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 CapGeek.com the Caps only have 2 million left under the cap and players left to sign. Something has to give.