I’ve already covered what the Komets should do with their coaching situation, so let’s take a look what players they should bring back.
For me, there’s a list of six players that I have at the top of my must-haves list.
Brady Shaw, Jake Kamrass, Anthony Petruzzelli and Marco Roy are atop the list because of their levels of talent and consistency, and because it would give the Komets a strong, young nucleus looking forward.
Jamie Schaafsma, despite being 36, is also a guy I would chase because you know there’s going to be a rebuild going on and he was just selected team MVP for his leadership and on-ice versatility. Shawn Szydlowski is one of the franchise’s all-time greats, still a point-per-game player, too, so I would try to keep him if possible.
It’s important to note that Shaw, Kamrass, Roy and Phelix Martineau will all likely be looked at by American Hockey League teams, so locking them down early may not be easy.
J.C. Campagna and Mason Baptista are guys that could be looked at – Campagna for his goal scoring, Baptista for his grit – but they’re definitely in the second tier of guys the Komets need to prioritize. Rookies Kyle Hope and Anthony Nellis also have huge upside, and they’re among that second tier. As much as I like Martineau, I have him there, too, because I just suspect he’ll be in the AHL much of the season, as happened this season.
The defensive corps? I’d blow it up. It was a weak point all season in terms of getting skated around, turning the puck over the breaking the puck out of the defensive zone. Chase Stewart intrigues me, Ryan Lowney and Jason Binkley are solid enough, but the Komets need to get faster, bigger, stronger and more reliable on the back end.
The goaltending may be largely determined by if the Komets renew their affiliation with the Vegas Golden Knights, but it’s worth noting that Zach Fucale’s Vegas contract is expiring. If he’s available, I love the idea of a Fucale-Alex Dubeau tandem.
Overall, the Komets need to revert more to what they were in 2017-18 and get some more size and strength. They also need to really bring in elite centers who can play both ends of the ice and win faceoffs, after their centers were largely Roy, Baptista, Schaafsma and Justin Hodgman.
None of this is to say I wouldn’t bring back players I didn’t name, like Cody Sol, Jordan Sims, Kevin Gibson or Sean Flanagan, but you’ve got to have priorities.
-- The Komets raised $24,500 through their annual end-of-season jersey auction. Jamie Schaafsma’s jersey sold for the most at $3,500, the most a jersey has sold for since Justin Hodgman’s went for $5,500 in 2008. Anthony Petruzzelli’s went for $1,600, J.C. Campagna’s for $1,550, Jake Kamrass’ for $1,500, Zach Fucale’s for $1,400, Kevin Gibson’s for $1,250, Kyle Hope’s for $1,250, Brady Shaw’s for $1,000 and Cody Sol’s for $1,000. So many people attended the auction, they needed to bring extra seating in, by the way.
-- In the first game of the Central Division finals, Toledo beat Cincinnati 3-2. But the Cyclones, the top seed in the playoffs, pulled a Komets in this. Cincinnati fought back from a slow start by scoring twice in the final 5 minutes of regulation to tie it at 2. But just 47 seconds after tying it, the Cyclones coughed up the puck in their own zone and allowed a Shane Berschbach goal. The series has a wacky 1-3-3 format because of building availability in Cincinnati, so Toledo has the next three games at the Huntington Center.