Next up in our annual prospect review and forecast series is Shane Gersich, forward for the Hershey Bears. (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page right here.)
Gersich, 23, is a 5’11” forward from Chaska, Minnesota. He 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. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2019-2020 season.
Gersich’s collegiate career statistically peaked 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, ultimately riding that opportunity with the team to the Stanley Cup.
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.)
Like most Bears rookies, Shane’s 2018-2019 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, and Gersich’s shooting percentage dropped. 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.
The 2019-2020 season was somewhat of a transition season for Gersich, as he evolved into a slightly different role, one focused more on driving his line and less on scoring. To his credit, he embraced the new role, and improved most of the season. He finished the season with 10 goals and 18 assists in just 54 games. He also greatly improved his shooting percentage, finishing at 13.2%, up from 6.4% during his rookie campaign. He also recorded his first career hat trick.
2019-2020 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following month-by-month breakdown is an aggregation of our monthly prospect reports prepared during the 2019-2020 season. You can find all of our weekly and monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
Gersich remains a bit of an offensive enigma. He creates scoring opportunities with his speed, but continues to be unable to bury his chances. On Opening Night against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, he had three shots on goal, but also missed the net on three other opportunities. The North Dakota product’s shot still is not good enough. Gersich does contribute on the penalty kill and is a smart player in his own end. The Chaska, Minnesota native was touted as an offensive player when he turned pro, but his game is more suited for a bottom-six role. Gersich has been a little banged up and has missed three games.
Trending – Down
Gersich scored his first goal of the season, a shorthanded tally, against Providence on November 2 and added an assist in the same game. He then went on an eight-game, scoreless drought. The Chaska, Minnesota native broke the drought with another two-point game versus Providence. He netted his second goal of the season in that game, which was also his second shorthanded goal of the campaign. On the season, he has two goals and five assists. Gersich has played well on the penalty kill and his own zone. Against Providence on November 27, he hustled back and broke up a scoring chance with his stick on the back check.
Gersich started the month off by scoring his first even-strength goal of the season, roofing a shot over Hartford goalie Adam Huska in the second period on December 1. The North Dakota product played in the next three games, but suffered an injury against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on December 8. The injury would cause Gersich to miss the next five games. He returned on December 28 and played in the final two games of 2019 for Hershey. The injury came at a bad time for Gersich, as he was establishing himself as a solid defensive forward. He still leads the Bears with two shorthanded goals. For the season, Gersich has three goals and five assists in 25 game played. Two of his three goals were shorthanded. Gersich has shot the puck 32 times for a shooting percentage on 9.4% on the season.
After tallying one goal in December, Gersich put home three goals in January. The Chaska, Minnesota native roofed a shot off a great pass from Joe Snively with 49.5 seconds remaining to give the Bears a 2-1 victory over Bridgeport on January 4. The North Dakota product has six goals on the season and is on pace to surpass his total of eight from last season. Gersich’s shooting accuracy is better than last season. His shooting percentage is at 10.4% after posting a 6.4% last season. The second year forward continues to be a good two-way player. He sees a lot of time on the penalty kill and is a big contributor on that unit. Gersich made a great steal on a kill against Rochester on January 19 that led to a shorthanded breakaway. He did not score on the play, but his steal creating a scoring opportunity.
After potting six goals in January, Gersich slowed down in February. He netted a single goal in the month and added one assist for two points in February. Earlier in the season, the North Dakota product saw time on the top lines. However, Gersich now finds himself in a bottom six role and likely will remain there the rest of the season. He can still make an impact there because players like Pilon, Pinho, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby and Beck Malenstyn will be there and all of them are impact players. Saying that, Gersich needs to produce more.
Shane’s speed will always be his greatest asset, but he’s working on and showing signs of development in areas he needs to improve upon. His shot accuracy improvement alone is something that should be recognized. His passing and stick-handling continue to improve as his time in the AHL progresses, but for him, it needs to translate to the scoresheet. On the other end of the ice, the winger is a responsible player and makes good decisions in his own zone. He receives time on the penalty kill unit because of that
Gerisich has been an interesting watch this season. After signing just a one-year extension last summer, it was clear the Capitals wanted to see more from Shane, and soon. It was also clear he needed to adjust his game and role on the team, and he did just that. The question will be, do the Capitals extend him? It’s very likely they do, after seeing his effort and ability to adapt this season. Look for a one-year extension, another year in Hershey with the goal of continuing his development towards a third line spot on the Capitals in the next two years.
The Evolution of Shane Gersich
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By Jon Sorensen