Sunday, July 4, 2010
Bears being disassembled
Well the Hershey Bears won two Calder Cups with a lineup that most people would have agreed was deeper than any other teams. Consider that Jay Beagle was at times on the 4th line for the Bears and you can see how deep they were.
That is changing...drastically.
Honestly I thought this was going to happen last year but somehow the Bears managed to keep almost all the major players together. So far this week Hershey has lost Jason Bacashihua, Kyle Wilson, Alexandre Giroux, and Greg Amadio.
Obviously everyone sees that list and first notices Giroux's name as the biggest loss. When you score 139 goals in 181 games spread over 2 seasons you will be sorely missed.
But I think the player we will miss most on that list is Kyle Wilson. He wasn't the offensive stud that Giroux was obviously, with 'only' 122 goals over his 4 seasons in Hershey. But did you know that he played in almost every game Hershey played over the past 3 seasons? He missed 3 games this past season due to recall to Washington (where he played 2) over the last 3+ seasons.
He joined Hershey early in 06-07 and played in every game after that. Impressive considering the physical nature of the sport. Some guys (including the goalies now in Washington) struggle to get through 10 games at a time while Wilson played through everything.
He was a constant in Hershey. You knew he was going to be there and you knew he was going to play. Unfortunately he got caught in a numbers game with Washington. As a center he finds himself behind Aucoin, Perreault, Johansson, and maybe even guys like Eakin and Gustaffson on the Caps organizational depth chart.
How, I will never know but he has. Now he gets his chance in Columbus and I for one will be rooting hard to see him get his shot at a full time NHL job.
But back to why this hurts Hershey more than Giroux.
With the Caps not signing a 2nd line center (as of yet) it looks like Perreault could get his shot in the NHL next season. And with other players not resigned or getting picked up Washington could have a spot or two on its fourth line or for players to step in...which could mean Beagle would get an NHL spot too.
That would leave the Bears thin at center with Keith Aucoin and ........ who knows. Trevor Bruess is a center, but he couldn't crack the lineup in the playoffs. Jake Hauswirth is listed as a center but is he ready after one season in the ECHL? Anton Gustaffson will likely get a shot but again he couldn't crack the lineup.
Who is left? Obviously Hershey will be adding some players through free agency but can they compare to what they are going to be losing.
Oh and for those of you waiting for me to list Cody Eakin...he can't play in Hershey next year until his junior season ends. He is only 19 and in order to be eligible for the AHL he must be 20. So...not until 2011-12!
Now don't get me wrong...left wing is an issue too. With Giroux gone and Bourque not likely returning Hershey is very weak on the left side. But they could resign Michael Dubuc and give him a shot on the left side. He is a top talent goal scorer but his defensive end play is weak. But if he plays on the top line with Gordon and Aucoin he could score 30 goals and not have to play too much in his own end.
Any way you look at it Hershey's roster is going to be drastically different this season. So far 4 players have signed elsewhere and there are plenty of free agents left.
Do you all remember the 07-08 season? We all mentioned how 'young' it was all year with players like Wilson, Gordon and Joudrey playing lots of minutes.
The 10-11 Bears will look very similar to them. Guys like Hauswirth, Bruess and Gustaffson will get every chance to play. Add to that Dmitri Kugryshev and Stefan Della Rovere. And pay close attention to the developmental camp being held from July 12-17 in Washington. It would not be surprising to see a few of those players get signed to deals and play some in Hershey this season.
It is going to be a 'rebuilding' year in Hershey. They aren't going to be as deep as last year but you know what might make all the difference...
While the 07-08 veteran/star was Joe Motzko the 10-11 player that will fill that role...Keith Aucoin.
Not a bad presence to have on the top line.
***And good luck to Alexandre Giroux as well. He has played so well in Hershey leading the Bears to two straight Calder Cups it sucks to see him leave.
G, we are all pulling for you to make the Edmonton Oilers roster and get the chance to show the NHL what you can do!***