Tom Gilbert has signed with the Nurnberg Ice Tigers of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga or the German Ice Hockey League. Elite Prospects made the announcement today via their Twitter account, EP Transfers. Former Bear Chris Brown also recently decided to take his game to the DEL, signing with the Iserlohn Roosters.
Tom Gilbert arrived in Hershey, not with a chip on his shoulder about being sent to the AHL after a lengthy career in the NHL but, with a huge smile on his face and a willingness to assist Hershey’s young defensemen that brought to mind Scott Gomez’s brief stint with the Bears last season.
Gilbert, who was originally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the 4th round (#129 overall) in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, started out his pro career in 2006-2007 with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL and the Edmonton Oilers. Either Hershey fans forgot he was with the dreaded in-state rival or they forgave him pretty quickly.
Gilbert then spent four more full seasons with the Oilers before being dealt to Minnesota midway through the 2011-2012 season. He spent the following year with the Wild before heading to Florida for a season. After the Panthers, he played with the Montréal Canadiens for two seasons before an abbreviated season with the Los Angeles Kings.
All told, Gilbert has played in 655 regular season NHL games with an additional 17 playoff games. Over that time, he’s recorded a total of 47 goals (two in the playoffs with Montreal) and 181 assists (three of those came in the 2014-2015 playoffs with Montreal).
Upon his arrival in Hershey, he stated in an interview (full article here) that he was just happy to be playing hockey – it didn’t really matter where. He took the time to fully answer every question, not just a brief one or two-word answer, and probably held up the bus to Binghamton a bit. It speaks volumes to Gilbert’s character. Something else that speaks volumes to his character – his willingness to make the young d-men in Hershey better. In countless post-game pressers and interviews, Gilbert’s name was mentioned. He was there for 25 regular season games and the playoffs. For a guy to make that kind of impact in such a short time, well, that’s just special.
Hershey would have definitely loved to have Gilbert back, but the AHL’s Veteran Rule more than likely prevented him from staying in Hershey. As previously posted in “Veteran and Waiver Status Will Play Role in 2017-2018 for Bears” Hershey can only have five veterans and one veteran exempt player on the ice each game. With Chris Bourque, Garrett Mitchell, Zach Sill, and Aaron Ness possibly taking four of the five spots, not to mention any of the recent Caps signees, keeping Gilbert looked to be a long shot.
Gilbert’s signing leaves just four Hershey players from last year’s team still unsigned: Ryan Bourque, Cody Corbett, Joey Leach, and Christian Thomas.
— EP Transfers (@ep_transfers) July 21, 2017
By Julie Beidler