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 in the top menu or right here.)
Gersich, 25, 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 has since signed a series of one-year extensions. He signed a one-year, two way contract with the Capitals on May 20, 2019 and signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Capitals on Oct. 14, 2020. He last signed an additional one-year two-way contract ($750,000/$187,500) on June 19, 2021. Gersich is an unrestricted free agent (G6) this off-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 (Minnesota Wild), 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 deal, 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.
The 2021-22 season started slow for Gersich, but he eventually found his game before the holidays. He would ultimately have a career year in goals (14), assists (20) and total points (34). He has become a pretty good puck battler and his play along the boards continued to improve during his 2021-22 season. He shot the puck 152 times for a 9.2% shooting percentage.
2021-2022 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following is a compilation of our month-by-month prospect reports for Shane Gersich during the 2021-2022 season. You can find all of our monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
Gersich was possibly the biggest disappointment for Hershey through one month of the season. Gersich has developed into a reliable two-way player the past few years, but has struggled at five-on-five in his own end. This struggle could be due to his shifting back to center. The Chaska, Minnesota native has played mostly on the left wing the past few seasons and has been solid in that spot. Playing at center brings different responsibilities, defensively, and different matchups. If Gersich’s struggles continue, a move back to the wing may be needed to get him going. The one bright spot in Gersich’s game has been his penalty killing. He is a reliable asset on the penalty kill and still contributes in that area.
The good news is Gersich has started to contribute offensively after registering just a single assist in October. The move back to the wing has helped him to find his offensive game. He recorded primary assists on November 7 against Springfield and on November 14 versus Charlotte. The North Dakota product finally netted his first goal of the season on November 20 with an early second period marker.
Shane Gersich with his first goal of the season, cuts the Wolf Pack lead to 2-1. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/3dQrQZcDV4
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) November 21, 2021
Gersich added an assist in the same contest. His second goal of the season gave the Bears a lead early in the third period against Providence on November 24.
Shane Gersich gives the Bears their first lead of the game. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/u4tJv5Q4Gp
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) November 25, 2021
For the month, Gersich posted two goals and three assists to run his season total to six points. The move back to right wing improved Gersich’s defensive game early in the month, but like most, he had his ups and downs in his own end during November. The final game of the month was especially tough for Gersich, as he was on the ice for all three of Rochester’s even strength goals. Gersich remains a tough-puck battler by using his speed to close gaps between he and the puck. He also continues to step-up the physical side of his game. He figures to be a bottom-six forward prospect for the Capitals, the only question, where would he fit?
After a slow start, Gersich is finding his game, winning battles along the boards and is mucking and grinding with success. The North Dakota product amassed four points in the month, one more than his total in the season’s first two months, combined.
Gersich recorded the primary assist on Matt Moulson’s third period goal at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on December 14. He fed the puck from behind the net and Moulson one-timed the feed home.
Gersich potted his lone goal of the month on December 18, when his last-minute shorthanded goal finished off an 8-3 Hershey win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Shane Gersich with a shorty gives the Bears the 8-3 lead. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/GyjG5K94wX
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) December 19, 2021
Gersich’s best game of the season came in the last game of the month. The strengths of his game were highlighted throughout. His line was on the ice for four Hershey goals and he dished out two assists. Gersich’s work ethic was on display on Dylan McIlrath’s third period goal. He harassed a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defender enough to force him into a bad pass. After he took an errant shot, he hustled to the right boards and was the recipient of a big hit. Gersich got right up and won a puck battle. He pushed a pass back to McIlrath, who fired his shot into the net.
For the season, Gersich has three goals and eight assists in 24 games played. He’s shot the puck 36 times for a 8.3% shooting percentage.
Gersich found his goal scoring touch in January. Entering the month with three markers, the North Dakota product potted eight goals to kick start his 2022. He recorded his first multi-goal game of the season against Bridgeport on January 2. The Chaska, Minnesota native opened the scoring in the first period when he put home a rebound from a Drake Rymsha shot.
Shane Gersich with his 4th of the season. Bears lead 1-0. #ALLCAPS #HBH pic.twitter.com/zVRgIftnUE
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) January 2, 2022
Gersich then decided the game in overtime. He stole the puck just inside the defensive blue line and chipped the puck ahead. Gersich broke into the offensive end and slid his shot through the five-hole of Bridgeport goalie Ken Appleby for the winning score.
Shane Gersich drops the hammer! Nice steal and finish. Bears win 3-2 in OT. #ALLCAPS #HBH pic.twitter.com/CGrU1uAUt1
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) January 2, 2022
He registered another two-goal game six days later and tallied the game-winning goal once again. Gersich opened the scoring in the first period with a wrist shot that beat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goalie Alex D’Orio.
Shane Gersich continues his hot streak. Bears lead 1-0. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/VScKzYwWKC
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) January 9, 2022
Gersich then sealed the victory when he knocked home his own rebound in the third period.
Shane Gersich does it again! Two goals in this game. Bears lead 3-0, late. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/HztFeeu6BW
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) January 9, 2022
Gersich would score yet again on December 12 against the Bridgeport Islanders. This time it was shorthanded, his second shorty of the season.
Shane Gersich is on fire! This time another shorty, his second of the season. 9th goal of the seaqson. Bears lead 1-0. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/YkVo4wWiJ3
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) January 13, 2022
Gersich also added three assists in the January. The Minnesotan was a constant presence in the Hershey lineup, playing in all 13 games in the month. He has 11 goals and 11 points on the season and is fifth on the team in scoring.
Through the first four months of the season, Gersich had 26 penalty minutes, but accumulated 22 penalty minutes in February. Gersich is a valuable penalty killer and the Bears need him on the ice and not in the penalty box. Gersich’s offense dropped off in the month as well.
