Phelix Martineau turned heads in his first professional hockey games with the Komets.
Now he's headed back to the team.
He has been assigned to the Komets by Laval of the American Hockey League, Fort Wayne coach Gary Graham conformed Wednesday, in advance of the Komets' 67th season opener Friday at Indianapolis against the Indy Fuel.
“It really helps us up front,” said Graham, who will have nine players back from last season. “It gives us another right-handed shot. He can play wing or center. ... Obviously, he knows the culture and staff and surroundings and played some big games here.”
As a rookie out of Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Martineau, now 21, had two goals and three points in three regular-season games. In the playoffs, he had four goals and eight points in 10 games, as Fort Wayne reached the Western Conference finals.
However, he signed an AHL contract with Laval that seemed to complicate any return to Fort Wayne; if Laval wanted to send him to its ECHL affiliate, Brampton, then Brampton would have to trade for his rights.
However, the NHL affiliate in that ladder, the Montreal Canadiens, ended their relationship with Brampton in September – they no longer have an ECHL partner – and Laval plans to spread players throughout the ECHL.
There had been speculation Martineau would go to the ECHL's Maine Mariners, who would have had to deal something to the Komets in return.
Now the Komets get a player to fill the void left by Danny Moynihan, who was a big offseason signing but had to retire because of undisclosed health reasons.
“We figured Danny Moynihan would be a top-three forward, top-six for sure, and he was going to be a big skill addition up front,” Graham said. “Losing him a week out from training camp and not really being able to replace a player like that, being able to get a player like Phelix Martineau is huge.”
The Komets aren't sure when Martineau will arrive, as they try to solve issues with his immigration work visa. But they hope it will be this week. He had 34 goals and 66 points in 68 games his final season with Cape Breton.