Friday, June 18, 2010

Change is in the air

Well the season is over and free agency begins in less than 2 weeks so it is already time to start discussing next season.

Who is under contract and who isn't for 2010-11? Well let me tell you:

First lets look at players who are unrestricted free agents...meaning they can sign anywhere they want on July 1:
  • Alexandre Giroux
  • Bryan Helmer
  • Kyle Wilson
  • Andrew Joudrey
  • Boyd Kane
  • Greg Amadio
  • Jason Bacashihua
  • Simon Ferguson
  • Dylan Yeo
  • Michael Dubuc
Not too bad a list but some big names. The two biggest (offensively speaking) are Wilson and Giroux.

First lets talk about Giroux...

I know I was saying this last year and he came back but I don't see Giroux in Hershey next season. Why? Because the Caps aren't interested anymore. He got to play 9 games for the Caps this season and they weren't very impressed. If he wants to play in the NHL I think it will have to be with someone else. He has said that if it was all about money he would already be in Europe so maybe he stays to win again.

Now to Wilson...

One of my favorite players honestly. A very good offensive player and has been in Hershey for parts of 4 seasons now. Unfortunately for Kyle he is now considered a Vet. He has played in 291 regular season games in professional leagues. AHL teams are only allowed to dress 6 players on any given night that have played 260+. But Hershey only has 1 under contract right now, Keith Aucoin, that is a vet so that doesn't hurt too much at this point but considering other free agents they want to sign who knows. The bigger issue is does Washington want to keep him around? He would have to clear waivers to go up and down and he plays center...a position of depth within the organization. He got to play in his first 2 NHL games this season and had 2 assists. I wouldn't be surprised to see him go either way.

Names most likely to see return next season from that list:

Helmer, Joudrey, and Kane. None will be 2 way deals but I think all 3 would be happy to return to Hershey. Kane and Helmer are both veterans which would hurt other veterans like Wilson and Amadio. Joudrey is just a great defensive forward who will add a goal from time to time. Constant hustle and great penalty killing likely get him another go in Hershey if he wants it.

The team would surely like to have Bacashihua back but he is looking to be a number 1 goalie somewhere and that won't happen in Hershey unless there are injuries.

Now lets look at the restricted free agents. If these players are offered qualifying offers by the 28th of June they can still sign with another team but the Caps have the right to match any offer and would receive compensation for them if they sign elsewhere. If they do NOT receive qualifying offers by the 28th they become unrestricted free agents:
  • Chris Bourque
  • Patrick McNeill
  • Andrew Gordon
  • Jay Beagle
  • Zach Miscovic
I can all but guarantee that McNeill, Beagle, and Miscovic will be back. Neither Beagle or Miscovic would have to clear waivers so they can go up and down freely and McNeill showed a lot of growth this year and I don't think the Caps will let him get away.

The other two though are more interesting. I think Gordon gets an offer because he has a legitimate shot at making the Caps next season but he has to clear waivers to come to Hershey so don't be surprised if we don't see him in Hershey again.

Bourque is the most interesting case though. First of all he is a veteran, having played in 352 games so far in his career. Second he had an outstanding year in Hershey. The question the Caps think he can play for them? If so then you can watch him play for the Caps but it isn't likely you will see him Hershey because he probably won't clear waivers. The other possibility with Bourque is trade-bait. His value will probably never be higher than it is right now so the Caps might sign him to trade him at the draft.

So who is left for the Bears next season?

These players are under contract with Hershey/Washington for 10-11:
  • Braden Holtby
  • Michael Neuvirth
  • John Carlson
  • Sean Collins
  • Karl Alzner
  • Keith Aucoin
  • Steve Pinizzotto
  • Francois Bouchard
  • Mathieu Perreault
  • Stefan Della Rovere
  • Anton Gustafsson
  • Trevor Bruess
  • Josh Godfrey
  • Joe Finley
  • Dmitry Kugryshev
  • Cody Eakin
  • Dustin Stevenson
  • Jake Hauswirth
Who is most likely to make the Caps from that list...Carlson, Alzner and Neuvirth are probably locks assuming the Caps don't sign a goalie. But after that Perreault or Coiner could get a shot but not likely both of them if either. Everyone else (except Eakin) will see time in Hershey next season. Eakin is not yet 20 which makes him ineligible to play in the AHL until after his junior season ends.

