Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bears Go Shopping

After sitting by on day 1 of free agency the Bears have made a pretty big splash this holiday week.  On Monday the Bears signed 4 players to AHL only contracts and then added another yesterday.  Prior to that the Capitals made a signing that could (likely will) influence Hershey.  Without further delay...

Jeff Taffe

This is probably the most recognizable name to Bears fans.  Taffe played for the Baby Pens in 2007-08 and 2008-09.  In fact, his best career season, in regards to total points, was 08-09 when he recorded 25 goals and 50 assists in 74 games.  His career for goals in a season is 30, recorded two years ago while playing in Rockford.  His linemate in Rockford that season...Ryan Potulny.  Just sayin'.

Last year, while playing in Houston, he recorded 18 goals and 35 assists over 73 games while also picking up 2 assists for the Minnesota Wild in 5 NHL games.

Taffe has played in more than 320 professional games and is will count against the Bears veteran limit.  He is actually signed to an AHL one way contract right now as that came with more money than a two-way deal would have at the AHL level.  He has played in at least 1 NHL game in every season since he finished his college career and expectations are that the Caps will not hesitate to sign him to an NHL deal should they need him.

Jon DiSalvatore

This name is, to me anyways, much less recognized.  He has spent the past three years in Houston, playing alongside Taffe last year, and has been their captain all three years.  He has played 9 AHL seasons and has scored 20 or more goals in all of them.  He has scored 28 in each of the last two seasons.

He is durable as well.  He has missed only 1 game the past three regular seasons and has played in 72 or more games in all but one of his 9 AHL seasons.  And that one season he still played in 66 games.

Like Taffe, he will count against Hershey's veteran limit.

Alex Berry

Last season Berry was a member of the Portland Pirates but suffered a compound arm fracture in training camp and missed the whole season.  Prior to that the 26 year old right wing spent the 2010-11 season with the Norfolk Admirals where he recorded 14 goals and 20 assists.

Steve Oleksy

Oleksy has played in only 67 career AHL games so he is more of a depth signing than anything, especially considering the players already under contract on the blue line, but as we have seen in recent can never have too much depth.  Last season he played 50 games for Bridgeport.  He scored 1 goal and added 14 assists while also finishing a +16 (third on the team).

Mathieu Beaudoin

Mr. Beaudoin broke into the AHL back in 2007-08 and played 7 games for the Bears that season before moving on to additional playing time and opportunity.  In 2010-11 he scored 21 goals and added 30 assists in just 63 games as a member of the San Antonio Rampage and played in the AHL All-Star game in Hershey.

Last season he battled a thumb injury for much of the season and only played in 47 games for Portland, recording 5 goals and 17 assists.  He was also a member of the Texas Stars in the 2010 Calder Cup finals against the Bears.

One of the best qualities that he brings to the team this year is that he is not a veteran.  So he is an offensive skill player that will not count against the teams veteran limit which should open the door to plenty of playing time.  Unlike DiSalvatore though, he appears to be a bit more fragile.  He hasn't played in more than 72 games in any of his professional seasons.

Garrett Stafford

This is the only player of this group that is a Washington Capitals signing.

Stafford played his 2011-12 season split between Hamilton and Portland.  He only played in 48 games between the two teams but recorded 9 goals and 19 assists in those games.

Like Beaudoin, he was a member of the Texas Stars 2010 Calder Cup finals team against Hershey.  In fact, Doug Yingst had this to say about Stafford:
“We collectively [with Washington] designated Garrett as the No. 1 right-handed defenseman available on a two-way contract for the American Hockey League,” Yingst said. “We thought when Texas played against us -- they had him and Andrew Hutchinson as their No. 1 and 2 -- we thought Stafford was better. Our need, obviously, on our depth chart is for right-handed D.”
Stafford will also count against the veteran limit.

Kevin Marshall

Marshall has agreed to terms for the 2012-13 season.  As a restricted free agent this doesn't surprise me too much, but it always good to officially get guys under contract with time to spare.