Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hershey, PA: A Breeding Group for Future NHL Stars

After sweeping through their weekend schedule, I felt it was due time to take a look at the state of affairs with the Hershey Bears.

So far this season they have left nothing to the imagination of fans, racing out of the gates to a 12-5-0-1 record, while blowing out their opponents in the process.

Case in point: Saturday November 14th, 2008 and Sunday November 15th, 2008. The Bears took on the Philadelphia Phantoms and the Binghampton Senators and beat them soundly; 7-4 and 9-0 respectively.

This is nothing out of the ordinary, as they have already beaten Wilkes-Barre 8-4 on Opening Night, as well as a 7-1 drubbing of the Syracuse Crunch.

Needless to say, the offense has been tantalizing to date, and indicates the bright future ahead for the Washington Capitals.

On the Cusp

Karl Alzner - Defense - Drafted 1st Round, 5th Overall in 2007 Entry Draft

Alzner has exceeded the monumental expectations bestowed upon him rather effortlessly. Playing for the most part with Sami Lepisto (as well as Josh Godfrey), Alzner has been a staple on Hershey's blue line, and is tied for first in rookie +/- (fourth in the entire AHL) with fellow teammate Oskar Osala. Though he will never be leaned upon to produce the numbers of an offensive defenseman, he is still able to find the score sheet (8 points in 16 games) as well as log quality powerplay time. It appears that it is only a matter of time before this budding prospect gets his crack at the NHL.

Chris Bourque - Left wing - Drafted 2nd Round, 33rd Overall in 2004 Entry Draft

Since arriving at Capitals training camp in September, the former Boston College product has been a man on a mission. Despite his lack of size, Bourque is following up a record year stats wise with one that's been equally impressive to date. A late cut from Capitals camp, Bourque clearly has dazzling offensive talent and when put to use, he ranks amongst the Elite in the AHL. If he is able to increase his statistics, he will have a legitimate chance to make Washington's roster next season.

Sami Lepisto - Defense - Drafted 3rd Round, 66th Overall in 2004 Entry Draft

It took Sami a little longer than expected to make the trek to the North American rinks. A major shoulder surgery set him back half of a season with Jokerit in 2005-06, but he showed no ill-effects the following season, as he finished the year with the most points of any Bears defenseman. His defensive partner Josef Boumedienne has since left the organization, now playing with the Toronto Marlies, forcing Lepisto through a transition period. After a sluggish start, he is now starting to find his stride and is returning to the form he showed last year. With the lack of depth on the Capitals blue line this season, there is a chance they could make a trade to involve both Lepisto and Alzner in their immediate plans.

*Sunday's installment of THE WEAGLE will focus on the abundance of rookies whom are on the rise.

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