I will have much more on this list next week.

And finally here are the players under contract with Hershey next season...they are not 2 way deals with the Caps:
  • Johann Kroll
  • Ashton Rome
  • Grant McNeill
  • Patrick Wellar
  • Nikita Kashirsky
Those players will likely spend time in Hershey next season. Kashirsky, for those of you that don't know (like me), is a forward that spent time in South Carolina last year and was loaned to Syracuse and Manitoba for parts of the season.

I will have much more about the players on Hershey's roster and potentially on Hershey's roster next week. It is a very intriguing offseason because the Caps actually have some spots open this season unlike last year.

In addition to that the Caps have alot of players becoming free agents after next season so that has to factor into their decision this year on players like Bourque, Gordon, Beagle, and Wilson. They might need a couple of them in 2011-12.


Scott B. said...

i'd really like to see Cash get a chance to be a #1 goalie somewhere. he had a great year for the bears and it would be a shame for him to not be playing every night. he's always been a great guy to chat with after home games. he was my wife's and my favorite player from the team last year. we both dig holtby as well and he's definitely in line to succeed neuvi after the year that they both had. we're both big fans of grant mcneill, so hopefully he'll be back with the team. how does grant lewis's contract with the thrashers effect his status with the team? it will be interesting to see how things play out in the upcoming weeks. i always enjoy the "hot stove" part of the seasons in sports.

GM said...

I also enjoy this part of the season but it sure can be stressful when you are a minor league fan and you just don't know what the team will look like.

Grant McNeill is under contract for 10-11 so he will be back.

Cash is reportedly on the list of goalies for Hershey to sign IF the Caps elect to go with the 2 kids next season. And I think he would be interested because Holtby and him could then split the starts. And Braden didn't show anyone he is ready for the playoff pressure so Cash could become the guy next April.

Grant Lewis is under contract with the Thrashers not the Capitals. Meaning he is no longer a Bear. He could be loaned again next season, signed by Hershey or traded for but as of this moment he is on the Atlanta Thrashers roster.

Ross said...

First off, congrats to you and your Bears, they did a great job against Texas. It's not how I hoped it would turn out, but that's life.

Also, you deserve props big-time for your "Fool me once" entry; granted I don't know exactly how accurate you were in your recommendations for the changes the Bears needed to make in order to turn things around after 2 losses, but at least one- but I believe more than that (I'm just not familiar enough with the Bears)-- of your suggestions was huge-- breaking up the top line and demoting Giroux.

That top line, minus him, excelled. Meanwhile however, Giroux himself didn't excel ... at all. I think he had 3-4 assists along with one goal (a big goal, I'll give him that, which I hate to admit, he scored just 20 feet from where I was sitting). In fact, coming into the series, nobody was generating as much buzz as Giroux because of his prodigious scoring the last couple seasons. I know he did well in the series leading up to the final, but he was a bust in the Calder Cup.

What it looked like to me was that he was really little more than a finisher who also happened to be playing on a line with an extremely gifted playmaker in Acoin. His time in the NHL has been a disappointment (4 career goals); he's now almost 30 years old, rendering his hopes of an NHL career all but moribund.

You don't seem particularly high on him, so I'm asking you this because I think I might get a more balanced and unbiased opinion, but what do you make of him as a player? Is there any sense that he stays in Hershey not just because he 'stays to win' but maybe also because he likes being the league's big star- and probably knows that he'll lose that status with any upward move? He was very underwhelming in the Calder Cup; I didn't see the vision, or the skills, in him that I saw in Bourque, in Acoin; he certainly didn't seem to possess a complete, well-rounded game. At most he was highly opportunistic.

You could also argue that Jamie Benn failed to live up to the hype in the Cup (and there's no denying that he did fail to) but the comparisons end there; they're not at all analogous beyond that basic fact.


GM said...

Ross...your Stars had a great season...good luck to you next year as well!

