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From the Branches: Solar Bears address their lack of vets

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...By signing four players who total 1,481 professional games played.

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The Solar Bears just signed the fourth of their allowed veteran players, meaning that the rest of the roster has to be given to players who have played fewer than 260 professional games by the start of the season. According to the Solar Bears website, the last of these four veterans is Taylor Doherty -- but will he see any time with the Bears? He is a rare right-handed defenseman, and he's currently the only one on the Marlies roster.

Doherty was traded from Rapid City in the middle of the Bears' infamous Brampton road trip, for long-time Bears player Max Nicastro. Doherty remained in Toronto despite the transfer of his ECHL rights. Ask Species how then-president Jason Siegel felt about this trade -- he got to see the emotions in person.

According to the Bears website:

Doherty, 25, was originally acquired by the Solar Bears during the 2015-16 season on March 9 from the Rapid City Rush, where he had logged 24 points (8g-16a) and 32 penalty minutes in 56 games. That same day he also signed a Professional Try-Out Agreement with the Toronto Marlies, where he spent the remainder of the season, notching three assists and 20 penalty minutes in 12 games.

"Coming into the Toronto system near the end of last season was a big reason for me choosing to join the Solar Bears," Doherty said. "Being in Orlando is the perfect opportunity for me to continue my development as a hockey player. I’m extremely excited to play here and do what I can to help the team."

The other veterans who WILL remain in Orlando are Eric Baier (who has had the C twice in his time here), ECHL/AHL player Paul Crowder, who has seriously put in his time around the league, and defenseman Trevor Ludwig. Staring at Ludwig's accomplishments, I wonder whether he'll be given the Solar Bears C this coming year.

According to the excellent Don $:

"Orlando's four vets have the following number of pro games played: Ludwig, 430 pro games (180 ECHL), Baier, 338 (289 ECHL), Crowder, 411 (279 ECHL), Doherty, 302 (56 ECHL), for a total of 1,481 pro games combined."

This definitely addresses a concern that the Bears had heading out of last season, that the team was incredibly young and required more veterans who could teach them how to be professional players.

My favorite player whom I've never gotten to interview, Patrick Watling, is also returning to the Bears! I'm trying my best to hunt down this statistics-loving player for an interview (he played for the Soo while Kyle Dubas was GM), so heeeeey Watling, contact me, ok? We wanna hear about your life with Dubas, and why you like advanced stats so much.

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