The Komets have eight players under contract for next season. As far as I can tell, that's way ahead of anyone else in the IHL-Central Hockey League collective.
Some of the pressure the Komets had to sign players may have been because of the reserve system in the CHL which, I'm told, works like this: When a certain date kicks in, teams can only hang onto players they have signed and an additional eight, who they put on a protected list.
The Komets had anticipated that reserve date being Thursday but, general manager David Franke said, it has been pushed back.
When a player is protected, the team holds his rights until some other yet-to-be determined date, probably in September.
This reserve system explains, I believe, a lot about the way the Komets have been signing players thus far. While some of the older players have expressed discontent about the low contract offers they've received, especially in light of the Komets' determination to sign players lower on the depth chart, it sort of makes sense.
For example, the Komets knew they wanted to sign a player like Keith Rodger, but they also knew they weren't going to protect him if it came to that. So, it seems, they made it a point to get him inked to a deal, and then they can get into a back-and-forth negotiation with someone like P.C. Drouin, knowing they can prolong it by protecting him from being a free agent.
Plus, the overriding factor in some contract talks continues to be, in my opinion, the negotiations with the players' association about a collective bargaining agreement. The Komets cannot hamstring themselves by signing all the top-level players to big contracts because if the CBA doesn't end up being what they believe it will be, they could end up with no room under the salary cap.
I believe many teams are waiting to see what happens with the CBA before they make major moves.
I'm not apologizing for the offers the Komets have made to some players, and I wouldn't be surprised if many of the still-unsigned players such as Nick Boucher, Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, and Drouin took their services elsewhere, but the level of uncertainty does make things difficult for all involved.
Still, if you are in love with a guy, make sure you don't play cat-and-mouse too much in negotiations. Someone like Boucher probably has a ton of offers from Europe, for example, and I know Schrock is being courted in the ECHL.
In other news, I did want to touch on the status of Todd Robinson, the prolific-scoring center, who was IHL MVP in 2008-09 with Muskegon.
I have been told by multiple sources that he's signing with Odessa of the CHL. I'm not sure why the Jackalopes haven't made an announcement, if that's the case, since it's supposedly been done for several weeks. But Komets fans hoping he will be the replacement for Colin Chaulk can write that one off.
You can be sure there will be a maelstrom of talk when it is made official, though, since the rights of all the Muskegon players were supposed to be going to first-year Evansville. Apparently, if you had an agreement worked out with a CHL team before the Icemen came into the league, you are exempt from having your rights go to the Icemen.
At least, if a deal with Odessa is approved, that would have to be the case.
Which brings us back to this whole moving-the-rights-to-Evansville thing. While it makes sense for the Icemen to have an infrastructure in place, if you're not getting the team's best player, what was the point? On the flip side, if the IHL-CHL tried to tell Robinson he couldn't go to a place like Odessa, get ready for that grievance/lawsuit.