Shane Gersich has taken his game to another level since his North Dakota days. Now, he’s hoping to translate that hard work to a bigger role with the Washington Capitals organization.
Following an impressive three years playing NCAA hockey with the Fighting Hawks, Gersich joined the Capitals for three final regular-season games in 2017-18, registering one assist. He also stayed on for the team’s Stanley Cup run, playing in two games.
Over the last three seasons, the 25-year-old has continued his development in the AHL with the Hershey Bears. In 66 games in his rookie campaign, he had 24 points in 66 games and went on to post three points in nine playoff games. He followed up in 2019-20 with 10 goals and 18 points in 54 games. Last season,, Hershey awarded Gersich with the “A.” He dished six goals and 14 points in 33 games, and ultimately earned a one-year, two-way extension with the Capitals.
Taking a look at his overall play and improvement, he could surprise come training camp, especially if he carries over his play from this offseason.
Right now, he’s making the most of his summer, spending a majority of it on the ice in Da Beauty League. Through just seven games, he leads all DBL skaters in assists (14) and ranks fourth in points (18). He’s also showcasing his overall skill-set with strong skating, a wicked shot and good passing and stickhandling while playing with fellow NHLers.
Shane Gersich launches a ROCKET upstairs 🚨🚀
🍎 from K’Andre Miller
— Da Beauty League (@DaBeautyLeague) August 12, 2021
While Gersich is no stranger to professional hockey or Da Beauty League for that matter, it’s still important to note his performance. He’s evolved his game over time, not only becoming more confident but also improving his two-way play and ability on the forecheck.
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Right now, Washington has very limited cap space and only 12 forwards currently on the roster. The Capitals faced several injuries last season, and also had some players on the COVID-19 list. That, of course, spoke to the importance of depth, so a 13th forward is likely.
Gersich has an advantage of sorts. The 5-11, 180-pound forward can play either center or wing, and he’s been a major part of the Bears’ penalty kill, which was the eighth-best in the AHL last season. His shooting has also gotten much better, as he posted the best shooting percentage of his AHL career last season (13.3 percent). Additionally, in the neutral zone and in his own end, Gersich makes smart decisions, doesn’t shy away from puck battles and is strong on the backcheck.
Without a doubt, the road ahead won’t be easy. Connor McMichael’s the likely frontrunner for a roster spot, and Brian Pinho, Michael Sgarbossa, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby and even Beck Malenstyn will be fierce competition. Right now, he’s not a major point contributor, but he’s a utility player who can fit in anywhere and take on multiple roles.
In the end, though, despite everything, the time is now for Gersich to make noise and work toward earning a spot on the opening night roster.