Matthew Boudens enjoyed his rookie season with the Komets so much that he pitched some of his college teammates on the experience.
“I honestly just told them about my experience and there's a reason I'm coming back. It's because I loved it there in front of those fans and playing pro hockey. It was kind of something you dream of as a kid,” Boudens said after re-signing Wednesday.
The sales technique was enough to help convince rookie defensemen Matt Murphy and Marcus McIvor, who won championships alongside Boudens at the University of New Brunswick, to sign with the Komets.
Fort Wayne also brought back center Marco Roy, who starred last season for the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads, and signed rookie forward Stephen Harper.
“It's great to have Marco back in a Komet uniform,” Komets general manager David Franke said. “He will be one of the go-to guys this coming season.”
Roy, 25, totaled 29 goals and 74 points in 74 regular-season games for Fort Wayne between 2017 and 2019.
A second-round draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers in 2013, he had two goals and 13 points in 24 playoff games for Fort Wayne, helping the Komets to Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference finals.
An alternate captain, he was traded to the Steelheads last summer because Fort Wayne owed them for Justin Kea. In 55 games with Idaho, Roy had 10 goals and a team-leading 50 points.
“I hated seeing Marco go and he's still as good as he ever was,” Komets coach Ben Boudreau said. “He wants to win a championship and to be here. That's the biggest thing and it can be tough (finding) older guys who want to come for the right reasons.”
It's not clear why Roy wasn't protected by the Steelheads. Some players have it written into their contracts that they must be made free agents or, sometimes, teams cut a player if their agent agrees to bring them another valuable prospect.
Boudens, 26, had 10 goals, 20 points and 94 penalty minutes in 43 Fort Wayne games as a rookie, also skating 10 games in the higher-level American Hockey League for Chicago. Boudens fought eight times, one fewer than ECHL-leader Ben Wilson of Kalamazoo.
“Matt had a good, productive rookie season with the Komets,” Franke said. “We like his style of play, leadership qualities and his willingness to do whatever he can to help the Komets win. He was also very helpful recruiting Matt Murphy and Marcus McIvor.”
Murphy, 25, had six goals, 22 points and a plus-21 rating in 29 games last season for New Brunswick. McIvor, 26, had two goals and 13 points in 25 games before COVID-19 halted the season and prevented him from a chance of a fourth university championship in five years.
Boudens, Murphy and McIvor combined to win eight national championships at New Brunswick.
“We had some success at school and I kind of know what both those guys are about,” Boudens said. “They can be a big help to our lineup and, obviously, there's familiarity between us. They are two of my really good buddies, so I was really excited when they decided that Fort Wayne was the spot for them.”
Harper, 25, had nine goals and 29 points in 23 games last season for Acadia University. He played in the Ontario Hockey League from 2011 to 2016, for Erie, Belleville, Hamilton and Niagara, totaling 96 goals and 228 points over 324 games.
“The thing that people say about him is: 'He's a man amongst boys,'” Boudreau said, adding there are some comparisons to team MVP Brady Shaw. “You're going to need size and grit in this division, and he's every bit of a man in that he's a 6-foot-2 power forward and he's produced at top levels. He's an unbelievable offensive threat who can skate, shoot, do it all.”
The Komets had previously signed Szydlowski, Jenks, Anthony Petruzzelli, Kyle Haas, Fort Wayne native Blake Siebenaler, goaltender Stefanos Lekkas and rookie Tommy Beaudoin.
The Komets extended qualifying offers Tuesday to seven unsigned players – one fewer than the maximum allowed – so they retain the rights to Shaw, All-Star Shawn St-Amant, Alan Lyszczarczyk, Brett McKenzie, Olivier Galipeau, Chase Stewart and Adam Henry. Gabriel Verpaelst wasn't given an offer; as a veteran he could have become a restricted free agent July 16 anyway.
The Komets' season is scheduled to begin Oct. 16 at Indianapolis, though the season could be delayed or canceled depending on COVID-19 safety protocols.