REGULAR_Hershey_Bears

Which of the Hershey Bears will find a place on the Capitals roster?

Last week the always-cryptic General Manager of the Washington Capitals, George McPhee, stated that “3 or 4 players here [in Hershey] are going to be on our team [the Capitals] next year.” So who are those 3 or 4?  Of course, it’s assumed that Karlznerson will be rocking the red.  You may also consider Michal Neuvirth another one to be calling the DC Metro area home in 2010-2011 season (barring circumstance with Jose Theodore’s negotiations).  Supposing we have hypothesized correctly about the first 3 players, a 4th spot on the Caps’ roster remains available for the taking.

Now, development and training camps are weeks away- and the free agency market has yet to open up.  If things were to stay as they are *this very second*, who would be that 4th player to graduate to the show?

Make the jump to take a look at the pro’s and con’s of a few possible candidates.

Andrew Gordon – RW – 5’11’’ – 180 lbs

2009-2010

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

PPG

SHG

Pt/G

PIM/PG

SOG

Reg. Season

79

37

34

71

22

57

19

0

0.9

0.72

195

Playoffs

17

13

7

20

2

2

6

0

1.18

0.12

56

Totals

96

50

41

91

24

59

25

0

251

A. Gordon spent this season in a somewhat different role than he was accustomed to, and rose to the occasion.  Being promoted from a 2nd or 3rd liner to the top line with two of the AHL’s most prolific scorers is a pretty big adjustment.  Gordon’s previous role was to be a body-banger in the corners, dig pucks out, and head to the net for deflections.  When he was assigned to the top line last fall, he maintained that aspect of his game, but also learned to always be ready for a pass (as one must be with Keith Aucoin on the ice), and park in front of the net at all costs.   He picked up a little bit of finesse’ to his style, yet still played a hard physical game.  

Now I know that some out there will spout off the “top-line-more-production” argument.  And while A. Gordon’s production did increase, his numbers on a lower line (as evidenced by the 2008-2009 season) were still pretty good:

2008-2009

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

PPG

SHG

Pt/G

PIM/PG

SOG

Reg. Season

80

21

24

45

16

47

4

0

0.56

0.59

198

Playoffs

22

6

4

10

0

6

2

0

0.45

0.27

51

Totals

102

27

28

55

16

53

6

0

249

In summary:
Upside: Strong skater that is successful on both ends of the ice
Downside: Haven’t really seen one yet in Hershey…
Recent Cap you can most compare him to: I’d say he’s like a young Sergei Fedorov.  Steadies the team, very skilled, not afraid to work, very disciplined.

Steve Pinizzotto – C – 6’1’’ – 195 lbs

2009-2010

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

PPG

SHG

Pt/G

PIM/PG

SOG

Reg. Season

69

13

28

41

40

124

0

5

0.59

1.8

105

Playoffs

21

5

3

8

6

33

0

1

0.38

1.57

28

Totals

90

18

31

49

46

157

0

6

13

During the AHL Eastern Conference finals, Gabby himself called Steve Pinizzotto out as a player that caught his eye.  Pinner possesses that “grit” the Caps are so in need of, yet offers a huge upside as well.  He lead the Bears’ top PK unit all year long and it was about 13 games into the regular season before any team’s Power Play could put a goal up against the Bears’ PK.  I know he didn’t do it all himself, but his knack for reading the opposition, intercepting a pass, and taking the puck down to the other end for a short-handed breakaway was a large part of the Bears’ success this season.  While he didn’t always end up with a short-handed goal, putting pressure in the other team’s zone is a great way to run down the penalty clock.  Throughout the regular season, Pinizzotto was considered “a pest with hands.”  He could play the role of the gnat, getting into the heads of the other teams without crossing the line.  Unfortunately, when playoffs came and emotions were high, there were a few instances when he couldn’t keep from crossing the line.  If Pinizzotto can keep his emotions in check when it matters most, he could be a big benefit to the Caps.

