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The Journal Gazette

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Jamie Schaafsma of the Komets, bottom, battles Alex Gudbranson of the Quad City Mallards for the puck along the boards at Memorial Coliseum last season. Schaafsma, the Komets' captain, re-signed with Fort Wayne today.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 6:12 pm

Talking Komets' signings, affiliation

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

The roster for the Komets’ 65th season began taking shape today with the signings of Jamie Schaafsma, who captained Fort Wayne to the Western Conference finals last season, and youngsters David Friedmann and Cole Martin.

“We’ve always had a history of getting our captain taken care of early on because he’s the leader of the locker room,” general manager David Franke said. “I think it shows respect to him and his family. It’s always good to have your captain on board and it makes recruiting go easier because it helps some guys who may have been on the fence decide if they want to sign with us.”

Schaafsma, a 33-year-old center, joined the Komets last summer after winning championships three straight years with the Allen Americans, captaining them in 2014-15. He totaled 25 goals and 39 points in 70 games with the Komets, then added three goals and nine points in 16 playoff games before they lost to the eventual-champion Americans in five.

“He has a big effect on the team and was extremely good at his job last year. He got more comfortable as the season went along,” Franke said of Schaafsma, who had a slow start – no goals in his first 17 games and five goals with 13 points in his first 38 – before breaking out in the second half.

“His impact will be even more felt by the players this season.”

Friedmann, 22, had four goals in eight regular-season games and was scoreless in two playoff games, after the center finished his four-year career at Robert Morris University. As a senior, he had 12 goals and 42 points in 39 games.

“David really came in and played well. He was a good spark,” Franke said. “The things I liked about him is, No. 1, he’s a really good kid, very polite and personable. He’s a young professional and has a good head on his shoulders. … And he takes that (5-foot-11, 195-pound) size that he’s got – he’s not tall but is solid – and uses his willingness to get close to the net.”

Martin, 22, had three goals and 13 points in 57 games as a defenseman with Idaho, Atlanta and Norfolk, which traded his rights to Fort Wayne on June 13 to complete the deal for Dean Ouellet. Martin finished his junior career in 2014-15 with the Western Hockey League’s Kelowna Rockets, coached by former Komets and Quebec Nordiques defenseman Dan Lambert.

The Komets can maintain exclusive negotiating rights with up to eight players by making them qualifying offers Thursday. Schaafsma, Friedmann and Martin aren’t included because they have signed contracts. The remaining eligible players are goaltender Pat Nagle, defensemen Randy Cure and Cody Sol, and forwards Shawn Szydlowski, Mike Embach, Garrett Thompson, Kyle Thomas and Taylor Crunk.

The Komets could still try to re-sign other players from last season, such as Alex Belzile, Garrett Meurs or Justin Hamonic, but other teams are free to negotiate with them.

By the way, no one seems to know when the ECHL will announce the divisional alignments and playoff format for next season. While the league's meetings in Las Vegas physically ended last week, they are still discussing some matters. I continue to hear that Fort Wayne will be reunited with Kalamazoo and Toledo, but I don't know how trustworthy that is.

Also, still no final word on whether the Komets' affiliation with the Colorado Avalanche is indeed over, as The Journal Gazette and 21Alive both reported it was last week, citing unnamed sources. I don't know the timeline on that announcement or a potential agreement with a new NHL team. Last year, the Komets inked their deal with the Avs on July 21. It's important to note that NHL teams just dealt with the draft and some are having offseason camps around this time, so they have bigger fish to fry than ECHL affiliations. We may know what the Komets are doing tomorrow or it could be many weeks.