HERSHEY, Pa. – The young career of defenseman Tobias Geisser has been unusual since the Washington Capitals selected him in the fourth round, 120th overall, in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Since he was drafted, the 6’4, 201-pound blueliner has twice done brief stints with the Hershey Bears, which ultimately led to him spending time overseas with Zug EV of the Swiss A league. Geisser spent the majority of the 2019-20 and all of the 2020-21 season in his native Switzerland, and it left a big question mark as to what his future would be with the organization. Now, in a contract year, the young defender has made significant strides in his development and has become a top defenseman for the Bears.
It’s been a year of significant change for the Bears on the back end, the most the club has seen in some time and most of any position during the summer. Gone is Martin Fehervary, who graduated to full-time duties with the Caps and is considered one of the top rookies in the NHL and All-Star nominated defender Cameron Schilling. Add in the departures of Rob O’Gara, Reece Willcox, and Paul LaDue to make Hershey’s situation much more fluid on the back end. The Capitals shopped around during the offseason and brought in Dylan McIlrath to add alongside the return of Bobby Nardella to full-time duty, while the Bears brought in Cody Franson to supplement the defensive group. Geisser, alongside Lucas Johansen, has now had the opportunity to earn bigger roles than they previously had amongst packed Hershey blue lines of years past, and it’s worked out well for all parties.
Geisser has traditionally played the role of defensive defenseman and did not put up many points in his previous stints in Hershey in the past. That has dramatically changed as he now has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 35 games played to this point, scoring his first AHL goal on December 29 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and adding a critical tying goal against the Toronto Marlies on January 15. His confidence with the puck has vastly improved this season, as he’s made a few brilliant passes and patient plays that resulted in finishes. One such play came on a January 25 game where he carried the puck in from the point and beat a defender to make a perfect pass to Kale Kessy for the finish.
— Bears Hockey Nation (@HBHNationBlog) January 26, 2022
Adding an offensive element to his game will be necessary for Geisser as he continues to push for an NHL spot with the Capitals. As a restricted free agent this summer, a big season like this will make it easy for the club to pursue an extension to see if his game can further blossom into the type of defender the Caps envisioned him to be when he was selected. Geisser has gone a step further to adjust and adapt to the North American style of play, upping the physical side of his game and using that big size to his advantage. The adjustment caught the eye of head coach Scott Allen, who praised his progress on several occasions during the season. With Calder Cup champion and former Bear Patrick Wellar working with the defenders, it’s an invaluable resource, as is his regular pairing with veteran blueliner Franson. Geisser sits at a respectable +4 rating this season, a good indicator that he’s making solid plays on the ice.
It all adds up to an extremely impressive job done by Hershey’s coaching staff this season. Unlike most seasons, it’s been a very turbulent year for the Bears throughout their lineup, with recalls and injuries knocking out some key pieces for extended periods. The steady play of Hershey’s young players and those who perhaps might not have played as big of a role over the years has minimized these losses and kept the Bears on track for a very strong first half, and the team owes a lot of success to Geisser’s incredible season.
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