Friday, July 15, 2011

Defending the Schedule Matrix and an Early Look at a Potential Lineup

Yesterday I complained a little bit about the schedule and its lack of balance.  I thought maybe I overreacted a bit considering there hasn't been balanced schedules the last few years either but then I went to the PennLive forum and I see I am not the only one upset about the balance.

But today I am actually going to DEFEND the AHL on the schedule debate.  Understand this though...I want a balanced schedule.  I want the AHL to adopt the NHL schedule matrix so that everyone pretty much plays everyone else the same amount of times.  It works.

Now, let me say this.  I understand (and actually kind of agree) with what the AHL did and why they did what they did.

Generally people think it has to do mainly with travel costs.  I am sure that is part of the issue but I don't believe that is the MAIN issue.

The biggest reason the AHL does the schedule this way is ticket sales. 

I actually thought about this yesterday, but decided against discussing it in that post.  Most of the fans in the AHL are casual fans.  Sure, in Hershey there are 10,000 casual fans, but most cities have half of that at the most.

Even in Hershey the majority of the fans aren't concerned too much with roster moves, prospects, and if the schedule is balanced. 

Yes there are fans (you are reading an opinion of one right now) that take the AHL very seriously and love to follow the league and are 100% committed, both emotionally and financially, to my favorite team.

But compared to the NHL the AHL has no fans.  It would be like comparing the popularity of football to the NHL.  Landslide victory for one side.

Now, I am not saying that the AHL doesn't care about their fans.  In fact they care about them more than any other league because they depend on them for revenues more than most other leagues.

There are no TV contracts in the AHL, minimal radio coverage for even the best teams, and advertising dollars come in but on a scale much smaller than larger sports leagues. 

So guess where the dollars come from...the fans.

So...myself and many of the more intense fans would LOVE to see the Bears play the Rampage, Icehogs, Barons, and Heat every season.  It would be great to see the talent on those teams at a time other than the Calder Cup finals. 

But for the casual fan...that isn't the case.  They would prefer to see rivalry games.  In Hershey that isn't necessarily the case.  Most Saturday games were sell outs and most games other nights were over 9000 fans no matter who the opponent was. 

However, not all fans are as loyal or supportive as Bears fans.  For example...Syracuse hosted Albany and about sold 1,700 fewer tickets than when they hosted Rochester. 

Another example...Wilkes Barre/Scranton...they hosted Manitoba, sold about 6200, they hosted Abbotsford, sold about 5900, and they hosted Hershey, sold 8100.  All those were Friday night games throughout the season. 

Another...Albany...they finished the season LAST in the AHL in attendance.  One Saturday they played Adirondack and drew 5,200 fans (2,000 more than their season average)...the next Saturday they played Norfolk and drew 2,200.  That is 3,000 fans less...and that makes a huge difference on revenues.

Obviously it isn't a perfect comparison since other things impact attendance figures but it gives you an idea of what fans prefer.

And Hershey is NOT immune to this problem.  Looking at Sunday games throughout the season you will see that one team outdraws the rest:

Adirondack - 7,000
Binghamton - 7,500
Charlotte - 7,400
Manitoba - 8,000
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton - 10,700

Casual fans show up when the opposition is a known rival.  Simple as that.

And the AHL is built and survives based on the interests of the CASUAL FAN.  Without them there would be many fewer teams which would affect the overall hockey landscape as a whole.

So, in the end I would love to see more competitive balance (and honestly without tearing apart every single teams matchups I can't honestly say there isn't SOME balance worked in) I also understand that in order to maintain a successful league and successful teams you have to get people in the seats. 

And the best way to do that is to schedule the rivalry teams more than any other.

Ok, so there, I gave the AHL their due for creating the schedule.  It is tough to balance a schedule with every team playing other teams evenly when those teams can't make money in many games. 

In my opinion, it is better to have 30 AHL teams and an unbalanced schedule than it is to have 20 AHL teams and a balanced schedule.

And like I said yesterday...this could help Hershey in the end.  By the time the playoffs roll around they have already played a tougher than average schedule.  So, assuming they make the playoffs, they are more likely to perform well in those "bigger" games.

And as you will see below...this is going to be quite a team in Hershey this season. 

