. Michael’s was defeated by QMJHL champ Saint John, 3-1, in the championship game. In 66 regular season games, Shugg scored 41 goals with 46 assists (both team highs) and was +48 on a Majors’ club that had the OHL’s best record and scored 117 more goals than it allowed. Shugg scored 7 goals on the power play and had 4 short-handed goals. In 20 OHL playoff games, he scored 10 goals with 9 assists and was +15 with 14 PMs as Mississauga reached the league finals but were upset by Owen Sound in the finals. Playing in the Memorial Cup, which the Majors hosted, he scored 1 goal with 2 assists and was +2 with 6 PMs in five games.
2011-12: Shugg had an up-and-down year in his first pro season — shuffling between Carolina’s AHL affiliate Charlotte and the ECHL’s Florida Everblades and missing time mid-season due to a December injury. In 33 AHL games with the Checkers he scored 5 goals with 8 assists and was plus-five with 12 penalty minutes. Shugg finished the season on an up note; winning a Kelly Cup with the Everblades. He scored 4 goals with 8 assists in 11 ECHL regular season games and had 7 goals with 5 assists in 11 playoff games.
2012-13: Shugg was forced to start the season in the ECHL due to the NHL lockout, opening the year with the Florida Everblades before joining Carolina’s AHL affiliate in Charlotte in December. He got off to a slow start with the Checkers, scoring two goals in his first 11 AHL games but had points in eight of ten games in one stretch and had points in four straight games in February. In 39 games with Charlotte he scored 7 goals with 14 assists and was plus-5 with 10 penalty minutes. The Checkers finished second in the South Division and lost to third-place Oklahoma City in a first round playoff series. Shugg scored 2 goals and was -1 in four playoff games. He scored 11 goals with 11 assists in 19 games with the Everblades and was minus-2 with 20 penalty minutes.
2013-14: Shugg skated in 75 of 76 games for Carolina AHL affiliate Charlotte in his third pro season. He scored 16 goals with 22 assists and was minus-9 with 26 penalty minutes. The Checkers missed the playoffs; finishing fourth in the West Division. Shugg was re-signed by Carolina to a one-year two-way contract as a restricted free agent in July 2014.
2014-15: Shugg made his NHL debut with Carolina in a December game against the Canadiens and skated in three games with the Hurricanes before being returned to AHL affiliate Charlotte. He had no points with 2 penalty minutes and an even plus/minus, averaging 5:41 minutes of ice time for Carolina. Shugg was Charlotte’s leading scorer in his fourth pro season. He led the Checkers with 21 goals and had 22 assists and was -20 with 28 penalty minutes in 65 games. Charlotte missed the AHL playoffs, finishing fourth in the West Division. Shugg was re-signed by Carolina to a one-year contract as a restricted free agent in July 2015.
Shugg has always managed to put up points: he led the AHL’s Checkers last year with 43 and was a point-per-game player in junior. His play with Charlotte earned him a three-game recall with the Hurricanes last year, but he did not register a point. He is a suitable player in all three zones, but he really makes his mark on offense with his ability to finish.
Shugg is an adequate skater but small, so like former teammate and current Hurricanes winger Chris Terry he needs to be a finisher in order to make his way to the NHL. He is a candidate to repeat as Charlotte’s top scorer in 2015-16, but don’t rule out him eventually making it to the NHL for good — Shugg has climbed his way from the ECHL and has the determination to continue to improve.