The expansion Trois-Rivières Lions now have three players from last season’s Komets’ team – Anthony Nellis, Mathieu Brodeur and Olivier Galipeau – and it’s brought into focus some interesting topics.
I totally understand the desire for French Canadian players to want to play close to home, but it’s put teams such as Fort Wayne in a tough situation. That was evident with the Komets having to trade Nellis to the Lions for future considerations and an undisclosed amount of cash. Not a great haul for a player who looked like he’d be named Playoff MVP until Stephen Harper had a monster performance in the Cup-clinching game.
Future considerations are dicey with an expansion team because, theoretically, they don’t yet have much to deal. But if the Lions are going to stock their team with almost exclusively Quebecois, which they should from a marketing perspective, how understanding are those players going to be if, come February, they’re shipped to Indiana as the returns for an earlier trade? That’s why, I’d gamble, the Komets insisted on at least getting some cold hard cash for a player like Nellis, in addition to future considerations.
The more concerning point is how quickly players signed on with the Lions. I know at least one Fort Wayne player made it known in the first week of July he was headed to the Lions. The problem is, the Komets’ season didn’t end until July 2. That would seem to imply there was some sort of contact between the player and the Lions at a time the Komets were still playing, unless said player was just that sure he’d be wanted by the Lions and get the appropriate salary.
Does this type of communication behind the scenes probably happen all the time? Yep. Is it still tampering? Yep. Will the ECHL investigate, especially an ownership group that now owns three ECHL teams (Newfoundland and Iowa being the others)? I’d have little faith in that.
As for the Komets’ roster, I hear from a lot of fans who are panicking. I wouldn’t. It’s still early. I’d give it another two weeks or so.
My hockey insiders are telling me the signings of Connor and Kellen Jones are major – is it too early to call them the Sedin twins of the ECHL? – and I know of at least one player on the way who I would say is a big get.
The reality is, the Komets haven’t had much time to put together their roster because last season went so late. And the market isn’t a great one, since European teams are throwing a lot of money at ECHL players. Plus, when you win a championship, unlike major leagues, it’s difficult to hang on to guys because they’re playing on one-year contracts and want to cash in. Can’t blame them for that.
The concern I do subscribe to is offensive defensemen. Blake Siebenaler can handle some of the load, but the Komets right now need at least one more proven offensive guy back there.
I’m also wondering about the leadership core. Right now, Anthony Petruzzelli is the glue guy. I still believe Matthew Boudens will be back, unless he finds an American Hockey League deal, and I’ve always assumed he was a future captain of this team. I know it worked out two seasons ago, letting the leadership sort itself out, but in my experience you really want to have your captaincy determined from the start so everyone is on the same page. Again, we’ll see what the roster looks like in another couple of weeks.
Remember, though, the talent per team isn’t going to be what it was last season in the ECHL. They are more teams this season, more big-level talent slotted to be in the AHL, and the pool of Double-A talent is just generally diluted from last spring. So it’s difficult to compare rosters to last season, as opposed to comparing them to 2019-20.