Looking Ahead: Bears’ Restricted Free Agents

As the American Hockey League Calder Cup playoffs wind down, teams will soon be making adjustments to their roster heading into the 2012-2013 season. Following the Bears’ early exit in the first round of the playoffs against the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, many fans are wondering what the Hershey Bears’ roster will look like come next fall. Two of the Washington Capitals impending restricted free agents played in Hershey this season and will most likely begin next season with the Bears’ as well. Both are key players that often go unnoticed, because they don’t make the flashy play or exciting play. Those players are center Mike Carman and defenseman Kevin Marshall. Take a look below and find out whether or not they have a good chance of returning to “Chocolate Town” next fall.

Center, Mike Carman: Mike Carman came over from the Lake Erie Monsters, the minor league affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche midway through the 2012 season and quickly find his role as a third line center. He gained time on the penalty kill with another first year bear, Garrett Mitchell. He compiled seven goals and five assists with Hershey, adding to the six points he registered in Lake Erie. Those eighteen points were a career high for Carman, one more than his previous total last year of 17 with the Monsters. Carman held a cap hit of $855,000 according to capgeek.com and figures to get a raise, especially with a possible qualifying offer coming from the Capitals.

New Contract: Expect a qualifying offer for Carman for a one year deal, ranging in the one million dollar spectrum. The Capitals would like to see if he can develop any sense of scoring ability, before making future plans with him. With penalty killers such as Jay Beagle and Matt Hendricks in Washington, Carman will most likely be spending his time in chocolate town this upcoming season.

Defenseman, Kevin Marshall: Marshall came over from the Philadelphia Flyers midway through the year in a surprising trade from Philadelphia’s standpoint. Marshall was sent to the Capitals organization in exchange for former Bears forward Matthew Ford. Marshall is a physical defenseman who provides good checking and avoids a lot of mistakes, but doesn’t have much to offer offensively. He totaled only six points this season, compared to 14 the previous year. He is a key player for the Bears, because Hershey has a surplus of offensively talented defenseman in Tomas Kundratek, Patrick McNeil and Cameron Schilling. I would expect Marshall to be paired with Schilling next season and earn more time on the penalty kill. Marshall’s cap hit was $845,833 last year according to capgeek.com. Expect the Capitals to reach a multiyear contract heading into the 2012-2013 season.

New Contract: I expect a two year contract for Marshall around 1-1.5 million annually. He provides a great defensive presence for the Capitals organization and could be competing in Washington’s training camp for a spot on their NHL roster.

I will be dissecting the Hershey Bears’ unrestricted free agents as the AHL and NHL playoffs wind down. You can follow me on twitter @pasportexaminer or email me at mspeck21@yahoo.com

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