Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hockey Back in Hershey

Well if you are a regular reader of this blog then you were probably starting to wonder if I was ever coming back to write again.  My last post went up on the 15th of July.

Sorry about that.

I would like to take this chance to makes sure that anyone reading the blog should also like the blog page on Facebook so you can continue to get updates.  The blog might only see sporadic updates, but there are things posted or shared on the Facebook page on an almost daily basis.

But now that we are (almost) back to hockey in Hershey I figured I would make my triumphant return to the blogging world.

Camp Has Begun

Monday was technically the first day of preseason camp in Hershey.  Many of the guys had started in Washington's camp so they have been skating with each other for a bit, but some guys were waiting for the Bears to start.

Yesterday was the first on ice practice of the season and it seems like things are starting off fast.
“It was a good skate, a really fast pace out there,” winger Brandon Segal said. “It's nice coming in and getting a skate in like that. Obviously, it just bodes well for the weeks ahead.”
This is coach Mike Haviland's first Bears camp so many of the players will be adjusting to how he does things in the coming weeks.  In addition to getting used to the system, which will be similar to the one run in Washington, the players have to 'show off' for their new coaches.
“I'm a new coach,” Haviland said. “I haven't had many of these guys. I'm watching them every time they step on that ice and off the ice, how they conduct themselves. They're being evaluated."
Haviland also said that he is always very honest with players so they will know where they stand.  That will hopefully help what is going to be a very crowded Bears lineup over the next week.

The Capitals still have 33 players in camp and need to get down to 23 next Monday.  With another preseason game tonight I would expect another couple of cuts tomorrow.

The roster in Hershey is going to be deep and talented...on paper.

But we all know that 'on paper' means less than nothing.  Entering the season each of the past 3 years I think many people thought the Bears looked good 'on paper' only to see their season end early each year.

Will this year be different?  I sure as heck hope so.  And, as always, I fully expect it to.

But I do think that the season will start off slowly.  It isn't that Hershey's schedule is daunting, only 4 games in the first 3 weekends of the season, but when you have a new coach it can take some time.

The slow start will help get the system in place, but it won't let Haviland really experiment with the roster that much either.  Which means the roster tweaking may continue into November before a core set of guys and lines are formed.

Either way it promises to be an exciting season.

Tomas Kundratek

The Capitals have placed Kundratek on waivers with the intention of him reporting to Hershey when he clears.  Tomas played much of last season in Washington and was expected to get a shot there again to start the season, but the strong play of Connor Carrick (more below on him) has made him somewhat expendable.

An advantage to putting a guy through waivers now instead of on the 30th is that teams aren't looking to add guys at this point.  They have their own roster decisions to make and don't want to add another one.

Connor Carrick and Tom Wilson

I got a question on the Facebook page about why Tom Wilson is not eligible to play in Hershey this season.  This is because he was drafted out of the CHL (Canadian Juniors) and there is an agreement in place between the leagues that any player drafted out of there that isn't 20 by December 31 of that season or that hasn't played in at 4 seasons in the CHL is not eligible to play in the AHL.

This was put into place to keep the competitiveness up in the CHL.  If they allowed younger players to play in the AHL then surely NHL clubs would send all of their prospects straight to the minors so they could have more 'control' of their development.Wilson doesn't turn 20 until March and has only played in 3 CHL seasons, making him ineligible for Hershey.

However, it would appear as though he is nearing a spot on the Capitals in which case we may never see him in Hershey.  The Caps needed to clear cap space in order to keep him in Washington and the demotion of Kundratek signals that move being made.  The Caps would now be able to keep Wilson and stay under the salary cap for 2013-14.

Connor Carrick is included in this discussion because he is also 19 and actually 2 weeks younger than Wilson.  Except Connor was NOT drafted out of the CHL and is therefore eligible to play in Hershey this season.  He has been impressing everyone in Caps camp and is right now considered to be possibly in their plans to start the season.  Should he not make the Caps it seems likely he would spend the season in the AHL.

Nathan Walker

Here is Tim Leone's piece on the skating Aussie.  Nathan Walker is trying to become the first Australian to ever play in the NHL.  He was signed to a Hershey contract and is expected to play here this season.

Walker is in a unique spot though as he is still draft eligible.  That means that despite him playing in Hershey this upcoming season, he will be entered into the NHL draft next summer and could be drafted by any of the 30 teams.   It will be interesting to see how he fits into the plans in Hershey and/or Reading for this season and what that does to his draft stock.  This doesn't seem like a common situation.

Camp Roster (from PennLive)

GOALTENDERS (4): Brandon Anderson, Riley Gill, David Leggio, Matt Tendler.

DEFENSEMEN (12): Mike Banwell, Julien Brouillette, Erik Burgdoerfer, Brett Flemming, Chay Genoway, Ryan Kavanagh, David Kolomatis, Bryant Molle, Cameron Schilling, Nate Schmidt, Patrick Wellar, Patrick Wey.

FORWARDS (19): Josh Brittain, Nicolas Deschamps, Stanislav Galiev, Dustin Gazley, Jamie Johnson, Peter LeBlanc, David Marshall, Garrett Mitchell, Domenic Monardo, Louke Oakley, Tyler Ruegsegger, Brandon Segal, Ryan Stoa, T.J. Syner, Jeff Taffe, Nathan Walker, Matt Watkins, Casey Wellman, Derek Whitmore.

That is it for my first post in 2 months.  The Bears play 3 preseason games this weekend before opening the season at home on October 5.

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