FORT WAYNE – In the midst of an NHL lockout the Komets are hopeful it could actually improve the quality of their roster in the ECHL, two rungs below the NHL.
Its a very unique situation, and you dont know which way its going to go, general manager David Franke said. You try to just react accordingly.
The Komets get on the ice for their first practice Sept. 29.
On Wednesday, they signed defenseman Scott Kishel, who spent the last four years with Minnesota-Duluth and tallied three goals and 29 points in 82 games. The Komets also awarded tryouts to nine other players – including goaltender Larkin Saalfrank of Fort Wayne – giving them 31 players vying for about 21 spots.
There are questions about the Komets roster, since seven players will begin training camp in the higher-level American Hockey League and since the Komets havent yet found a replacement for recently retired star defenseman Frankie DeAngelis.
The NHL lockout could solve those issues, Franke said. And the recently signed affiliation with the NHLs Anaheim Ducks will mean players are sent to Fort Wayne, too.
Theres going to be a lot of players available. There will be a lot of borderline ECHL/AHL players from last year that are probably going to have to start the season in the ECHL. They may end up playing there all year, Franke said. The lockout is going to make a lot of bodies available in the American League and whatever cant be absorbed there will come to the ECHL. I think its going to make our league, initially, even stronger.
Now, when the NHL goes back to work, some of those advantages maybe go away.
Forwards Chris Auger, Jean-Michel Rizk and Brandon Marino will start with Norfolk of the AHL. Defenseman Daniel Maggio will be with Chicago. Goalie Charlie Effinger will be with Grand Rapids. Goalie Kenny Reiter will be with Bridgeport. And defenseman Brent Henley is also expected to be at an AHL camp, too.
To help fill the void, at least until those players return, the Komets have given tryouts to forwards John Dunbar, Matt Atsoff, Seth Ronsberg and Linus Werneman. Dunbar played last season with Quinnipiac, Atsoff with Brooklyn of the Federal Hockey League, Ronsberg with Alexandria of the North American Hockey League and Werneman was in Sweden.
Also in camp will be defensemen Nicholas Thommen, who played last season in Sweden, and former Las Vegas player Daniel Nycholat.
Goalies Francois Lacerte, who played last season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and goalie Jeff Rose, who spent most of last season in the Southern Professional Hockey League, will also be in camp with the Komets.