FORT WAYNE – General manager David Franke said the Komets are trying to set a tone with their first two player signings for next season, forward Matt Firman and defenseman Mathieu Gagnon.
We want young, hungry guys like them, said Franke, whose team missed the playoffs in its first ECHL season.
Firman, 23, was selected as the Komets’ Rookie of the Year after he tallied 14 goals and 30 points in 69 games. Gagnon, 20, played only six games in his rookie season but had one assist and 22 penalty minutes.
These were two guys we definitely wanted to bring back and two of the first we talked to, Franke said. They are young, physical and with a lot of upside. They play hard, play aggressively and play physically. They’re still learning the game and want to make their marks.
Firman and Gagnon are the first two players signed since Gary Graham was named head coach June 4 to replace Al Sims, who retired.
It’s not entirely clear, though, whether Graham, who led Pensacola to the Southern Professional Hockey League championship last season, will actually get to coach Gagnon.
He has a spot in training camp with Bridgeport of the higher-level American Hockey League and could end up on a two-way contract with the Komets, Franke said, adding he expects Gagnon to spend most of the season with the Komets.
The Komets have had some discussions with Mike Vaskivuo, who was the playoff MVP with Fort Wayne en route to the 2012 CHL championship, about returning. Vaskivuo had 12 goals and 33 points in 24 games with Fort Wayne but played last season in Europe.
Meanwhile, Matt Syroczynski, the 2010 playoff MVP in the IHL who came out of retirement to join the Komets last season, has retired again.
Syroczynski had 10 goals and 18 points in 27 games last season with Fort Wayne.