With that, let's just take a glance at the prospective Hershey Bears roster as of today.  For the purposes of this exercise I am going to assume that Jay Beagle does not make the Caps while both Cody Eakin and Mattias Sjogren do.  That could absolutely change.  Personally I think there is 1 or maybe 2 spots available for those 3 players.  And yes I guess I should include Mathieu Perreault in that discussion but I don't see it happening for him.

So, when looking at the below lines remember that Beagle's spot could be filled by Eakin or Sjogren too.

Any way you look at it this is what many people would describe as...stacked.  Loaded.  Explosive. 

Maybe the key term to describe this roster is another word that we floated around often in 2009-10....deep.  You could LEGITIMATELY have 6 forwards pushing the 30 goal mark this upcoming season.  Seriously.  6 different forwards.  And there could be more if there was more ice time to share. 

Just take a look....


And that doesn't even include Dmitry Kugryshev, Daved de Kostrozza, or Francois Bouchard.  Sure...injuries and callups will force players to move around but consider that Kane scored 24 goals last year and he is on the 4th line.  Christian Hanson scored 13 and he isn't even in the lineup based on these projections!

Impressive depth.


Defensive pairings are difficult to predict but look at the depth here.  Brett Fleming is really looking good at development camp and could push guys for time.  Patrick Wellar...who some considered one of Hershey's most consistent defensemen last season is likely the #6 guy here. 

Is this unit better than last years?  I would say it is definitely not any worse. 

The goaltending is easy...Holtby, Sabourin, Cheese.  Done.

So what are the overall thoughts?  I see one potential problem with the roster and it may or may not actually be a "problem".  There isn't that a "go-to" goal scorer on the team as in years past.  Giroux and Gordon filled that role in years past.  But I don't see a pure goal scorer that can be relied on game out. 

BUT...having 6 guys who could push the 25-30 goal mark is pretty impressive and will be tough to stop each night.  Especially when the next 6 could be pushing the 15-20 goal mark!

Does depth out-perform star power? 

In the playoffs it does.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

More signings and a few links to share

Two posts in one July?  What is going on? 

Well fortunately for Bears fans...a lot.

Let's start with the signings...

Jacob Micflikier, formerly of the Charlotte Checkers, will likely be a Hershey Bear in 2011-12.  He signed a one year, two-way contract with the Capitals today and is likely to end up in Hershey for the upcoming season.

Last year he scored 29 goals and added 32 assists in 78 games for the Checkers.  The season prior he tallied 18 goals and 22 assists in 59 games. 

Excellent pickup by the Caps/Bears.  The lineup in Hershey is starting to look pretty explosive!!

The other signing...Daren Machesney is returning to the organization.  Cheese was signed to a one year AHL deal for 2011-12.  He will likely become the #1 goalie in South Carolina while getting some time in Hershey when callups or injuries occur (which they have at an alarming rate the past couple of seasons). 

Last season Cheese got to see many different places as he played for Springfield and Worcester in the AHL and Victoria, Elmira, and Reading in the ECHL.

Love both the signings.  You need depth at goaltender and adding a veteran guy like Cheese is definitely a good plan.  And getting Micflikier to join the cast that Hershey already has...outstanding. 

It's going to be a good year!!!

Here are a few links for some write-ups on what will likely be some future Bears (probably even this year):

Defenseman Brett Fleming

Forward Garrett Mitchell

Forward Danick Paquette

Schedule details are beginning to emerge

Well the Bears (and the AHL) announced what teams they will be playing for the upcoming 2011-12 season.  (Dates will be announced later this summer...probably end of August based on last couple of years)

And the schedule is in no way balanced. 

Hershey will play the following teams (home/away split provided):

East Division games:
Binghamton Senators (4/4)
Norfolk Admirals (5/5)
Syracuse Crunch (3/3)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (6/6)

Eastern Conference games:

Adirondack Phantoms (2/2)
Albany Devils (2/2)
Bridgeport Sound Tigers (2/2)
Connecticut Whale (2/2)
Manchester Monarchs (2/2)
Portland Pirates (1/1)
Providence Bruins (1/1)
St. John's (2/2)
Springfield Falcons (1/1)
Worcester Sharks (1/1)

Western Conference games:

Charlotte Checkers (2/2)
Lake Erie Monsters (1/1)
Rochester Americans (1/1)

I know travel costs have to be taken into account for these schedules but how can you shift to a Conference playoff format and still have almost half of a teams games against just 4 teams?