The North Dakota product failed to score a goal in February and finished with three assists for the month. Those three points came in back-to-back games. He recorded the primary assist on Mason Morelli’s game-tying goal against Belleville on February 12 and also had a helper on Marcus Vela’s second period tally. With the injuries Hershey has up front, the team needs more from Gersich. He needs to stay out of the penalty box and pick up his game.
Gersich played in all 12 games in March and saw time at both left wing and center. The North Dakota product ended a 22-game goalless drought when he knocked home a feed from Mike Vecchione on the back door in the first period versus Lehigh Valley on March 23.
Shane Gersich (12) ties the game. Nice breakout by Brett Leason and feed from Mike Vecchione to Gersich for the score. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/kdRfDurJ58
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) March 23, 2022
The native of Chaska, Minnesota also dished out three assists during the month. Gersich ranks fifth on the Hershey scoring list with 29 points, but 11 of those points came in January. He has seven points in the past two months. If the Bears were healthy, that would not be an issue. However, with the team’s injury problems, Hershey needs a little more offense out of Gersich.
The biggest issue for him has been converting his chances. He fired off 32 shots in March, but only converted on one of those chances for a .03 shooting percentage. That simply is not good enough.
The Minnesotan is a quality penalty killer and contributes in that aspect of the game. Gersich has played in 61 of Hershey’s 63 games this season, tied for the most on the team.
Gersich was a steady presence in the Hershey lineup up until he was injured blocking a shot at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on April 19. He missed the final three games of the regular season. Gersich played in 71 games for the Bears this season, the most among Hershey forwards and the second most on the team.
Gersich posted two goals and three assists in April. His second period tally on April 9 was the game winner in a 5-2 victory over the Springfield Thunderbirds.
Shane Gersich with a great effort, Garrett Pilon finishes to give the Bears a 3-1 lead late in the second period. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/ltQk8wvOLh
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) April 10, 2022
Gersich came back on the next night and recorded his first multi-point game since February 12 against those same Thunderbirds. He opened the scoring 36 seconds into the game when he redirected a Cody Franson shot home. Gersich then set up Mason Morelli’s game-winning goal in overtime with a drop pass.
Shane Gersich with a nice redirect for his 14th of the season. Bears lead 1-0 just 36 seconds into the game. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/A810kdS2oy
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) April 10, 2022
The Minnesotan has set career highs in goals (14), assists (20) and points (34) this season. Gersich is a solid penalty killer and improved on faceoffs as the season went along.
As previously noted, the 2021-22 season started slow for Gersich, but he eventually found his game before the holidays. He would ultimately have a career year in goals (14), assists (20) and total points (34). He has become a pretty good puck battler and his play along the boards continued to improve during his 2021-22 season.
Gersich has been a valuable asset for the Bears during his time in Hershey, however his time may be coming to an end. The decision to re-sign with the Capitals or move on, like friends Riley Barber, Travis Boyd and Liam O’Brien, is up to Gersich. If he feels there is a better opportunity for him with another team, it’s likely he moves on. However, considering Gersich’s steady improvement and career year, offensively, this past season, the Capitals will likely try to encourage him to stay.
By Jon Sorensen
The Evolution of Shane Gersich
Shane Gersich, Eric Florchuk and Connor McMichael Record Hat Tricks: Week 20 Capitals Prospect Report
Hershey Bears’ Shane Gersich Records First Hat Trick Of The Season In 4-1 Win Over Sound Tigers
Capitals Sign Shane Gersich To One-Year, Two-Way Contract Worth $700,000
Bears Beat Belleville 3-1; Shane Gersich Scores 7th Goal Of The Season
Bears Mash Monsters 6-1; Shane Gersich Scores A Pair
Bears Fall To Checkers 4-3 (SO): Brian Pinho, Shane Gersich Score First AHL Goals
Shane Gersich Scores Two in Da Beauty League Game
6 Plays That Stood Out In Shane Gersich’s NHL Debut
Capitals Rally to Beat Rangers 3-2 (OT); Braden Holtby Returns, Shane Gersich Makes NHL Debut
Capitals Sign Shane Gersich
Shane Gersich Trying To Find His Way In His Junior Year
Update on Capitals Prospect Shane Gersich and the University of North Dakota
Meet the prospect: Shane Gersich – He is on Fire!
Capitals Prospect Shane Gersich Dazzles with Spin’o’rama Overtime Goal
Gersich and Jonsson-Fjallby Score in Hershey Debuts
Hope Gersich sticks around, but hard to see a position for him in Washington. I’m sure he’s looking for a potential NHL opportunity.
I remember when he signed I thought this guy will be a 3rd liner… never happened.
Like his friends who have left there isnt much room for him in Wash. I would love to see him stay another 2 years, 1 in Hershey and then make Wash as a good 4th liner. But then Like Riley and Travis he probably wants to pla NOW and thats not going to happen in Wash unless he ewsigns and has a fantastic camp. Riley who I also liked left and has done nothing in Montreal or Detroit. Travis did about the same in Toronto as he did here, not much in Vancouver but reallybroke out last year in Arizona. Liam never really got a shot here and didnt do bad in Arizona this past year. So for Shane a lot will depend on how he views himself and if he wants to take a shot at being here on the 4th line or elsewhere. Hopehe resigns here and waits a year and improves if not good luck young man!
Gersich is a 4th liner and we have plenty of those with AJF, Malenstyn, Hags, and ultimately younger prospects who will come up. His time with the Caps is done even though we may try to keep him. We will likely see him play in the NHL, but his time won’t be with the Caps.