Much has been made lately about the breakout season that Caps prospect Shane Gersich is having. The University of North Dakota sophomore has been simply sensational. And while it may be true he’s playing with some of the most talented players in collegiate hockey, Gersich leads all of those players in a number of statistical categories – the best of the best, if you will. While the calendar may indicate there is time for the Caps to sign Gersich, in all reality, the hour is getting late.
Stats to date:
Gersich has made the proverbial “jump” this season. After 19 games, he has 14 goals and 11 assists for a very loud 1.32 points per game.
Rights and Signability:
As specified in the collective bargaining agreement, an NHL club will retain the rights of a drafted player for exclusive negotiation through August 15 following the graduation of his college class, provided he remains a college student through at least the start of his senior season.
Gersich, drafted by the Capitals in the 5th round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft (134th overall) will be eligible for free agency in 2018. Seems like plenty of time, right? Not so fast.
See Thomas DiPauli. DiPauli was drafted in 2012 by the Capitals and remained unsigned through his graduatarion from Norte Dame in the summer of 2016. DiPauli’s value rose late, catching the Caps in a bit of a pinch. The Capitals tried to sign DiPauli in the late goings, but by then it was too late. DiPauli had all the chips, and chose to play the field, and sign elsewhere. To add insult to injury, DiPauli would ultimately sign with the dark side, the Pittsburgh Penguins, on August 19th.
The general concept here is that Free Agency becomes more attactive (financially) to Gersich with each passing day. The incentive for him to sign now is that he could cool off, sustain an injury or lose appeal to other teams for some reason.
Of course, considering salary cap constraints, teams need to be frugal and extremely sure about signings. Players not realizing potential carry an extended penalty with regards to financial payout, so teams can be quite hesitant to pull the contractuall trigger.
The Caps are cap-strapped at this point in the year, and have big decisions to make on the near horizon regarding the resigning of key players. That’s why MacLellan gets paid the big bucks. However, Gersich’s development over the past year has proven to be enough for an entry level contract, and the Caps should lock him up as soon as possible.
Shane Gersich (2016-2017)
By Jon Sorensen