Jake Kamrass was one of the ECHL's top rookies last season and in consideration for the team's MVP award, which eventually went to Jamie Schaafsma.
Kamrass, a forward, who was expected to be a cornerstone of this season's team, dealt the Komets a blow this week by opting to retire to take a job outside of hockey.
“He's done playing hockey and he's getting into the business world,” Komets general manager David Franke said, confirming the news Friday.
Kamrass, 25, totaled 17 goals and 51 points in 57 regular-season games with the Komets. He was voted the team's Rookie of the Year, was the only Fort Wayne player with a hat trick and had a 12-game point-scoring streak on Memorial Coliseum ice last season.
It's the second straight year that the Komets have lost a player in the days leading up to training camp. Danny Moynihan was released two days before the 2018 camp because of an undisclosed medical condition.
With the Komets opening this year's camp Sept 30, there still may be time to find an able replacement, though the forward position is certainly their deepest and most capable of absorbing the loss of a player of Kamrass' caliber.
“If you look at our roster, we've got some very good players up front, very good candidates at the forward position,” Franke said. “It's disappointing that Jake won't be back, but we've still got the firepower up front. And that doesn't include anybody we would get from (the club's affiliation with the Vegas Golden Knights).”
The Komets have 14 forwards slated to vie for about 11 roster spots. They include returning players Szydlowski, Brady Shaw and Anthony Petruzzelli; former Toledo star A.J. Jenks; and Brett McKenzie, who was also one of the ECHL's top rookies last season with 16 goals and 45 points in 62 games for the Atlanta Gladiators.
Kamrass, who recently got married, was supposed to attend training camp with the American Hockey League's Charlotte Checkers, who won the Calder Cup last season.
He had been acquired by the Komets early last season from the South Carolina Stingrays for Garret Ross – a deal that enabled the Komets to bring back the ECHL's 2018 leading scorer and MVP, Shawn Szydlowski, from Europe.
Kamrass' 59 points with Fort Wayne and South Carolina, combined, tied him for fifth among ECHL rookies in scoring, seven points back of leader Myles Powell of Cincinnati. Kamrass had one goal in the Komets' six-game playoff loss to Toledo.
Notes: Former Komets coach Gary Graham, now coaching ORG Beijing in China, has former Fort Wayne players Gabriel Desjardins, Artur Tyanulin and Bobby Shea, who earlier in the summer had come out of retirement to sign with the Worcester Railers.