The Hershey Bears have their final chance to become 2023 Calder Cup champions on Wednesday in Southern California. The Bears and the Coachella Valley Firebirds have seen their Finals series go the distance and will finally decide things once and for all in Game Seven.
Given how late they’ve played into what is normally the pro hockey offseason, important summer dates are right around the corner despite the Calder Cup not even being lifted yet. In fact, several major contributors on this Bears team will be without a contract for next season in just 10 days.
Here’s the full list of Bears players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents in less than two weeks:
A large portion of the names on the list have contributed majorly to Hershey’s deep 2022-23 run.
Pilon scored the overtime-winner for the Bears in Game Five against the Firebirds to give Hershey a 3-2 series lead, Gersich achieved a similar feat with his game-winning goal that sent the Bears to the Calder Cup Finals, Morelli is tied for the team lead in goals in the playoffs, Anas has 12 points in 19 playoff games, McIlrath is the club’s captain, Day is currently the team’s leading postseason scorer with 14 points, and Shepard has backstopped every single game in the playoffs.
Fucale’s next destination is already known as the KHL’s Traktor Chelyabinsk plans to sign the 28-year-old netminder once he is free from his Hershey duties. Pilon is a Group 6 UFA as he is 25 years old, completed three or more professional seasons, has an expiring contract, and has played fewer than 80 NHL Games.
There’s a shorter list of Bears that will be restricted free agents which will require some sort of action from the Capitals.
Borgstrom was also an overtime hero earlier in the playoffs, Sutter has been part of the Bears’ ultra-successful fourth line, and Carlsson has played in every single game on the team’s first defense pairing.
“You look at any championship team, you have depth and everyone’s producing, and you’re seeing that from this team,” Mike Vecchione said earlier in the postseason. “Everyone’s just going out there, playing for each other and everyone’s getting rewarded. It’s kind of been like that throughout the season, too, where if one line’s not going another line’s going to pick us up. Everyone just sticks together in that locker room; it’s been such a great brotherhood in there and that’s why we’re having so much fun.”
Wednesday night’s Game Seven could be the last time many of these names pull on a Bears sweater. They could make it the best last game ever with a win.
Headline photo: Tori Hartman/Hershey Bears
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