As the Komets have gone about building their roster for the 2017-18 season, they knew they had to find a space for a two-time team MVP and fan favorite.
The Komets announced Monday that Shawn Szydlowski has agreed to terms to return a fifth straight season.
“This is a big signing for the Komets and our fans,” Komets general manager David Franke said. “Shawn Szydlowski represents what it takes to be a Komet. He is gifted offensively, a solid defender and physical when he needs to be.”
Szydlowski, 27, made his Fort Wayne debut in 2013-14 when he was assigned to the Komets by the AHL's Rochester Americans. The winger was named most improved player of the year and led the Komets in the playoffs with six goals and 11 points.
The St. Clair Shores, Michigan, native led the Komets in 2014-15 with a career season-high 38 goals and adding 36 assists for 74 points in 57 games before capturing his first team MVP honor at the end of the season. Szydlowski also was named to the All-ECHL First Team.
Szydlowski earned his second MVP award in 2015-16 leading the Komets with 25 goals and career highs of 50 assists and 75 points in 62 games. In addition, he was named Fort Wayne's defensive forward of the year and earned a spot on the All-ECHL Second Team before leading the Komets in the playoffs with career highs of 10 goals, nine assists and 19 points in 16 postseason appearances.
Last season, Szydlowski scored 25 goals and 66 points in 50 games, reaching the 25-goal mark for the third straight year after serving as captain and a starter for the 2016 ECHL All-Star Classic. Szydlowski again led the Komets for a third playoff season with seven assists and nine points in 10 games. Szydlowski also received his second the Komets' defensive forward of the season award.
Szydlowski began his pro career signing an entry-level NHL contract with Buffalo in 2011 and during his career has also skated AHL stints with Portland, Rochester, Binghamton, Lake Erie/Cleveland and Norfolk.
The winger has amassed ECHL career totals of 100 goals, 144 assists and 244 points in 238 games. Szydlowski has played in 232 career regular season games with the Komets scoring 99 goals, 142 assists and 241 points.
Szydlowski will go back to wearing No. 27 since No. 19 is now retired for Komets legend Terry McDougall. Szydlowski wore No. 27 his first two seasons with the Komets before changing to 19 for the last two campaigns.
The Komets, who open the regular season Oct. 14 at Memorial Coliseum against the Toledo Walleye, have signed 15 players for the coming season: forwards Szydlowski, Justin Hodgman, Jamie Schaafsma, Gabriel Desjardins, Garrett Thompson, Taylor Crunk, Mason Baptista and Dennis Kravchenko, defensemen Jason Binkley, Cody Sol, Curtis Leonard, Ryan Lowney and Bobby Shea, plus goaltenders Garrett Bartus and Alex Sakellaropoulos.