ARLINGTON, VA – With the NHL trade deadline looming on Wednesday, the Washington Capitals made a big splash by trading for St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. Hershey center Brad Malone is on the move as part of the return along with Zach Sanford. Blues Goaltender Phoenix Copley joins Shattenkirk on the way to Washington. Undoubtedly a big move at a key time at both the AHL and NHL level for the Washington organization.
We’ve spoken at length on the goaltending woes of the Hershey Bears since January. Vitek Vanecek being the hot and cold rookie that he is with no real backup options behind him, Copley is a welcome addition. The 25-year-old netminder re-join Hershey after appearing in 26 games as a rookie in 2014-2015 when he went 17-4-3 with three shutouts. Copley was initially traded on July 1st, 2015 to St. Louis for TJ Oshie. Copley playing with the Chicago Wolves this season is 15-6-3 in 25 games with a 2.31 goals against average and .920 save percentage to go along with it. His season numbers are immediately better than any Hershey netminder and will provide an important boost at a time when points are of the utmost importance for the Bears.
Zach Sanford, in the meantime, has stepped up his game for the Bears and earned NHL ice time with an injury to the top nine in Washington. He showed the ability to change a game when he played with confidence for the Bears and they will miss that game changing ability. It is likely that either Jakub Vrana or Riley Barber will rotate NHL call-ups barring to replace the injured Andre Burakovsky in Washington barring any further trades.
While losing players like Sanford and Malone hurts the Bears, Hershey is no longer required to scratch a player due to the AHL veteran scratch by losing Malone. The bigger issue was goaltending and that has now been addressed. Hershey is a deeper at forward than other position and has options in South Carolina if necessary. Dominic Monardo who has already played in eight games for Hershey this season has 32 points (11 G, 21 A) in 40 games for the Stingrays. Another option would be John Parker who has 12 goals and 13 assists in 45 games for the Rays. Kelly Zajac is another name that is currently up with the team and has one goal and an assist in five games with the Bears.
Deadline time is a chaotic and fluid period for everyone in hockey. We’re still officially a day away from the actual deadline at 3 pm on March 1st. Stick with The Sin Bin for the latest.