Wednesday, May 18, 2011

B-Sens have commanding lead; Caps prospects having success

It is still really odd to have so long in between the end of the season and the time when offseason roster moves start happening. 

The last 2 years saw the season end in mid June with the NHL draft and free agency within a couple weeks of that.  So there was always conversation related to the Bears to keep hockey right at our finger tips.

But this year is different.  We still have 5 and a half weeks until the draft and yet another week after that until free agency begins. 

It is becoming a long offseason.  I don't like it.


The AHL playoffs are still going on and two East Division teams are still alive and well.  The Charlotte Checkers and Binghamton Senators remain in the hunt as they battle for the Eastern Conference crown.

Currently the Senators are up 3 games to none and it hasn't been close with the B-Sens outscoring the Checkers by a combined 17-5 in the three games to date.  Game 4 is scheduled for tonight so that series could end soon.

Before the playoffs started I said to watch out for Binghamton.  They were on a tear at the end of the season and then added a bunch of good players for the playoffs.  So I am not entirely surprised by their success. 

Over in the Western Conference the Houston Aeros are also up 3 games to none over the Hamilton Bulldogs.  This series has been much closer as neither team has scored more than 3 goals in a game.  Overall Houston has outscored the Bulldogs by a combined 8-5. 

I don't know much about the Western Conference since Hershey rarely plays these teams.  But I do remember reading something from either John Walton or Tim Leone after Peoria was eliminated by the Aeros.  Graham Mink, a former Bear, said at the time that this team had the makeup of a Calder Cup Champion and he expected to see them make a good run.

So far he has been right.  Game 4 of this series is also scheduled for tonight so by the end of the night the Calder Cup finals could be set and scheduled.

Changing topics back to Hershey for a minute...

Multiple Capitals prospects will be participating in the Memorial Cup which starts this week...Friday to be exact.  It would appear that you will be able to see at least some of the games, if not all, on NHL network beginning this Saturday with a replay of the opening game.

Cody Eakin, Stanislav Galiev, and Brett Fleming will represent their respective teams in the 4 team tournament to decide the champion of the CHL. 

Eakin and the Kootenay Ice won the WHL league title to earn this trip with Eakin showing up huge all postseason scoring 11 goals and adding 16 assists in only 19 playoff games.  He finished second in the WHL in playoff scoring.

Eakin signed his three year entry level contract with Washington and will report to training camp this fall.  He is expected to push for a spot on the Caps opening night roster but most expect him to start the season in Hershey.  Keep in mind though that he almost made the Caps out of camp this past year so it is not a foregone conclusion that he will report to Hershey...ever.

Galiev and the Saint John Sea Dogs won the QMJHL league title.  He has also performed very well for his team totaling 10 goals and 17 assists in 19 playoff games.  That was good enough for 5th in the QMJHL playoff scoring.

Galiev still has a year of junior eligibility remaining so he will not be in Hershey next season but look for him in 2012-13.
Defensemen Fleming represents the Mississagua St. Michael's Majors of the OHL, the hosting team for this years 2011 Memorial Cup.  Fleming helped his team offensively with a goal and 13 assists during the playoffs which was good enough for 6th amongst defensemen in the OHL.

Like Eakin, Fleming signed his entry deal already and is expected to compete for a spot in Hershey next season.  Defensemen generally need more seasoning so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him spend some time in South Carolina but he will surely be given a shot to earn a permanent spot in Hershey.

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