Hershey update: 32-15-3-7, 1st in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 2-0-0-0
There was a lot of shakeup in Hershey with trades sending both Chris Brown and Connor Carrick out of Chocolate Town.
Brown was traded to the New York Rangers in exchange for Ryan Bourque, brother of Chris Bourque. The 25-year-old Ryan has 10 goals and 14 assists with AHL Hartford this season, the Rangers' AHL affiliate. He has played in one NHL game in his career.
Carrick was shipped to Toronto as part of the Brooks Laich trade and is now in essentially an extended NHL tryout. Capitals general manager spoke Monday about the decision to add Carrick to the trade package saying, “They wanted a prospect back and they requested Connor Carrick. We went back and forth over whether we wanted to give him up or not. He’s been good. We like what he’s done in Hershey and we project him to play in the NHL but that’s what we had to give up to get a deal done.”
With a very deep defensive core and Madison Bowey and Chrisitan Djoos also developing in Hershey, Carrick was expendable. While he struggled to stay in the lineup with the Caps, he went immediately to the NHL with Toronto and is expected to remain with the NHL squad for the remainder of the season.
Carrick has done well thus far, dropping the gloves in his first game with the Leafs. He also tallied an assist in Wednesday's game against the Caps.
Also gone from the ranks of the Bears is veteran Scott Gomez. Gomez asked for a release from his PTO with Hershey and signed with the Ottawa Senators. With 24 points in just 18 games with the Bears, the 36-year-old Gomez showed he still had some hockey left in him. With the injury to Kyle Turris, the Senators found themselves in need of a center depth.
Despite the losses from the roster, however, the Bears kept right on rolling with two wins and overtook the Toronto Marlies for first place in the Atlantic Division.
After scoring eight goals and 10 assists in February, Riley Barber was named the CCM/AHL Rookie of the Month. He celebrated with a goal and an assist in Sunday's 5-1 win over Utica.
No one, however, looked more impressive than Jakub Vrana. Vrana recorded one goal and three assist in the week and easily could have had more. Check out the highlights from Hershey's wins on Friday and on Sunday.
We all knew Vrana had talent, but he is really starting to take things to the next level. What was really impressive was that Vrana wasn't just making plays, he was creating them. He created opportunities both for himself and for his teammates with superb stick-handling, sharp instincts and great passes. Four points in two games is a good week's worth of work, but you can see from the highlights he could have had a lot more.
“There is a reason Vrana was a first-round draft pick," Hershey goalie Dan Ellis said of his teammate. "He has a bright future and is really just getting into his own stride now after being out for so long."
Other prospect notes:
It's playoff time in the KHL and Metallurg Magnitogorsk is moving on to the second round thanks to goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov. Samsonov played in four of the team's six games in the first round against Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg. He posted a record of 2-2 with a .912 save percentage and 2.29 GAA.
Samsonov was in net for the series-clinching Game 6 win in which he turned aside 20 out of 22 shots. Check out the highlights:
Look how far out of the crease Samsonov comes to challenge the shooters. He's not just at the top of the crease, there are some shots where he comes all the way out of it. Even at the age of 19, he is very aggressive. He goes down to the butterfly too quickly and was burned for it on the second goal he allowed, but the poise and confidence he has shown in the playoffs is fantastic. The KHL is widely regarded as the second-best league in the world and Samsonov is fitting right in.
Regina Pats defenseman Colby Williams was out of the lineup again last week, but looks like he is nearing his return. He told the Regina Leader-Post that the doctors are allowing him to increase hockey-related activities and that he believes he will return before the end of the season which is about two weeks away.
Williams has been struggling with injury problems related to his arm all season after suffering a significant laceration in the offseason. He recently underwent another surgery to remove scar tissue from his arm and repair the nerve damage. You can bet the Caps will be watching very closely when he does return to the lineup to make sure he is still the player the team thought he was when they drafted him last season in the sixth round.
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