FORT WAYNE – The Komets will gather tonight at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center for the annual end-of-season party and jersey auction (Doors open at 6:30, auction begins at 7).
And it will be as much a celebration of the teams championship as a goodbye to those who wont be back next season.
Komets president Michael Franke said the team will have no announcement this week on what league it will play in next season, but sources said everything is a go for a move to the ECHL.
Because that league is stocked with younger players – only four veterans of 260 games, not including goalies – it means hanging on to the lineup that won the Presidents Cup may be difficult.
Heres how I graded the performance of the Komets and those (with asterisks) who should be retained, assuming the team doesnt get an affiliation with an NHL team, which would send some of its own players.
*Chris Auger, A: Its hard to believe Auger, 24, almost didnt make the team, but he scored 38 goals and 81 points in 75 games during the regular season and playoffs combined.
*Nick Boucher, A: The Komets MVP in the regular season, he went 32-12-3 with a 2.44 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. His performance in Game 1 of the finals was amazing. Hes 31 but a must-keep in the ECHL.
*Frankie DeAngelis, A: At 27, he made the all-CHL team with 18 goals and 46 points.
*Jean-Michel Rizk, A: The 26-year-old rookie deserved playoff MVP consideration for his big goals, he had seven in the playoffs.
*Brett Smith, A: Great leadership, great offensive and defensive play and takes the pressure off Colin Chaulk. At 30, he would fill a veteran spot.
*Mike Vaskivuo, A: A late-season pickup, he was the Playoff MVP with 10 goals and 24 points in 18 games. At 26, he could be on the top line for years.
*Bobby Chaumont, B: He was terrific in the regular season with a team-leading 66 points, but his production sagged in the playoffs. At 27, he could be a casualty of the veteran rule.
*Colin Chaulk, B: At 35, the Komets captain still has skills and gets the best out of his teammates. He will find motivation in trying to win a championship in a fourth league and would fill a veteran spot.
Brent Henley, B: He was a solidifying, physical presence on the blue line and one of the teams MVPs in the regular season, but he was exposed many times in the playoffs. At 31, he might be the odd man out among veterans.
*Daniel Maggio, B: Fresh out of juniors, he had two goals and five points in the playoffs. The defenseman, 21, will be in the ECHL somewhere, if not higher.
Tom Mele, B: He never seemed to get enough playing time, despite his penchant for hitting and big goals. He could probably get an upgrade in salary and playing time elsewhere.
*Jamie Milam, B: Hes an elite offensive defenseman, 27, with a wicked shot – 23 goals in the regular season and playoffs combined – and he doles out huge hits. But he was minus-1 in the regular season and the veteran rules may give Fort Wayne pause.
*Bryant Molle, B: The rookie defenseman, 24, was plus-23 in the regular season. He might get a look from American Hockey League teams.
*Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, B: His speed will be huge in the ECHL as will his defensive prowess and leadership. The 27-year-old needs to finish his scoring chances.
*Stephon Thorne, B: The 21-year-old rookie has tons of potential. He hits a lot, had 31 points and a plus-19 rating in the regular season and was the Komets Most Improved Player.
Gerry Festa, C: The backup goalie, 28, was 6-4-0 with a 2.98 GAA and .902 save percentage in the regular season, but he could be a starter somewhere else, and the Komets will need a younger goalie.
Jamie Lovell, C: The defenseman, 29, was a weak link in the regular season but excellent in the playoffs with 11 points and a plus-4 rating. Its hard to justify using a veteran spot on him.
Dustin Molle, C: He was limited to 20 games because of a groin injury, but the Komets liked the blue-line duo of the Molle brothers and may consider bringing him back, depending on his health.
David Starenky, C: The defenseman, 26, provided a physical presence and was good in his own end. The Komets can probably fill this need with someone younger.
Leo Thomas, C: Despite decent second-line production in the playoffs with three goals and nine points, he was spotty in the regular season, hes 30, and the Komets will move on.
T.J. Miller, NA: The defenseman, 25, played only three games before suffering a concussion, after playing with Wichita and Rapid City. He might be worth a training-camp invite.
Derek Roehl, NA: The forward, 24, got in only one game but has glowing credentials from Western Michigan. The Komets might look at him again.