The 2023 Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears could see a lot of upheaval heading into the first day of free agency on Saturday as half of their roster needs new deals.
The team announced their first extensions on Friday since raising the Calder Cup last week. The Bears re-signed forward Julian Napravnik and defenseman Michael Kim to one-year AHL contracts — two less heralded players that could play bigger roles next season.
Welcome back Nappy and Kimmer! 🏆
We're re-signed forward Julian Napravnik and defenseman Michael Kim to AHL deals for the 2023-24 season.
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) June 30, 2023
The 26-year-old Napravnik played in 18 games during his rookie campaign with Hershey and showed some offensive pop during his limited appearances in the lineup. The German born right wing had an impressive five-game point streak (4g, 2a) from March 15 through April 8, skating in the middle six of the lineup.
Julian Napravnik has ✨Main Character Energy✨
🍏 Rybinski pic.twitter.com/l9bcboT8cp
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) March 16, 2023
Napravnik scored his first AHL goal on November 20, 2022 against the Hartford Wolf Pack.
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) November 20, 2022
Napravnik first signed an amateur try out with the Bears late in the 2022 season after tying for third in NCAA scoring at Minnesota State.
Kim, 27, made his debut for the Bears on December 11, 2022 against the Cleveland Monsters and played in two games total, notching an assist in both games. He did his biggest damage with ECHL South Carolina, leading all Stingrays defensemen in points with 40 (9g, 31a) in 53 games.
Around the same time of Napravnik and Kim’s deals, the Capitals announced that they extended qualifying offers to the Bears’ Riley Sutter and Henrik Borgstrom (Borgstrom is headed to Sweden) and non-tendered Kody Clark and Gabriel Carlsson, making them unrestricted free agents. Carlsson, part of the team’s first pairing on defense, would be considered a veteran in the AHL next season, prompting the Capitals to move on.
Here’s the full press release from the Bears:
BEARS RE-SIGN JULIAN NAPRAVNIK AND MICHAEL KIM TO AHL DEALS
Pair of players set to return to Calder Cup Champions for 2023-24 campaign
(Hershey, PA – June 30, 2023) – The Hershey Bears announced today that the club has re-signed forward Julian Napravnik and defenseman Michael Kim to one-year, American Hockey League contracts for the 2023-24 season.
Napravnik, 26, skated in 18 games in his rookie campaign with Hershey, striking for seven points (5g, 2a). He scored his first AHL goal on Nov. 20, 2022 versus Hartford, and rattled off a five-game point streak (4g, 2a) from Mar. 15-Apr. 8, 2023.
The native of Bad Nauheim, Germany joined Hershey late in the 2021-22 season, skating in four games, after finishing his NCAA career at Minnesota State University. During his senior year, he finished tied for third in the NCAA in scoring, registering 49 points (18g, 31a) in 38 games for the Mavericks.
Kim, 27, skated in two games with Hershey this season, posting an assist in each contest. He made his debut with the Chocolate and White on Dec. 11, 2022 versus Cleveland. With Hershey’s ECHL affiliate, the South Carolina Stingrays, Kim led the club in defensive scoring with 40 points (9g, 31a) in 53 games.
The former Boston College standout has played in 51 career AHL games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Springfield, and Hershey, compiling 12 assists.
Photos: Katie Fri / Hershey Bears
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