It’s beginning to feel like an arms race between the Syracuse Crunch and Hershey Bears.
After the Crunch opened up free agency with a barrage of signings, the Washington Capitals have gone out and inked three players that will help the Hershey Bears compete in the tough Eastern Conference.
It was announced today that the Caps had come to terms with goaltender David Leggio, defenceman Tyson Strachan, and forward Matt Watkins. All three players are expected to start the season in Hershey, and will spend most of 2012-13 with the Capitals farm club.
Leggio, 28, was one of the best goaltenders available to help bolster an AHL roster. The AHL free agency big board had Leggio ranked in the top ten, and he was the top goaltender available. By signing with Washington, it signals the end of a two year stay in Rochester where he played 123 games with the Amerks. It was in Rochester last season that Leggio put up career numbers, with a 2.56 GAA and .924 SV%.
Prior to landing with Rochester, Leggio had stays with the Portland Pirates and the ECHL’s Florida Everblades. In 2009-10, after he failed to make it out of the ECHL and up to the ‘A’, Leggio signed on in SM-Liiga with TPS, where he would help guide the team to an SM-Liiga championship, posting an insane 1.57 GAA and .942 SV% in 7 playoff appearances. The Buffalo, NY., native will battle for the starting position in Hershey, a spot that is likely his to lose.
Strachan, 6’3″, 225 lbs. native of Melfort, Sask., will come to the Bears after a stint in Florida last season. During the lockout, Strachan had the alternate captaincy for the Panthers farm club San Antonio Rampage, but when the NHL season began, Strachan found himself in the NHL. In 38 games with the Panthers last season, the 28-year-old had 4 assists and 40 PIM.
At the AHL level, Strachan is an intimidating force on the blue line that can move the puck and fill a top-three role for the Rampage defence. While he may see a few games in the NHL, Bears fans should look to see Strachan in the lineup for somewhere between 50-65 games this season.
Maybe the most unheralded of all three signings, Watkins, a 26-year-old from Aylesbury, Sask., is the kind of player that can help a team get to the next level. Last season, while a member of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Watkins took over the captaincy and added 11 goals and 19 assists. He may not be the most offensively gifted, but Watkins will still be good for a point or two every couple contests. Over his AHL career, the University of North Dakota product has amassed 49 goals and 74 assists in 253 games.