Free agency began earlier in July and while the Washington Capitals have done nothing except wave goodbye to past players and sign a restricted free agent, the Bears have made some additions.
New Bears include goalie David Leggio, defensemen Tyson Strachan and David Kolomatis, and forwards Derek Whitmore and Matt Watkins.
You can see the current roster on the 2013-14 Potential Roster page.
Those signings leave the Bears with 3 goalies under contract and another Sergey Kostenko is expected to be signed in the coming weeks.
David Leggio was one of the best goalies in the AHL last season so his teaming up with Grubauer gives the Bears coaching staff significant confidence in their starting tandem. Nothing against Dany Sabourin, but his play last year wasn't as strong as he had been in previous years which put a lot of stress on Grubauer late in the season.
On defense there are currently 13 players that could, conceivably, play for the Bears this upcoming season. Kundratek would have to clear waivers to come though so he may be as good as gone from the Bears plans. Oleksy finished the season in Washington and Orlov spent plenty of time there the season before.
The Caps have 6 defensemen under contract right now not including Orlov or Oleksy. Barring an additional signing I fully expect one or both of them to stick to start the season. My guess is one stays and the other comes to Hershey as a first call up. Oates likes to run pairings of lefties/righties so that will surely play a role.
Forward is where the entire organization is still lacking a little bit. The Caps have 12 forwards under contract...including youngster Tom Wilson. If you count Marcus Johanssen, which you should, they have 13. They may start the season with that many or they may choose to add another for 14.
Hershey has, by my numbers, 12 forwards under contract. On the roster page I show 13 only because Deschamps is a restricted free agent who WAS tendered a contract so he will almost definitely be back. I fully expect the Bears to add a few more forwards at some point this summer.
Just one more note...there are 4 veterans on the Hershey roster right now. 5 can dress in any given game (6 if one is under 320 games played). That means you will likely see another veteran signed before the season starts. The last 2 years the Bears entered the season with 6 and had to sit someone each game. It didn't work in either situation so hopefully they don't try it again.
It's a good roster. The goalies are as good a pairing as will find in the AHL. The defense is talented, deep and bigger than last year with the addition of Kolomatis and Strachan. Wey and Cajkovsky are also big guys, but they are younger.
Forward is looking solid to me. I am a big Latta believer and think Wellman is a premier forward. If Stoa can find his past scoring touch and Galiev is given a role he can thrive in (think top 2 lines) then this team could be an offensive force to be reckoned with. Add in the toughness of Rechlicz and Byers and you have a team not many are going to want to play.
It's shaping up to be an exciting season in Hershey, but we all know that teams don't win on paper. Can't wait until the season starts!!