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Capitals Sign Frank, Hofer to NHL Contracts

#AHL | The @Capitals have signed Ethen Frank and Ryan Hofer to NHL contracts beginning next season. @FPHBears explains what the signings could mean for @TheHersheyBears.

Ethen Frank (shown here) and Ryan Hofer have signed NHL contracts with the Washington Capitals. Photo courtesy of Carl Minieri/Field Pass Hockey

Capitals Sign Frank, Hofer to NHL Contracts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Washington Capitals, parent club of the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears, announced a pair of signings this week as both Ethen Frank and Ryan Hofer were signed to National Hockey League contracts beginning in the 2023-24 season. Frank’s is a one-year, two-way contract while Hofer’s is a three-year, entry-level contract.

Frank stays within the organization after playing the 2022-23 campaign on an AHL contract with the Bears. Hofer is currently skating with the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL after being drafted in the sixth round, 181st overall, by the Capitals in 2022 as an over-ager, similar to former Bear Brett Leason. The moves help bring some early shape for the Bears ahead of the offseason as both players will be eligible to play for Hershey next season.

Frank, 25, is in his first full professional season after a brief stint with the Bears during the 2021-22 campaign but has quickly adapted in his first year. The former NCAA scoring champ with the Western Michigan University Broncos leads the Bears in scoring with 41 points (24 goals, 17 assists) in 45 games played. He also leads the AHL in goals among rookies and is second in the league in terms of points among first-year players. Frank’s accolades in his first season include being named the AHL Rookie of the Month in January, representing the Bears in the AHL All-Star Classic in Laval, and setting the league’s fastest skater mark at 12.915 seconds in the event’s skills competition.

Frank’s father, as well as his former club, both expressed their excitement for him on social media on Thursday.

Hofer, 20, is the brother of Springfield Thunderbirds goaltender Joel Hofer. The younger Hofer has contributed nicely this season in the WHL between the Blazers and the Everett Silvertips, tallying a cumulative 58 points (36 goals, 28 assists) in 53 games between the two clubs. Although this season is just his third in the WHL, his age makes him eligible to make the leap to the professional ranks next season.

The 6’3, 181-pound center may be a steal in the draft, as described on Elite Prospects’ Draft Guide.

“He pre-scans before getting pucks, deceives by angling his feet in the opposite direction he’s planning to go, and then establishes body positioning. Throws reverse hits with perfect timing, then moves to the inside. He’s mostly a shooter, showing an NHL-caliber in-stride wrister, as well as some off-puck instincts.”

The signings are welcome additions to the Bears, who are looking at some roster uncertainty as it pertains to the Capitals. Washington has shed players and salary at the deadline and still have multiple pending unrestricted free agents when the summer arrives. Hershey will likely be a destination for both players at some point, and retaining the team’s leading scorer in Frank, while adding a youngster in Hofer, goes a long way towards keeping the Bears competitive for the near future. The roster will no doubt have plenty of shaping to take when the time comes, but having two promising players in the fold helps to build the foundation for the team ahead of that time.

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