Peter LeBlanc and Casey Wellman were two players acquired to give the Bears some much-needed scoring help. Both played in the Western Conference last season, so not too many knew what the two were about. Wellman, however, finished the 2011-12 season in Connecticut, and we were able to see what he could do.
As for LeBlanc, there weren’t many who were familiar with what his game was like.
The questions were certainly answered after January 31, when both came to Hershey.
Wellman clicked at nearly a point-per-game, with 31 points (9-22-31) in 33 games. LeBlanc’s performance wasn’t too shabby at all either, as he posted (8-10-18) in 33. But then he went on to rack up eight assists in the five-game Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against Providence, which was enough to lead the Chocolate and White in playoff scoring.
Wellman was signed to a two-year deal by the Capitals on March 28 – a well-deserved contract extension for a guy who has unceremoniously been dealt around several times.
Yesterday, the other part of the January 31 acquisition duo was signed.
LeBlanc had to be tendered a qualifying offer after he became a restricted free agent at the end of the 2012-13 season. Just eight days passed before LeBlanc was then signed to his deal.
So many people have asked how both of these players struggled to put up points prior to coming to Hershey. After all, coming to a team with offensive talent such as Jeff Taffe, Joey Crabb and Ryan Potulny doesn’t exactly put a player in the best position to improve his numbers. Wellman was never able to get into a groove with his other teams, and LeBlanc was playing fourth-line minutes on a lockout-overloaded Rockford roster. Both took the challenge of playing in Hershey and ran (skated) with it.
The center position was packed here last season (Potulny, Taffe, Carman, Kalinski, and Zach Hamill before LeBlanc arrived). Potulny has taken his talents overseas; Carman and Kalinski have not yet been extended offers to return; and Hamill was the other part of the Wellman acquisition. The Bears did sign Jamie Johnson, but he can play center or wing. I would expect LeBlanc to work himself up to perhaps second-line center this season, a spot at which I believe he could excel.
Here is the official release on LeBlanc’s return. It’s great to have Petey back for another season.