With an overtime goal by Nicolas Blanchard of the Charlotte Checkers, the Hershey Bears’ season ended, preventing the chance for a Calder Cup three-peat. Michal Neuvirth helped carry Hershey to the championship each of the past two seasons, but now he’s trying to do the same with the Capitals.
The question following the Bears’ elimination now becomes – which players will get called up for the Stanley Cup Playoffs? Here’s some (hopefully intelligent) speculation.
Braden Holtby figures to be a gimme. Holtby went 10-2-2 with a 1.79 goals-against average in his call-ups during the regular season. He was 2-4 with a 3.01 GAA in Hershey’s first-round playoff series.
Mathieu Perreault also seems a likely choice, given that he played 35 games with the Caps and had seven goals and seven assists in that time. Washington’s acquisition of Jason Arnott meant Perreault was sent packing to Hershey – but expect him back at Kettler this week.
Charismatic forward Andrew Gordon could get the call as well, though he missed four of the Bears’ six playoff games with a lower-body injury. Keith Aucoin, who led the Bears with eight playoff points, is another option. Gordon appeared in nine Caps games this season and Aucoin in one.
On the back end, the Caps are hoping to get Dennis Wideman back and already have Sean Collins and Tyler Sloan around for depth. But if they want more defensemen, Brian Fahey and Patrick McNeill seem like the top picks. Dmitry Orlov could practice here but is not eligible to play.
There are no roster or salary cap limits in the playoffs, so teams can call up any number of “Black Aces” for practice purposes and just in case of injury.