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, 24, 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. Gersich signed an additional one-year two-way contract ($750,000/$187,500) on June 19, 2021.
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 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 the age-old feeling that Gersich might be better suited at Center. Something that appears to have been put to bed a long time ago. Eight goals and 16 assists in 66 games isn’t bad by any means. It took Gersich 125 shots to score eight goals. That is a shooting percentage of just 6.4%.
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.
The 2020-21 season was another step forward for Gersich in his new role. He continued to improve his play along the boards and overall physical play. In the end, Gersich tallied six goals and eight assists in 33 games. He recorded just 45 shots for a shooting percentage of 13.3%, his highest shooting percentage in the AHL so far.
2020-2021 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following month-by-month breakdown is an aggregation of our monthly prospect reports prepared during the 2020-2021 season. You can find all of our weekly and monthly prospect reports and analysis on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
Gersich attended Capitals training camp, beginning on January 3. He was placed on waivers on January 11 as part of the Capitals’ roster-trimming necessary to meet the 23-player roster limit. He would clear waivers the following day and was re-assigned to the Hershey Bears. The Bears opened training camp on Saturday, January 23. The season began for the Bears on February 5 against the Binghamton Devils.
Gersich got off to a slow start offensively. He had just one assist in eight games, as his shot continues to be an issue. He created scoring chances with his speed, but too often missed the net or shoots right at the goalie. Despite his lack of scoring, Gersich still contributes in other ways. He is a key component of the Hershey penalty kill that is fourth in the AHL. He is not afraid to get down and block shots. He threw his body in front of a shot on the penalty kill at the end of the second period against Binghamton on February 27. Gersich has been excellent at attacking the puck on the backcheck, and creating turnovers. Gersich has also taken on more of a leadership role this season, having served as an alternate captain.
After posting a single point and going goalless in February, Gersich scored on his first shot in March. He roofed a shot over the blocker of Lehigh Valley goalie Felix Sandstrom in the second period on March 3.
Riley Sutter wins faceoff, dishes to Shane Gersich for his first goal of the season. Two primary assists for Sutter so far in this one. First multipoint game for Sutts. Game tied 1-1. #CapsProspect #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/ItEzrVejIb
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) March 4, 2021
The North Dakota product would add two more goals in the month. His second goal also came against Lehigh Valley. Gersich put in a rebound for a shorthanded tally for Hershey’s first goal of the game in the second period on March 24.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) March 25, 2021
Gersich also potted an empty net goal on March 28. In addition to his three goals, Gersich contributed a pair of assists in the month. The speedy winger plays in all situations and has picked up his overall game.
For the second consecutive month, Gersich found the back of the net three times. He has six goals on the season. His first goal of the month came against Binghamton on April 7. He took a feed from Riley Sutter and skated into the zone and ripped a shot from the left circle to give the Bears a 2-1 lead late in the first period.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) April 7, 2021
Gersich then tallied his second goal of the month on April 17, again against Binghamton, by converting from a nice setup by Alex Alexeyev.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) April 17, 2021
Gersich recorded his first multi-point game of the season versus Lehigh Valley on April 21. He deposited his own rebound for the opening goal of the game and then setup Brett Leason for a shorthanded goal in the third period.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) April 21, 2021
Gersich has six goals and four assists in 26 games played so for this season. He’s recorded 32 shots on the season for an 18.8% shooting percentage, his best rate so far with the Bears. He just needs to shoot more.
Gersich dished out four assists in May to bring his season assist total to eight. That equals the number of helpers Gersich had in 54 games last season. He posted his first two-point game of the season on May 8. Gersich was responsible for the primary assist on both Hershey goals in a 2-0 win over Lehigh Valley. In the season finale on May 16, the University of Minnesota product got into a scrap with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Kasper Bjorqvist in the second period. Gersich then kept the puck in the offensive end and picked up the lone assist of Eddie Wittchow’s well-executed goal in the third period. Gersich was one of Hershey’s best penalty killers and was consistently deployed in shorthanded situations. He finished the season with 14 points.
TRENDING – SAME
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. 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 the last two seasons. 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. He will spend at least one more season in Hershey with the goal of continuing his development towards a third or fourth line spot on the Capitals in 2022-23.
By Jon Sorensen
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