Hershey will play East Division teams 36 times.  Sure those are important as divisional races will heat up for the division crown, but unlike in years past the remaining playoff spots are determined at the CONFERENCE level and not the divisional level.

Honestly, look at the teams Hershey has to play the most...Wilkes-Barre, the #1 seed from last year...Binghamton, the Calder Cup Champs...and Norfolk, a team that came on extremely strong at the end of last season and gave the Pens a scare in the 1st round.

The schedule does seem somewhat balanced in that the "weaker" divisions don't seem to play as many games within their own divisions.  Adirondack will only play 24 games within their division (which is considered the weakest in the AHL as the bottom 4 teams from the Conference and Connecticut, the 8th seed in the playoffs, make up the Northeast division).  Unfortunately the AHL screws up again as the Phantoms won't play the new St. John's team at all and only has to play the Bears/Pens a combined 6 times. 

In a divisional format (regular season) where teams are competing for division crowns within their own division, divisional games are more important.  In the AHL's defense the divisional games are slightly less important than the past few years which saw divisional playoffs as well.  This season the AHL moves to an NHL like Conference playoffs setup which does eliminate the need for balanced schedules to a point.

But these are just absurd.

The schedule creates an unfair advantage for certain teams.  In the NHL these types of divisions do not usually create a problem because the schedule is ultimately balanced with every team playing the other ones the same number of games.  In the NHL games are divided like this:

In Division - 6 games against each opponent (24 games)
In Conference (out of division) - 4 games against each opponent (40 games)
Out of Conference - 18 games against opponents

The only place where that isn't balanced is in the Out of Conference schedule where there could be some discrepancy on balance depending on what teams play who and where.

BUT in the division and in the conference everything is equal.  The Flyers will play the Pens 6 will the Rangers, Islanders, and Devils.  The Flyers will play the Caps 4 will the rest of the Atlantic and Northeast divisions.

And yet in the AHL the Bears will play the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 12 times in 2011-12 while the Syracuse Crunch will only play them 8 times.

The Penguins will play the Portland Pirates (Atlantic Division champs last season) 4 times while Hershey will only play them 2 times.

Norfolk plays the Pens and Bears 10 times each but only gets Syracuse 4 times.  AND they will only play 4 games against the Western Conference...all against Charlotte.  (Some Eastern Conference teams won't play a Western Conference opponent at all!)

Syracuse will only play 26 games within the division this season.  10 games LESS than the Bears will.  And they play the Rochester Americans (in the Western Conference) 10 times.  That is more than they will play any single team in their own division.

How is it that one team in the East Division gets 10 fewer division games then another??  Shouldn't they be playing the same teams as everyone else they are competing with in the division?

In addition to that...I thought the new alignment would create the opportunity to see new teams in Hershey during the regular season or at least more of certain teams then we have in the past.  And yet we are actually going to see one fewer team this season than last.  In 2010-11 the Bears were visited by 18 different 2011-12 that number drops to 17.

I guess in the end it doesn't really matter.  Balanced schedules haven't been part of the AHL before and it hasn't seemed to effect Hershey that much.  In the end maybe the tougher schedule gets them more prepared for the playoffs.

Who knows.  Maybe I am just still upset about the whole realignment/playoff changes that they instituted (I am by the way) but I still think a balanced schedule could work.

In the end ticket sales and limiting travel costs win out in the AHL.  And in the end I will still pay for season tickets and write this blog.

I just want hockey to start so we can stop talking about this relatively unimportant stuff and start talking about wins and losses!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lots of roster moves going on

Patrick Wellar...welcome back!

Christian Hanson...welcome!

Julien Brouillette...welcome!

Mathieu Perreault...welcome back (maybe)!


Graham Mink...welcome back!!

See...lots of roster moves happening over the last couple of days.

Let's start with the 2 biggest names on the list...

Graham Mink signed a one year, AHL only deal earlier today that will bring him back to the Chocolate and White for 2011-12.  Last season Minker played for Peoria where he recorded 24 goals and 26 assists in 70 games.  This will be Minker's 3rd go around in a Bears jersey.  And the other two seasons weren't too bad for the Bears...they won the Calder Cup both times!!  (05-06 and 08-09 for those of you who don't remember).

This signing surprises me a great deal due to the already loaded veteran roster Hershey has.  With Mink in the fold there are now 7 veterans on the roster and only 6 can skate per night.  That means, barring injuries or callups, one of Mink, Bourque, Aucoin, Kane, Richmond, and Potulny will be sitting each night.  (Greentree is in the 260-320 game threshold so he will join the other 5 vets each night without problem). 

