The Maryland Black Bears made a move less than a week before the NAHL Draft by trading Jude Kurtas and Grady Friedman to the Corpus Christi IceRays for a Tender contract, a 5th round pick in the 2021 NAHL Draft, and Conditional 2022 NAHL Draft Pick. The duo of Kurtas and Friedman connected on one of the biggest goals in Black Bears’ history with the series-winning goal against Johnstown in the playoffs.
A homegrown talent coming up through the Mercer Chiefs system, Kurtas played 97 regular season games for the Black Bears, putting him fourth on the Black Bears career list, while he is tied for third for career goals on the team with 17 and tied for second in franchise history with four game-winning goals. Friedman came to the Black Bears after time at Northfield Mount Hermon Prep School and put up five goals and nine points in his season. Friedman wasn’t afraid to mix it up, trying to play the role of energy guy for the Black Bears.
While it’s tough to lose the veteran presence these two over-aged players would have brought to this coming season; it remains to be seen what will come from the tender contract and the draft pick. The Black Bears have had some success with later round picks being a big part of the team with Luke Mountain, Luc Salem, Thomas Jarman, and Brayden Stannard all being picked past the fifth round. The tender contract is always something good to have in the holster to use or leverage for something else.
In the end, it’ll take time to see how this pans out, but both Kurtas and Friedman have been cemented in Black Bears lore and won’t be forgotten any time soon.