WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Hershey Bears are idle until their season concludes with a pair of games on Saturday and Sunday, but saw a flurry of roster moves by their parent club on Monday. The Washington Capitals conclude their regular season on Tuesday with a game against the Boston Bruins. With the Capitals locked into second place, they’re able to experiment a little bit ahead of the game. The Capitals moved Martin Fehervary, Phil Maillet, and Pheonix Copley to the club’s taxi squad while re-assigning Mike Sgarbossa and Paul LaDue back to Hershey.
It’s a fairly even swap, as most of the roster movement this season has been between the Bears and the Capitals. The first such move involves forwards since Garrett Pilon and Sgarbossa were exchanged for Brian Pinho and Maillet towards the end of March. Pilon made his NHL debut on Saturday evening against the Philadelphia Flyers, a 2-1 overtime win for the Caps. Hershey has been fortunate not to be impacted too much by roster moves, as the team has dealt with its fair share of injuries, much like its NHL affiliate has of late.
Losing Fehervary and Maillet have a big impact on the Bears, as Maillet produced 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) in just 16 games, while Fehervary recently saw a five-game point streak conclude this past weekend and has produced 17 points (three goals, 14 assists) in 24 games, shattering his rookie season numbers in half the games played this season. Fehervary is just one point shy of Cameron Schilling for the team lead in points this season.
LaDue returns to Hershey after being recalled by Washington on April 13, while Sgarbossa’s recall took place on March 23. LaDue tallied six points (two goals, four assists) in 16 games while posting a plus-nine, and Sgarbossa had five goals and five assists in 13 games played earlier this season. Hershey will still have two solid players to fill in those spots.
The only area Hershey will lack a bit is in goal, as the Capitals recalled Pheonix Copley fresh off of his 100th AHL win and second shutout of the season on Saturday. Washington already recalled Zach Fucale to the taxi squad last week, and although Ilya Samsonov is technically unavailable due to COVID-19 protocols, the Caps still have four goaltenders available. Craig Anderson got the start on Saturday, while Vitek Vanecek has been very solid in goal for the Caps. Still, with the Bears idle for five days, there’s plenty of time for the situation to change before Saturday’s game against the Binghamton Devils.
If the Capitals were unable to send a goaltender to the Bears, it’s reasonable to say Hunter Shepard could go in back-to-back games for Hershey. The young netminder has been excellent in his first two AHL games and continues to put himself in a position to earn a bigger contract with the organization. Although the Capitals organization has several excellent goaltenders, a similar situation cost the team Logan Thompson, who has become one of the best in the AHL since then.