Maybe the Bears/Caps expect Bourque to make the big club out of camp...I don't know.  Either way it could create some animosity/locker room issues if one of these guys is sitting every night.  Many times this kind of scenario works itself out with injuries and recalls but there is potential for a problem now.

Still love having Minker back though!!!

Next up, Mathieu Pearreault signed a one year, two way contract earlier today as well.  Last season he split his time between Hershey and Washington scoring a combined 18 goals and adding 31 assists in 69 combined games.  That included 11 goals and 24 assists in Hershey in only 34 games. 

While Perry is obviously hoping to make the Capitals out of camp most expectations are that he will come to Hershey for the majority of the season.  But he will definitely be one of the last cut and one of the first call ups IF he ends up in Hershey.  I don't think there are too many people that doubt his ability but his consistency at the NHL level has been lacking in his recent call-ups.  The Caps would love to see him come to camp and show he can be consistent but even then, with all the new talent and organizational depth at center, I think it will be difficult for him to make the big club out of camp.

Patrick Wellar was resigned by the Bears for the upcoming season and is a welcome addition to a lineup that could use a little muscle and intimidation.  He has developed into a very reliable AHL defenseman over the past couple of years. 

Now to the newcomers...

Julien Brouillette (I already hate typing the name) signed a one year, AHL contract for 2011-12 with Hershey.  He comes over from the Lake Erie Monsters, to join his former teammate Matthew Ford, after a successful 2010-11 campaign in which the defenseman recorded 2 goals and 15 assists in 49 games while compiling a +/- rating of +17.  He also played 1 game with Charlotte and 25 in the ECHL where he collected 11 goals and 12 assists.  He brings some offensive upside to the position.  I suspect he will fill a role like Johann Kroll or Dylan Yeo from last season...a split between Hershey and South Carolina depending on injuries and recalls.

Christian Hanson, son of Slap Shot actor Dave Hanson, signed a one year, two way contract with the Capitals/Bears and is expected to compete in Caps camp before finding a role in Hershey for the season.  He spent most of last season in Toronto with the Marlies, recording 13 goals and 21 assists in 58 games.  He also saw 6 games with the Maple Leafs last season.  He is a big kid, standing 6'4" and weighing 228 lbs so hopefully he likes to park himself in front of the net and get the "cheap" goals.

So there you have it...5 roster additions (potentially depending on Perry) with more to surely come.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Development Camp kicks off today

Beginning today the Washington Capitals are hosting future pros for a week in their annual development camp in DC.

The players at this camp are current, future, or potential Hershey Bears mostly.  Many of the players could make the Capitals roster in the future but probably just a small percentage.

Below are the player groups for the following week.  Players with an * are free agent invitees.  Players highlighted in yellow are likely headed for Hershey for at least part of the 2011-12 season.

Group A

50 Cody Eakin
64 Pat Mullane*
73 Luke Lockhart*
76 Garrett Mitchell
77 Michael Collins*
79 David Civitarese*
86 Andrew Cherniwchan*
87 Samuel Henley*
92 Chase Grant*
93 Dmitry Kugryshev
95 Thomas Frazee*
96 Taylor Stefishen


38 Garrett Haar
44 Patrick Koudys
51 Luke Eibler*
56 Patrick Wey
65 Samuel Carrier
66 Dustin Stevenson
67 Wade Epp*
94 Jimmy Oligny*


31 Philipp Grubauer
40 Steffen Soberg

Group B

33 Mattias Sjogren
39 Brock Montpetit*
42 Danick Paquette
49 Stanislav Galiev
53 Travis Boyd
54 Greg Burke
61 Mitch Elliot*
63 Garrett Ross*
71 Cameron Burt*
82 Aaron Schmit*
84 T.J. Syner*
88 Reid Edmondson*
91 Adam Mitchell*


29 Brett Flemming
47 Scott Wietecha*
58 Conor Allen*
59 Mike Boivin*
75 Kyle Follmer*
81 Dmitri Orlov
97 Karl Stollery*
98 Nick Tabisz*

78 Brandon Anderson
80 Jacob Gervais-Chouinard*

After this week there will be minimal hockey discussion for the next 2 months so definitely enjoy it.

