Saturday, June 30, 2012

News around Hershey

So a guy goes on vacation for a week and a few things of note take place.  Obviously a good deal has happened this offseason so far and I haven't exactly been updating with any type of frequency.  Let's take a second and look at some of the stories I haven't mentioned to date.

Cody Eakin traded

The Capitals traded the young center and a 2nd round pick to the Dallas Stars for Mike Ribeiro.  Eakin was likely destined for the Bears roster for at least part of the upcoming season so this can be considered to have a direct impact on the Bears 2012-13 roster. 

For the Caps I love this trade.  They have been missing a true 2nd line center since Sergei Federov left and Ribeiro should fill that role admirably. 

For the Bears I don't hate this trade.  Yes Eakin was a good young talent and always played hard, but he would have been a top recall option for the Caps this season and likely wouldn't have been much of a factor come playoff time assuming the Caps make the playoffs and bring up some extra bodies.  So yes I think Eakin would have been a member of the Bears for much of the season and would have been a top contributor, but at the same time I think this allows the Bears to go out and sign a free agent that has a better chance to last in the AHL this season.

Rule Changes

The AHL is getting video replay for questionable goals.  This is obviously a good thing for the game as there were some questionable goals scored against (and surely for) the Bears this past season.  In theory, the replay will remove the doubt from some of the goals. 

My only concern is how the equipment works on an arena by arena basis.  Unlike the NHL system this will be done by each team and will be all in house.  Therefore, you could come across a situation where the equipment at one arena is inferior to the equipment at another.  Time will tell, but overall I don't see where this is ever a bad thing. 

One other rule change that you will notice immediately is being done at the request of the NHL.  A variation of a no-touch icing rule will be in effect until November 19, 2012.  Basically if the puck is already across the goal line and the defensive player is the first to reach the faceoff dot, the play is whistled at that point. 

The theory behind the no-touch icing is to eliminate the collisions that take place when players are racing for the puck beyond the goal line.  I don't see how this changes anything.  Within the current rules injuries are probably rare when the defenseman reaches the faceoff dots first anyways as the forward likely isn't coming that hard anymore.  The times when injuries surface are when two guys are still neck and neck at that point, which will not be affected by this rule.

Both rules are for the betterment of the game and I don't think either is, in any situation, bad for the game.  But I also don't think they are earth shattering changes.

Jacob Micflikier to Europe

I honestly believed that the Bears/Caps were going to give Micflikier another contract and the diminutive winger would be back in Hershey for at least another year.   Alas, that isn't going to be the case as he has signed to play in Switzerland for the upcoming year.  Based on the linked article from Tim Leone, it sounds as though he was close to resigning with the organization but is hoping a shift to a different league might give teams a different view of him.

At the age of 28, Micflikier is running out of time to impress NHL staffs and get a legitimate shot in the league.  I am not convinced that going to Switzerland is really the best thing for any player.  The game in Europe is much different than the North American game and you rarely hear of players having success with "re-launching" their careers in Europe.  If they do it is surely when they play in either the KHL or Swedish Elite League.

Chris Bourque played in Switzerland for the 2010-11 season before returning to the AHL last season and having an MVP caliber season.  If Bourque gets an NHL opportunity this upcoming season he will have this past season to thank...not his year in Europe.

The AHL is arguably the second best league in the world.  Maybe the financial parts of his deal were more influential than we realize (I have no idea what the terms are), but if he is truly using this as a launching pad then I question the logic.

But hey, what do I know.  Good luck Jacob!

Mike Carman is signed for 2012-13

Carman was a restricted free agent and the Capitals had tendered him an offer so the chances of him leaving were slim to none already.  But yesterday it was made official as he signed a one year contract with the organization.  Based on numbers from he will make $65,000 in the AHL this season, a $5,000 a year raise from last year. 

Carman played in 32 games for the Bears in 2011-12 after coming over in a trade from the Colorado/Lake Erie organization.  He scored 7 goals and added 5 assists while bouncing around from the 2nd-4th line.  He is a center in the mold of Andrew Joudrey, a solid defensive player with a limited offensive game.  He is a role player with some upside. 

Glad to see him back for 2012-13.

Capitals Developmental Camp

The Capitals announced that their annual summer development camp will take place from July 9-14 in Washington.  A roster for the camp has not yet been announced, but it is generally recent draft choices as well as rookie free agents.  There are typically signings that result from the camp and possibly even a player that could contribute in Hershey this upcoming year.  Time will tell.  I have yet to go to one of these....someday I will make it down.

Free Agency begins tomorrow, July 1

NHL/AHL free agency period is open for business tomorrow.  With an expiring CBA currently being negotiated you might see a little more cautious activity than usual as teams can't be certain of an exact salary cap number for 2012-13 but plenty of activity will surely take place.

On this site we are mainly concerned with how signings impact the Hershey Bears.  And thanks to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins beat writer Jonathan Bombulie we have a comprehensive list of AHL talent that is available.  On June 24 he posted his top 250 list that identifies, in his opinion, the top 250 AHL caliber players available.  

As of this morning the list is somewhat jumbled as players have been eliminated and/or added due to qualifying offers being made.  He will be updating the list tomorrow and, if I remember, I will update this post to include that link. 

He has Keith Aucoin ranked as the #2 player available.  I am honestly somewhat concerned that Keith hasn't resigned with the organization already.  Hopefully it is just a formality, but something tells me he is curious to hear what teams are offering.  If he manages to get a one way offer from an organization I have to imagine he will take it...I would.  Hopefully he comes back, but if he doesn't I hope he finds permanent success in the NHL.

I am excited to see who the Caps/Bears sign as there are lots of spots open on the Hershey roster and a limited number of prospects available to fill them.  The #1 player on the list is LW Jonathan Audy-Marchessault who played for the Connecticut Whale last season, scoring 24 goals and adding 40 assists in his first pro season.  He is a small forward, only 5'9", which explains why he wasn't drafted by an NHL team.  But as the Norfolk Admirals are well aware (and the Bears for that matter), smaller players can pack an offensive punch at this level.  Might the Bears be in on the Audy-Marchessault sweepstakes....who knows.

That's all for now.  For the next month there should be some regular updates as we discuss players that have signed with the Caps/Bears.  The roster will begin taking shape tomorrow.