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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von Stroup | Journal Gazette Brady Shaw leapfrogs Kalamazoo's Ben Wilson after scoring for the Komets last season. 

Monday, July 08, 2019 6:30 pm

K's talking with Vegas and mystery team

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Signs continue to point to the Komets renewing their affiliation with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, at least that’s how it sounds from general manager David Franke.

But it could be weeks before it happens – if it happens.

“There’s nothing new to report at this time,” Franke said today. “We’ve contacted the Vegas people again. Nothing is imminent. Hopefully in the next couple weeks we’ll get it done. We’re trying to get it done.”

Last season, the Golden Knights assigned goaltender Zach Fucale and, for a bit, forward Matthew Weis to Fort Wayne.

There is another NHL team perhaps vying for the Komets’ services. While Franke didn’t name the team, it’s clearly the Los Angeles Kings, who lost their ECHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, when they suspended operations.

As I had posited earlier in the summer, it seems there’s a chance the Komets could affiliate with the Golden Knights and maybe have a less formal working agreement with the Kings.

“We have another NHL team that’s interested in working with us on a player-by-player basis,” Franke said. “That’s not totally finalized but we’re working on that option.”

One has to wonder, in this era of the leagues wanting one affiliation for each team, if the NHL and/or ECHL will be OK with the Kings having something informal with the Komets, while there are independent teams in the ECHL, but good luck enforcing otherwise.

Remember, there are ties between the Komets and Kings – namely, Robbie Laird, a former player and coach with the Komets, who is the senior pro scout with the Kings.

While I was the first to say from the start that the affiliation with the Golden Knights would be a disaster last season – and it was because of a) the scarcity of players in the Knights’ minor-league system and b) the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves’ track record of being a poor partner – there is reason to think this season would be much better.

The Golden Knights have players who could be coming out of juniors and be fit for the ECHL level. Looking at goalie, for example, Jiri Patera and Dylan Ferguson are highly touted goalies who could land in Fort Wayne, which hasn’t yet signed a goalie.

Asked if the Komets are on the cusp of making any player signings to add to the nucleus of Brady Shaw, Anthony Petruzzelli, Jason Binkley and Chase Stewart, Franke said: “There’s nothing imminent. We’ve still got three or four players from last year’s team that we’re talking to. We’re talking to a lot of new players, a lot of agents. It’s just a process. It’s putting the puzzle together.”

jcohn@jg.net