Washington/Hershey continue to sign players destined for Hershey and I will have updates as they happen (I have heard about 3 signings in the last day or two which I will update sometime midweek).

Sunday, July 10, 2011

AHL Realignment and other news

The realignment of the AHL for the 2011-12 season is complete.  Instead of the 4 divisions we have become used to the AHL will be mirroring the NHL and their 6 division format.

The biggest change is that Charlotte has been relocated to the Western Conference.  And of course two new divisions were created (Northeast and Midwest).  Below are the new divisions.

Atlantic Division North Division
mch09_500.jpg gr09_500.jpg
por09_500.jpg ham09_500.jpg
pro09_500.jpg le09_500.jpg
stj11_500 rch09_500.jpg
wor09_500.jpg tor09_500.jpg
Northeast Division Midwest Division
adk09_500.jpg cha
alb10_500.jpg chi09_500.jpg
bri09_500.jpg mil09_500.jpg
ct10_500.jpg peo09_500.jpg
spr10_500.jpg rfd09_500.jpg
East Division West Division
bng09_500.jpg abb09_500.jpg
her09_500.jpg hou09_500.jpg
nor09_500.jpg okc10_500.jpg
syr09_500.jpg sa09_500.jpg
wbs09_500.jpg tex09_500.jpg 

The division winners will get the top 3 seeds and the next 5 best teams will get into the playoffs.  Gone are the days of trying to figure out if the 5th team from one division gets in over the 4th of another.  That part I like.

The playoffs will be reseeded (just like the NHL) after the first round so that the highest remaining seed plays the lowest remaining seed.  Again, I like this.

But overall I am not a fan of the new format.  I liked the fact that the division opponents had to play each other in the playoffs every single year.  Not playing each other is going to take away from the divisional rivalries that were created and fostered by the divisional playoffs of years past. 

Sure the Bears and Penguins will still have a good rivalry but it will be diminished if they do not regularly face off in the playoffs.  In years past you knew during the regular season that games against Wilkes-Barre were likely playoff they are just regular season games within the division.

The real deciding factor though will be in how they create the schedule.  In years past the divisional opponents would play each other multiple times a season, sometimes as many as 12.  And that worked because the playoffs were done divisionally. 

Now that the playoffs are seeded by conference the schedule needs to be more balanced.  I honestly don't think Hershey will play Wilkes-Barre 10 times this season.  And if they do it is a huge mistake by the AHL. 

Divisional opponents should play each other 6 times each.  They should play the remaining conference opponents (10 teams) 4 times each.  And each division should play each team from 1 division of the opposing Conference 2 times each.  That is 74 games...4 more would need to be scheduled...fairly.

The AHL has not announced how the schedule will be created.  And we might not know until late August when the schedule is typically announced.  But if they don't create a balanced schedule where each team plays similar teams than it can't work.

Either way I am going to miss the divisional playoff format.  Sure, rivalries will still be fierce in the East Division and regular season matchups will still be entertaining. 

But a second round matchup against the Connecticut Whale just doesn't have the same emotion as an East Division final against the Baby Pens.

Player Movement News:

The Washington Capitals traded Eric Fehr to Winnipeg for a 4th round pick and Dannick Paquette.  Paquette will likely start the season in Hershey and he brings a needed element to the team....agitator. describes him as
a perfect example of a player that teams love to have on their own side, but hate to play against.  Perhaps the only thing more agitating than his gritty style of play is the fact he also has the ability to bury the puck and make the opposition pay for their mistakes and indiscretions.

With the loss of Steve Pinizzotto this is exactly what the Bears needed.  He likely won't be as offensively productive as Pinner was but apparently he has that ability.  Last season in the ECHL he scored 13 goals and added 7 assists to go along with his 179 penalty minutes in 59 games.

Hershey still needs to add an enforcer but generally they can wait to do that until later in the summer as players of that nature don't get signed too early.  Paquette is 6'1" 210lbs so he is not going to fill the role that Joel Rechlicz filled last season but he can surely scrap when necessary.

And Dannick is only just turning 21 so he is 6 years younger than Pinner.  Which definitely makes him more valuable to the organization.  He is signed for 2 more years so expect to see him in Hershey for the foreseeable future.

