Veteran defenseman Aaron Ness was assigned to the Bears by the Washington Capitals. That assignment was a Christmas gift for Hershey. The return of Ness is a huge boost for the Hershey blueline and his presence impacts the Bears in several ways. The Bears have been using a variety of rookies on the blue line. This will help sure up the defense, however this will cause a veteran issue once captain Garrett Mitchell returns
Aaron Ness is a proven defenseman in the American Hockey League. He plays in every situation which allows the other defensemen on the team to slot into more comfortable spots in the lineup. If Johansen wants to roam around at the goal line then Ness will stay at the blue line. If Ness takes off down low the expectation would be the other defenseman would stay at the blue line. Ness also will play the power play and the penalty kill. He will likely be paired with right-handed blueliner Tyler Lewington. Both have played a lot together in the past and give Hershey a solid top-pairing. This pairing will be rugged and tough to get by, and will stick up for their teamates. This also will allow Hubert Labrie to play on the second defensive pairing, a spot he is better suited for. The team has needed another veteran on the backend and Ness gives them that to feed of of Labrie and Lewington.
There has been very little said about Nathan Walker recently. He has been scratched a lot and played only seven games this season. His last game was against the Avalanche on November sixteenth. Walker has averaged just over nine minutes of ice time in that time. He has just one goal, fluky at that, in the seven games he has played.
Walker is trying to prove he deserves to stick with the Capitals with his hard-hitting, fiery style. Walker owned a shot-attempt percentage of 63.7 percent, which is the best on the team. He is not lacking in grit and determination either.
Walker has suited up for seven games this season but had been pushed out of the lineup recently and didn’t have a clear path back. The 23-year old could be a potential claim for a team wanting to add some speed and tenacity to their bottom-six, but he does still lack the size many teams covet for their fourth line.
If Walker clears waivers friday at noon, he will become a member of the Hershey Bears. Hershey could get two big Christmas gifts before taking on the Lehigh-Valley Phatoms on Friday in Allentown, PA.