HERSHEY, Pa. – Although the 2020-21 Hershey Bears season is still quite a while away, the wheels don’t stop spinning for the club (even with the ice gone at the Giant Center).
Not too long ago, we took a look at the contract statuses of the Bears following the conclusion of this season, and we’re looking in-depth at each player while we patiently wait for hockey to return. The big assumption we’re making is that the offseason will proceed as it does ordinarily, despite the likely shuffling of time tables that haven’t been made official yet.
With Hershey and Washington extending their affiliation recently, the focus shifts to shaping the team for 2020-21. That process begins with renewing restricted free agents. Today, we’re talking about Shane Gersich, who becomes a restricted free agent this summer.
Gersich becomes a restricted free agent, and technically, this becomes the second time he’s up for a new contract after being signed to a one-year deal last summer. Washington burned a year off of his two-year entry level deal back in 2017-18, luring him to the organization by having him play three regular season and two postseason games, earning one assist in an April 7, 2018 match against the New Jersey Devils. Gersich was among the players to lift the Stanley Cup with the Capitals in the summer of 2018.
In Hershey, Gersich tallied eight goals and 16 assists in his debut season with the Bears, totaling 24 points and 57 penalty minutes in the regular season. After putting up a goal and two assists in the 2019 postseason, Gersich seemed on the way to top his rookie season totals in 2019-20, eclipsing his goal count with ten and just six points shy of his rookie totals with 12 less games played. Gersich cut down his penalty minute totals by more than half, with just 24 by the time the season ended. Despite some injury troubles with Hershey, Gersich has become a reliable player for Bears Head Coach Spencer Carbery to call on, including a clutch sixth-round shootout winner over Wilkes-Barre back on January 10.
This was the decisive moment in the shootout – Copley blanks his sixth straight shooter and Shane Gersich wins it with a beautiful shot that. @zackfisch called ahead of time. pic.twitter.com/YhlJpPgKgP
— Bears Hockey Nation (@HBHNationBlog) January 11, 2020
The Capitals should be eager to extend Gersich, as the team went to some lengths to secure his signing with the organization when he made the jump to the professional ranks. With the Bears on track to hopefully repeat in 2021 what should have been a solid run at the Calder Cup in 2020, it would be an excellent opportunity for Gersich to continue to prove himself with the Bears and the organization. It doesn’t appear as though the Caps have a ton of potential roster spots available in 2020-21, but the team will certainly be scouting their AHL talent should the need arise. Gersich will have to work hard to stand out amongst his peers with players like Beck Malenstyn and Brian Pinho playing well in their roles.
Should Gersich return, the goals for him will likely be to become a top-six player for Hershey and upping his production numbers. Although the 2019-20 season is shortened and will always have that asterisk by it, the campaign was a big step forward for Gersich, even if it might not get a ton of recognition that it deserves. He has proven to be a reliable two-way player with the Bears, playing on the penalty kill and scoring a pair of shorthanded goals against the Providence Bruins in different games in November. He also had two power play goals in 2018-19.
When Gersich is healthy and at his best, he’s a dangerous weapon for Hershey, and the Capitals should recognize that with a new contract for 2020-21.
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