In other news...Brian Willsie has signed with Montreal/Hamilton for the upcoming season.  With all the veteran spots already taken up in Hershey you knew he wasn't going to be back.  He had a great season for Hershey last year and it is tough to see him go.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Welcome Danny Richmond...Former Bears sign elsewhere

First of all, another defenseman was added to the fold.  Danny Richmond has been signed by Washington/Hershey to a one year contract.  Richmond spent last season with the Toronto Marlies where he scored 3 goals and added 20 assists in 68 games.  He also picked up 121 penalty minutes and finished the season a -12.

Richmond is a veteran which gives Hershey 6 veterans.  All 6 can start however as Kyle Greentree falls into the 260-320 games played category while the remaining five (Richmond, Aucoin, Kane, Potulny, Bourque) have all played 320+.

Several 2010-11 Bears have signed deals to play elsewhere this past weekend and here is a brief recap:

Andrew Joudrey signed with Columbus/Springfield.
Andrew Gordon signed with Anaheim/Syracuse. 
Steve Pinizzotto signed with Vancouver/Chicago.

Hopefully all of those guys get a legitimate shot at making the NHL.  Gordon's contract is a 2-year deal with the 2nd year being an NHL one way deal so that is great news for him. 

Alexandre Giroux has also signed with Columbus/Springfield so we could be seeing more of him this upcoming season instead of just the All-Star game. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

More signings...Collins and...Bourque

Yes you read the title right...Chris Bourque has signed a one year deal with the Capitals.  No word on if it is a two way deal or not but I am guessing it is.

Chris spent last season split between the KHL and the Swiss league, scoring 15 goals and 19 assists in 47 games.

The addition of Bourque gives the Bears 5 veteran forwards.  So anyone hoping to see Giroux, Mink or Gordon return to the Bears is probably going to be disappointed.  I won't say it can't happen but it isn't likely now.

In other news...everyone's favorite defenseman is back too.  Sean Collins signed a one year deal with the organization as well.  This time though it is a two way contract and won't cost the Caps too much if they send him down to Hershey.  (The last 2 years were on NHL one way contracts for those that didn't know).

And a follow up to yesterday...the Ryan Potulny deal is, according to, a 2 year contract with the 2nd year an NHL one way deal. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bears sign 3...Caps making curiuos decisions

The first day of free agency has been active for the Bears and Capitals.  Let's start this off with news out of Hershey...

Ryan Potulny, Matthew Ford, and Paul Baier have all been signed for the 2011-12 season. 

Potulny, former Bear Grant's little brother, played for 4 different teams last season...the Binghamton Senators, Rockford IceHogs, Chicago Blackhawks, and Ottawa Senators.  He lasted the longest with Rockford, scoring 18 goals and 23 assists in 58 games.  He was traded to Ottawa late and proceeded to lead the Binghamton Senators in scoring during their Calder Cup run with 14 goals and 12 assists in 23 games.

Matthew Ford played the last 2 seasons with the Lake Erie Monsters.  Last season he had his best as a pro, scoring 26 goals and 16 assists in 76 games.

Paul Baier is a big defenseman, 6'4" 225lbs, who is surely being brought in for some muscle.  With Patrick Wellar no longer under contract the Bears were likely looking for someone to fill a similar role.  He spent last season with Rochester, scoring 2 goals and adding 8 assists in 62 games.

None of the moves strike me as difference making type moves but who really knows until these guys get out there with the likes of Aucoin and Perreault. 

One thing to mention is that Potulny is a veteran.  That gives Hershey 4 veteran forwards already with more spots left to fill. 

Based on my rosters, which are in no way official, the Bears have a possible 13 forward spots locked up (not including Perry and Bouch).  But that does include Eakin, Beagle, and Gustafsson so there is likely more activity to come from Hershey this season.

Up in Washington they are making moves too.  Including trading Semyon Varlamov to Colorado for 2 draft picks...a first rounder in 2012 and a 2nd rounder in either 2012 or 2013. 

Those picks will help the Bears down the road but the goaltending trade could hurt Hershey's depth for the immediate future.  As of right now Braden Holtby is likely considered the #2 in Washington.

The Caps also signed a few players...more on that later.

And I don't think the Caps are done yet either.  They still have restricted free agents to sign and stuff to work out. 

My thoughts...Alexander Semin (or maybe Mike Green?) is on the trade block and something could go down soon.  Haven't heard anything to make that more than pure speculation but according to the Caps only have 2 million left under the cap and players left to sign.  Something has to give.