A few sources, speaking to me on the condition of anonymity, have expressed concern over what kind of contract offers players from last season have received and/or will receive from the Komets.
They are saying that because the players are set for underwhelming contracts, there will likely be an almost entirely different lineup than last season, when the Komets won their third straight Turner Cup in the International Hockey League.
Full disclosure here, though: If players are talking to me about this, there is a fair amount of politicking going on, and this is how the offseason game is played.
General manager David Franke said he has made some contract offers already and is in the process of "reaching out to players who weren't on the team last year," as he tries to get a grasp on the rules in the Central Hockey League.
(Many of the rules that will be utilized in the IHL-CHL collective haven't been made public yet, and things like the salary cap and the collective bargaining agreement with the Player's Association haven't even been finalized.)
"The players are going to get fair offers," Franke said. "But the salary cap is going to be less than last season -- I am operating right now on what it was last season in the CHL ($10,450 per week, $2,550 less than IHL) -- and consequently, it may not exactly be what the players were hoping for or looking for, or may not have the raises they wanted.
"But I have to scrutinize what I'm paying them. The roster will be smaller, as we'll have 19-man rosters and be able to dress 18. ... At the end of the day, they will be fair offers. I won't be low-balling anybody. But there will be things we just can't afford."
I don't know what's going to happen here. I don't blame the players for their disgruntlement, as some of them have been making some good wages and they want at least what they were making last season.
However, some of them are just plain panicking, since it's early in the summer and they should be keeping their options open, anyway.
Besides, the Komets aren't going to be able to pay as much overall this season, especially with increased travel. Until everything is finalized with the CHL and the Player's Association, I doubt the Komets are going to make promises they're not sure they'll be able to keep.
If they commit to too many contracts early, they could be hamstrung later. In other words, it wouldn't surprise me if they spend more heavily than usual late in the summer.
I know some of the Komets are looking at Europe, including one or two big names. To me, that's because that's where the more lucrative offers are going to come from. But jobs in Europe can be dicey. How many guys have we seen through the years come back because it didn't work out like they thought?
Most of the players do want to come back. Even those who haven't seen eye to eye with coach Al Sims would be willing to put that in the past for another good shot at a championship.
But there's going to be a lot of hardball being played in the meantime, and I'm betting that we only see about seven players back from last season's team, with many of the absentees surprising you.
I had two players ask me today who I would bring back, were I Franke, and here's what I told them:
I would target, in this order, bearing in mind potential costs: Colin Chaulk, Nick Boucher, P.C. Drouin, Frankie DeAngelis, Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, Matt Syroczynski.
If possible I would make a hard push for Leo Thomas, Guy Dupuis, Brandon Warner and Bobby Phillips, but, apologies, none of them are irreplaceable.
This isn't to say I wouldn't go after other guys, but those would be at the top of my list.
- We will delve into this topic and many more -- including the new NCAA conference alignments -- on "We've got Game," co-hosted by Justin A. Cohn and Ben Smith. It runs live 6 to 7 p.m. tonight, and you can listen anytime afterward, too. Click here to get it. We will be talking a lot of different topics of sports and pop culture. And this week's guest is Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com.