As for Giroux...your own comment sums up Alex...'didn't possess a complete, well rounded game'. That is precisely correct. He is a highly skilled goal scorer but he isn't a playmaker. Which is need goal scorers too. Patrick Sharp, Joe Thornton, Shane Doan, Jason Arnott, Rick Nash...not many of them would be mistaken for 'playmakers' but they are all premier goal scorers (or they were at one time).

Now what separates them from Giroux are many things...speed, size, skill. Bourque and Aucoin are playmakers as are Patrick Kane, Danny Briere, Mike Modano, Zetterburg. They can can score but their primary goal is to set up the other players.

Yes Giroux disappeared in the finals but that happens all the time with players in the postseason. Texas knew they wanted to stop him and they did. BUT they couldn't stop everyone.

Texas set themselves up to stop the top line of Giroux, Aucoin, Gordon. Which featured 2 goal scorers and a playmaker but no grinders. The Stars defense was also good enough to stop the other lines where there were limited goal scorers. When Hershey switched lines they evened them out and Texas couldn't quite stop it.

Hershey changed their lines going into the 2nd period of game 3 and Hershey didn't lose again.

Giroux will not get a legitimate NHL shot. He isn't fast enough to play on the top two lines. Proof of that was watching him try to beat defensemen one on one in the Finals. Every time he tried he failed.

He isn't a 2-way player so he has to be on the top two lines. He isn't fast enough to beat guys in the NHL. And he isn't willing to get in front of the net (like Brooks Laich, Tomas Holmstrom or John Leclair) to get the easy goals.

He can dominate the AHL if he stays in Hershey. Or he can chase his dream and give it one more shot with another team and hope that he gets lucky.

I think Giroux is a tremendous talent. A pure goal scorer who scores at will much of the time. But he is going to have a very hard time being successful in the NHL.

You mentioned Jamie Benn and how he disappeared as well...I think 2 assists the whole series. Honestly though it seemed as though Benn got hurt at some point. In the 1st period of game 1 he was doing anything he wanted with the puck, skating and puckhandling through guys and showing off his talent. Then he disappeared. Not sure if he got hurt or the Bears just clamped down but he was definitely more of a non factor than Giroux.

BUT Benn showed that he can beat the best AHL defenders one on one. Which is one reason he is an NHLer and Giroux is not.

Anonymous said...

Kashirsky was loaned out to Springfield, not Syracuse...: )

Ross said...

Thanks for the breakdown. A very thoughtful and knowledgeable response. I've been a lifelong hockey fan dating back to seeing the Stars play at the Met in the late 70s (lost to Esposito's Hawks and to Chico's Islanders), but not until this past year, when Dallas put their new affiliate in my backyard, did I ever pay a moment's attention to the AHL. It's been a learning curve, so I appreciate the insight- Giroux seems like an ideal example to help illustrate aspects of the AHL.

As for Benn's disappearing act, of course it was disappointing for us, but I think a few factors were at work:

#1 Alzner. He's an NHL caliber D and he showed it often, not just in shutting down Jamie but in various aspects of the series.
#2 Exhaustion. It's no excuse, but prior to this past season, when Jamie played a total of 106 professional games, he'd never played a single pro hockey game before, and he'd never played more than 50-60 games in a season in his life.

By the time the finals rolled around, who knows-- if the D hadn't been so effective, maybe he would have produced, because c'mon, he's 20 years old and the hockey's exciting. Exhaustion wasn't hurting Wathier or Scevior, and they'd played every regular season and playoff game.

Bottom line I don't think he's hurt, I think he ran into the best blue line in the league.

Finally, you wrote, "Hershey changed their lines going into the 2nd period of game 3 and Hershey didn't lose again."

between periods 1 and 2 of game 3 is so evidently the time when this series flipped. having been to all three home games, I can't tell you how high we all were after the first period up 3-1. I remember being so anxious and amped that I went up to the concourse with the luxury suites and just paced; the excitement was palpable. I'd never seen such tight security, as the suits were everywhere, and everyone was amped up. Then I came into a clearing where some sofas are set up, and they were occupied by 5-6 young guys in suits with full beards, obviously Hershey scratches, and they looked GRIM.

Everything dovetailed from there.

Thanks again, and congrats on #11.