Center Brett Smith was the first player signed by the Central Hockey League expansion team Brampton (Ontario) Beast on Monday.
An alternate captain with the Komets last season, Smith had 13 goals and 32 assists for 45 points in 62 games in his second season with the Komets.
The 5-foot-8, 175-pound Smith is a native of Guelph, Ontario.
"My main decision was to be close to home," Smith said in a phone interview Tuesday. "I have been away for nine years. It was time to be back. I am leaving, though, with a heavy heart. We went through a lot last year."
The Komets retain exclusive negotiating rights with these players until at least Saturday: Charlie Effinger, Daniel Maggio, Scott Kishel, Nick Wheeler, Mathieu Gagnon, Jeremy Gates, Tyler Butler, Jamie Milam, Eric Giosa, Matt Firman, Jean-Michel Rizk, John Dunbar, Chris Auger, Mike Hoban, Brandon Marino, Matt Syroczynski, Thomas Beauregard, Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and the recently retired Colin Chaulk.
On Saturday, a season-ending roster of up to 20 players is due to the league, and it can include only players who signed an ECHL contract for the 2012-13 season.