FORT WAYNE – Komets coach Al Sims doesn’t know what players will make their way to Fort Wayne from the higher-level American Hockey League before Friday’s ECHL season opener against the Kalamazoo Wings.
However, goaltender Charlie Effinger and defenseman Brent Henley have been returned by Grand Rapids and Connecticut, respectively.
There could be anywhere from two to six more players coming from the AHL, greatly affecting what the Komets will look like as compared with today.
All Sims can do is determine his 20-player team from the players currently at Memorial Coliseum, then reshape as things happen.
Right now, we’re going to pick a team and if on Monday or Tuesday, guys come down from Norfolk (of the AHL), then that is going to bump some people out, Sims said.
Sims cautioned that just because a player comes from Norfolk or its parent club, the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, doesn’t necessarily mean he will be better than all of the 34 other players currently with Fort Wayne.
The assumption is any players coming down will be, though.
The agreement (with the Ducks) is that their players are here to play, Sims said. Obviously, if they are not good enough, then they’ll send them on to other teams in our league. But if we’re getting borderline American Hockey League players, they should be pretty good.
In the meantime, the players at the Coliseum must impress Sims and general manager David Franke, and they put a lot of stock into what they see in exhibition games. The Komets will play two exhibition games, tonight and Sunday at the Coliseum against the Evansville IceMen, another team that has shifted from the CHL to the ECHL.
That’s when you really get a gauge on a guy, how smart he is and how patient he is with the puck. Is he physical? Is he not physical? You get all that from these games, Sims said.
Asked what he really needs to find from the players on the bubble, Sims said: What we really need is a top-six forward and to really fill in, get some third-line spots. And we need a couple defensemen to come through and make the hockey team. Those are the positions we’re looking to fill and we’re looking to do it with the best guys we can. Obviously, with Bryant and Dustin Molle and Frankie (DeAngelis) leaving the team, it’s left a void back there on defense and we’ve got to fill that.