We continue our break-down of the last 12 months for each of the Washington Capitals prospects with a review and forecast for forward/left winger, Shane Gersich. (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page right here.)
Gersich, (22) signed his entry-level contract on March 23rd, 2018 and reported to the Capitals the following day. His contract was for two years at $925,000 AAV, with the remainder of the 2018 season counting on the contract. Gersich signed a one-year, two way contract with the Capitals on May 20, 2019.
Gersich’s collegiate career statistically peaked in his Sophomore year in the 2016-2017 season, where he spent most of the season on a high-powered line that included Brock Boeser (Vancouver Canucks) and Tyson Jost (Colorado Avalanche), both currently playing in the NHL. Gersich Scored 21 goals and registered 16 assists in 40 games his Sophomore season.
Gersich had a relatively slow start to his Junior year at North Dakota, which ultimately saw him drop to the bottom six by the middle of the season. However, Gersich responded nicely, returning to the top line in early spring, and he never looked back. Gersich tallied 13 goals and 16 assists in 40 games played in the 2017-2018 season.
Gersich noted in an interview just after joining the Capitals that the team offered him the opportunity to immediately join the team, as a condition of his entry-level contract, which he did.
Gersich saw action in three NHL games at the conclusion of the regular season, making his NHL debut against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 23rd. Albeit a small sample size, Gersich did give Caps fans a quick glimpse at his speed and abilities on the ice. (Checkout our analysis of his first NHL game right here.)
2018-2019 SEASON SUMMARY
Like most Bears rookies, Shane’s season started very quietly, as he began to adapt to the AHL game. Unfortunately, he never really did catch fire. There were moments where his speed was evident, as he demonstrated how it could be a game-changer. Early in the season, it was clear that several teams began taking penalties when Gersich entered the offensive zone at full speed, simply grabbing him or his stick, choosing a two-minute penalty over a high-speed Gersich. But those type of penalties subsided as the season progressed.
Later in the season, it appeared Gersich was attempting to step-up his physical play and grit along the boards, which at times seemed out of place for a player of his skill set. It also brought-up that age-old feeling that Gersich might be better suited at Center. Something that appears to have been put to bed a long time ago.
In the end, the scoring really never showed up, as his finishes and shots seemed to fall short or to the side. Eight goals and 16 assists in 66 games isn’t bad by any means, but it would be nice to see much more. It took Gersich 125 shots to score eight goals. That is a shooting percentage of just 6.4. By comparison, Nathan Walker took 126 shots, but scored 17 goals for a 13.5 shooting percentage.
On the other end of the ice, the rookie winger was a responsible player and made good decisions in his own zone. He received time on the penalty kill unit because of that. His +5 was highest among Hershey forwards. Gersich scored a goal and added two assists in nine playoff games, but the Bears needed more from him.
Gersich’s passing and stick-handling did seem to improve as the season progressed, but for him, it needs to translate to the scoresheet.
2018-2019 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following month-by-month breakdown is an aggregation of our monthly prospect reports prepared during the 2018-2019 season. You can find all of our monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
Washington sent Gersich to Hershey to get the young forward top-six minutes. He has gotten that and has been playing on the top-line with Michael Sgarbossa and Riley Barber. Gersich has been getting a lot of shots (he has taken 28), but has only converted on one. He needs to improve on that and put in more of his chances. He did seal the win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on October 27 when he converted his shootout opportunity to give the Bears an insurmountable 2-0 lead in the shootout. Three of Gersich’s five points, including his only goal (here), have come on the power play. His even-strength play needs to improve. He was a minus-7 during a seven-game stretch from October 12 to October 26. The Minnesota native should get better as the season progress. Gersich is still learning the professional game and there is a learning curve. His talent is evident and his speed is undeniable. He just needs to find consistency.
offensive numbers in November are identical to his numbers from October. He posted one goal and four assists in October and has one goal and four assists again this month. While there’s a consistency there, the Bears need more goals from him (and a lot of other players). He has warmed up a little in his last five games, scoring a goal and adding three assists in that time. Both of the Chaska, Minnesota native’s goals have come on the power play and half of his eight assists have come on the man-advantage. He needs to score more at even strength and he needs to convert more of his shots. He has taken 46 shots, the third-most on the team, but only has two goals. A 4.3 shooting percentage is not very good. Gersich has been a plus player in three of his last five games after being a minus-7 on the season prior to that stretch.
Gersich missed most of the month due to injury. He skated in Hershey’s first three games of the month, tallying one goal. He has not seen the ice since December 7.
After missing most of December with an injury, Gersich returned to the Hershey lineup against Grand Rapids on January 5. He made an immediate impact by scoring the third goal for the Bears in a 6-4 win. He only tallied one more goal in the month, but his return gave Hershey a needed infusion of speed and made the team deeper up front. The Bears need more offense from him going forward, but his return has been a plus for the team. Early in the season, Gersich struggled in his own zone, but he has improved in that area.
Gersich’s offense remains a work in progress, but the rookie winger brings an element of speed to Hershey. He may be the fastest skater on the team. The University of North Dakota product is a threat to score on a breakaway on every shift. He just needs to be a little more accurate with his shot. He potted one goal and assisted on three others in February. That is an increase of one point from his production in January. He played on the top-line with Barber and Sgarbossa in the last game of the month. If he remains on that line, he will have plenty of chances to put up points.
Offensively, Gersich is still trying to find his touch. He put up three assists in March and has not scored a goal in 23 games. Still, he is a threat every time he steps on the ice due to his game-changing speed. Sooner or later that speed is going to translate into some offense. Like Beck Malenstyn, Gersich has found ways to contribute even though he is not scoring. He was not a minus player in any of his 13 games in March and ended the month with a plus-5 rating. In addition to the above, he also contributes on the penalty kill.
Gersich needs to make this one-year contract count on the scoresheet. The other parts of his game are NHL or near-NHL caliber. He simply needs to finish. 20 goals would be a good goal for the upcoming season. We may be a bit demanding of a 5th round draft pick, but that’s only because you get the honest feeling he’s got “it” inside him.
Gersich will likely spend next season in Hershey, but if he gets hot, don’t rule out a callup at some point during the season.
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By Jon Sorensen