Grin and Bear it, Hershey Ventures in Free Agency
Hello everyone, my name is Richard Blosser, newest contributor to MSB and hockey enthusiast of the eleven time Calder Cup Champion Hershey Bears. You might know me from Perched on the Ice, the Hockey Podcast I do with Matt B, I will be providing commentary, recaps and other Hershey Bears stuff as we head into the 2019/2020 season and on that note, HAPPY HOCKEY YEAR!!
July is a the start of the new year for the North American Hockey Leagues, NHL AHL ECHL etc, its a time to look ahead to the new season and that means Free Agents. When we as fans fill our selves with hope and crown the Champions of the Off-season or dread about how bad our team looks on paper, even in the AHL this happens as teams sign depth players to NHL OR AHL contracts and today I will look at the Bears that have left us and oh boy, did we have some names leave.
Riley Barber to Montreal (MTL) – This comes as no surprise, if the caps wanted Riley to stay in the organization they would have done so weeks ago, but the signing of Richard Panik all, ended his time in the organization. Riley has had success in his 4 years with Hershey, but was limited due to injury(only played 39 games in 16/17) and needing a vet to maximize his potential Riley’s 2 best seasons came with the help of seasoned vets in Scott Gomez and Mike Sgarbossa to get him the puck in prime scoring situations. Montreal has been know to find diamonds in the AHL (Byron, Paul,) here is hoping Riley finds time in Bell Centre
Nathan Walker to St Louis: This one really hurts, the Aussie was a fan favorite in since he arrived on 2013/14, the 1st Aussie in the AHL, has developed into a speedy pest and a decent PK. While he only has one full season under his belt, the Caps were never fully sold on the RW since they had Burb Ovi, Vrana, Travis Boyd, DSP, Alex Chassion, there just wasn’t any room for Walker, unless due to injuries. With a fresh crop of rookies this season, it was time to move on, the fans will miss Walker, and the Caps may have missed out too.
Aaron Ness to Arizona (ARI): This was also expected, the signing of Raoko Guads and the emergence of Seignhalter and Djoos, left out the 29 year old as the odd man out. He had a career year in Hershey hitting the 50A mark, and was one of the more constant defenders on a defense a bit turnover prone. Aaron got some time in DC of his 4 years in Hershey but never a long amount (under 10 games.) With a new batch of D on the way, it was time to move and Ness went to the Desert with Phil Kessel. Ness SHOULD crack the roster in the Yotes and in a weak Pacific division, anything is possible.
Jayson Megna to Colorado (COL) The former WBS penguin had a solid 20G-20A season last year, well 20G-23A, Megna did most of his damage against WBS Penguins, and was hot and cold throughout the season, had the 3rd most PPG on the team with 8. It’s hard to say if Megna will get solid minutes with the Avs whom seemed to be primed for a deep Cup run next season, if he is sent down tot he Eagles, he will be a solid addition.
Wasn’t all bad news though:
Vitek Vanacek re-signed with Hershey to a 3 year deal, 19/20 is a 2-way deal, the next 2 (20/21, 21/22) are one way.
This is a very interesting contract but more on that in a bit, Vitek staying was a big signing for Hershey and the Caps, Vitek is the most popular Bear, his broken English interviews are fun to watch and always brings a smile to the fans that stick around (Not laughing at him, its just a quirk we love about him) He was the only Bear selected to the AHL ASG in Springfield last year and had 21 wins in a rotating goalie slot with Samsonov. I thought he would get a deal with Columbus or a west team that needs goalies, which it seems to be a Goalies market right now, thankfully he stayed in Chocolate Town.
His contract is a 1 way after this season, and with Brandon Holtby an expiring this season, and seeing the money being thrown to goalies so far, makes you think Holt Beast could be wearing a different sweater come next July. Now, add a expansion draft in 2 year AND Samsonov ELC coming to a end around the same time, it makes a muddled goalie crease down the line.
The Capitals also singed Philippe Maillet to a 2 year deal, the center played in Ontario reign last season, and has been classified as a late bloomer by some. He had his best season last year, with 16 goal and 38 assists out west, time will tell where he will fit in Hershey Roster.
For now the Bears have 11 Forwards and 8 defense, the defense is set but we still need more at the Forward as FA rolls on, a Vet on the Forward is a must and on the D wouldn’t hurt as well. As July continues we will see whom else signs with the Caps/Hershey and we will be one step closer to Opening Night, October 5th
That’s my opinion…