In summary:
Upside: Beast on the PK, battles on both ends of the ice, stands up for teammates when duty calls, finished the regular season with a team high +40 rating
Downside: Still learning to “walk the line”
Recent Cap you can most compare him to: Maybe you can consider him a meaner Matt Bradley with the same “self-sacrificing” effort of Quintin Laing

Chris Bourque – LW – 5’8’’ – 180 lbs

2009-2010

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

PPG

SHG

Pt/G

PIM/PG

SOG

Reg. Season

49

22

48

70

20

26

9

0

1.43

0.53

170

Playoffs

21

7

20

27

7

10

2

1

1.29

0.48

94

Totals

70

29

68

97

27

36

11

1

264

What a year for Chris Bourque.  Made the Caps out of training camp, couldn’t stay because of cap-space, waived to Hershey but picked up by Pittsburgh, was there until Pittsburgh waived him December, Caps picked him back up and assigned him to Hershey.  Whew.  Okay, here’s a confession.  I wasn’t always fond of C-Bo.  To many of us in Chocolatetown, it looked as if he took shift off, or would really only use that “C-Bo speed” when Daddy-Bourque was in the house (or George McPhee, or Bruce…).  Bourque would return to Hershey from a call-up with the big club clearly frustrated and play half-heartedly, as if he really thought he deserved to be somewhere better.  And then this year happened.  I don’t know what snapped him out of it, but he was back to rookie year-pre-injury Bourque form.  Skating hard every shift, working in the corners, settling the puck down to control the speed of the game…  Bourque came back (both on the ice and in my favor).  His efforts were reward with the AHL Calder Cup Playoff MVP trophy, and if he keeps it up, he could get a look for a permanent spot in DC (barring any salary cap casualties, of course).

In summary:
Upside: Can fill almost any role, PP, PK, top line scorer, low-line banger; Takes topless pictures with Mike Green
Downside: Bourque’s size is a question mark for many, yet he’s been better this season about banging back and not getting knocked off of the puck
Recent Cap you can most compare him to: He’s a stronger, more consistent, more physical version of Tomas Fleischman

Jay Beagle – C – 6’2’’ – 208 lbs

2009-2010

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

PPG

SHG

Pt/G

PIM/PG

SOG

Reg. Season

66

16

19

35

10

25

0

2

0.53

0.38

98

Playoffs

21

2

7

9

6

0

0

0

0.43

0

26

Totals

87

18

26

44

16

25

0

2

124

 

Jay Beagle flies under the radar a bit (with the exception of section 219 at the Giant Center – aka – Beagle’s Dog Pound).  He does all the dirty work to make things happen.  He’s one of those guys that doesn’t always show up on the score sheet, but if you remove him from the game, the team loses a key cog.  He’s very physical, makes the big hits to clear the way for his line mates digs the puck out of the corners, ties up opposing scorers, parks in front of the net…  I could go on for days.  It seems that Beagle’s key focus from last season to this season was to increase his foot speed, and from what I could tell, he really did step it up for this past season.  He had a taste of NHL play in his call-ups this year, and served his purpose well.  With all the quality guys fighting for a spot on the Caps’ roster, if nothing else, Beagle will serve as a more than capable call-up that can bring a ton of energy to whatever line he fills in on. 

In summary:
Upside: speed, hands, physical aspect, and pretty good in the face-off circle
Downside: I really can’t think of one
Recent Cap you can most compare him to: Think Boyd Gordon, but faster, stronger, and with a much better back

Mathieu Perreault – C – 5’9’’ – 166 lbs

2009-2010

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

PPG

SHG

Pt/G

PIM/PG

SOG

Reg. Season

56

16

34

50

23

34

7

0

0.89

0.61

94

Playoffs

21

7

12

19

14

18

1

0

0.9

0.86

29

Totals

77

23

46

69

37

52

8

0

12

Forgive me friends, for I am about to use a Twilight reference on a hockey blog.  [Ed. Note: This portion is not sanctioned by Rock the Red] Perreault is the “tiny dangerous one.”  His size has been a question for all of his critics, but he seems to always find a way to make them forget about it.  I’ve seen him put some pretty hard hits on guys that stand about 6’4”.  He has incredible hands and speed, and seems to dance through defenders as if they were two pylons on an obstacle course.  And to those of you who still aren’t believers, or think his numbers don’t show enough, go look at Francois Bouchard’s numbers – because even when Perreault didn’t get the assist, I can guarantee that at least 80% of the time Bouchard was on the score sheet, Perreault was the reason that play happened.  If he can keep his energy level up instead of letting it taper down (as he did during his fist call-up), I can guarantee Perreault will find a full-time NHL gig somewhere down the line, if the since vacated role of tiny center isn’t filled by Tomas Plekanic.

In summary:
Upside: speed, hands, & uncanny playmaking ability
Downside: some say size, others say consistency
Recent Cap you can most compare him to: I’ve heard many say they should put a decimal point in between the numbers on his Caps’ sweater and turn 85 into 8.5.  While I wouldn’t go that far, he’s definitely got Ovechkin-like tendencies.

So now that you’ve read our thoughts, why not give us your take on who you’d like to see make the Caps, and why? Who do you think would be a good fit within the organization? Who looks better in Red than Chocolate? We want to know!

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