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Capitals trim two more from roster, sending pair of goalies to Hershey

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Capitals trim two more from roster, sending pair of goalies to Hershey

Washington made a number of cuts early Saturday morning to trim their roster down to 43 players. On Saturday night, they cut it down to 41 as the team announced goalies Parker Milner and Adam Morrison were assigned to AHL Hershey.

Milner and Morrison’s departure leaves Washington with four goalies on the current roster in Braden Holtby, Pheonix Copley, Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov.

The trade of Philipp Grubauer left the backup role in Washington a matter of some question heading into the season, but the team’s top four was never really in doubt. Saturday’s move to send Milner and Morrison to the AHL only confirms what we already knew.

With Hershey’s training camp set to start on Monday, the Bears will obviously need two goalies which explains why the move was made now. 

This will likely only be a temporary move, however, as Vanecek and Samsonov are likely to be Hershey’s goalies heading into the regular season. For now, keeping them on the Capitals roster allows them to continue practicing against better competition and will allow them the opportunity for more work in the preseason.

The Capitals still have another three preseason games left to play, the next of which will take place on Tuesday in St. Louis. 

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Hershey and South Carolina will get a day with the Stanley Cup

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Hershey Bears

Hershey and South Carolina will get a day with the Stanley Cup

You can now add Hershey and Charleston to the long list of destinations for the Stanley Cup.

AHL affiliate to the Washington Capitals, the Hershey Bears will get a day with the Cup on October 7, the team announced Monday. Hershey will play the Bridgeport Sound Tigers that evening at 5 p.m. and fans will get a chance to have their picture taken with the Cup.

"It's a thrill to work with the Hockey Hall of Fame and the NHL to bring the Stanley Cup to our loyal fans in Hershey," Hershey's vice president of hockey operations Bryan Helmer said via a statement.

Andre Burakovsky,Tom Wilson, Jakub Vrana, Chandler Stephenson, Jay Beagle, Nathan Walker, Travis Boyd, John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos, Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer all have experience playing for Hershey in the past as does Pheonix Copley who was also on the playoff roster, though he did not play.

"With 14 former Bears on the roster of the 2018 Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, Hershey played a large part in our affiliate's victory, so it's only appropriate the Stanley Cup spends time in Chocolatetown, U.S.A."

The Stanley Cup will also be making a trip to Charleston to visit the Caps' ECHL affiliate, South Carolina Stingrays, on Oct. 20 for the team's opener.

The Prince of Wales Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy and Rocket Richard Trophy will also travel with the Cup to both destinations.

Making a stop at an AHL affiliate is not a required trip, but given the impact those teams have on players' development, it should become a traditional stop each and every summer for every team that wins the Cup.

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4 reasons Capitals fans should pay close attention to the Hershey Bears this season

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4 reasons Capitals fans should pay close attention to the Hershey Bears this season

If you’re someone who follows the Capitals’ prospects closely, chances are you probably follow the Hershey Bears pretty closely, too. The Bears are, after all, Washington’s AHL affiliate.

Many Caps fans, however, are not as into minor league hockey and take a “wake me up when they get to Washington” attitude towards the team’s prospects.

This year, however, you really should be paying attention to the Bears and everything going on in Chocolate Town. Here’s why.

Ilya Samsonov’s start in North America

Widely seen as the team’s future in net, Samsonov is finally on this side of the pond, ready to start his North American career.

General manager Brian MacLellan said Samsonov will start this season in Hershey as he begins to adjust to the North American game. The smaller rink size makes it a difficult adjustment.

But Samsonov is not graduating from junior hockey to pro, he spent the last three seasons playing in the KHL and posting some impressive numbers.

While the plan is to bring Samsonov along slowly, how quickly he develops and how he plays this year in the AHL bears watching. Pheonix Copley is expected to start this season as the backup goalie for the Caps and is also entering the last year of his contract.

Will Samsonov be ready to back up Braden Holtby next season? If Copley struggles, will he play well enough in Hershey to earn a call up this year?

The team’s defenseman will start the season on Hershey’s roster

Jonas Siegenthaler, Connor Hobbs and Lucas Johansen are three prospects believed to have NHL potential and it was clear at development camp those three remain the closest to being NHL ready.

It seems unlikely any of those three would be slated to start the season with Washington, however. If the Caps go with the six defensemen they currently have on the roster, that would mean a third pairing of Christian Djoos – Madison Bowey and it’s likely too soon to turn to those two as a pair for 82 games. That means the Caps will likely bring in a veteran defenseman to cycle into the lineup.

An injury to Matt Niskanen last season, however, saw Bowey graduate to the NHL where he ended up playing 51 games. Depending on how Siegenthaler, Hobbs and Johansen play in Hershey, one of them could be in line to be the next injury call-up.

An influx of offensive prospects

The Bears’ leading scorer from last season, Chris Bourque, announced via Twitter that he will not be returning to Hershey. This team will be going in a very different direction in 2018-19.

Juuso Ikonen, Shane Gersich, Max Kammerer, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby and Brian Pinho all signed entry-level contracts with the Caps in the spring and all are expected to start next season in Hershey, though Gersich may be in the running for a spot on the Caps’ roster as well. In addition, Garrett Pilion and Beck Malenstyn, who signed entry-level deals in 2017, will be graduating from juniors to professional hockey this season.

That’s a lot of new offensive talent to work with. Not everyone is going to get a roster spot and some of these players could end up in South Carolina playing in the ECHL. But, if you want a chance to look at the next batch of forwards who will be competing to one day reach the NHL and put on the Caps’ sweater, you need to be watching Hershey's forwards this season.

A new coach

Troy Mann will be replaced this season by Spencer Carbery. Carbery was the head coach of the South Carolina Stingrays for five seasons starting in 2011 at the age of 29 giving him a level of familiarity with the Capitals organization.

Carbery was at Capitals development camp and spoke of the delicate balance between wanting to win at the AHL level while still focusing on developing the team’s NHL prospects.

It's a little bit tricky with Washington-Hershey just because Hershey has such a rich tradition of winning there and their fans are very passionate. They expect a certain standard and they want to win championships. That's a good thing to me as a coach. The development component, making sure that young players are getting better and they're able to make mistakes, but then we correct those mistakes. But I think going into a situation in Hershey where there is an expectation to win, I don't think that's a bad thing for a young player. We all want to win hockey games at every level you play at, even when you're a young player. Learning that early for development for me isn't an issue.

Carbery is being entrusted with several new, young offensive players, three defensemen hoping for a shot at the NHL as early as this season and a goalie pegged to be the future of the Capitals. No pressure there.

How will this first-year AHL coach handle the influx of young talent and balance Hershey’s desire to win with Washington’s desire to develop?

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