The Komets continued to build their 2020-21 roster Monday with the announcement that a breakout star from last season would be returning to Fort Wayne for another year, while a standout rookie had been traded to Idaho.
Forward Mason Bergh, a 25-year-old who played 29 games with the Komets and 25 games in the AHL with the Ontario Reign last season, signed to play another season in the Summit City.
“Mason is a player you can trust to play in any position, at any point in the game,” Komets coach Ben Boudreau said in a statement. “He is a complete 200-foot player. While it is easy to witness his contributions on the ice, his value off of it cannot be overlooked. He is a terrific teammate and his infectious personality is a major asset inside the locker room.”
The Komets also announced that Rookie of the Year Alan Lyszczarczyk had been traded to the Idaho Steelheads for cash considerations.
Lyszczarczyk, who reportedly signed with HC Verva Litvínov in the Czech Republic this offseason, had 19 goals and 46 points in 57 games with the Komets.
As well as Lyszczarczyk played last season, Boudreau said that Fort Wayne feels good about the talent and depth it has at forward, making Lyszczarczyk a luxury.
“If we're trading our Rookie of the Year, it means we're pretty confident in some of the guys we've already inked up to this point,” Boudreau said. “Mason Bergh is going to make nine on our roster and we've got nine really good forwards. For a guy like Lyszczarczyk, for us he was one-dimensional on the offensive side and he was unbelievable at it. He needed to play in a certain role that we just didn't have available for him on this year's team.”
Another factor in the decision to trade Lyszczarczyk, according to Boudreau, was the forward's immigration status, which is uncertain as he plays overseas during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
As part of the trade, Fort Wayne also sent 23-year-old defenseman Chase Stewart to the Steelheads. Stewart had played 55 games for the Komets over the last two seasons, compiling seven goals and 20 points and adding two assists in five games in the 2019 playoffs.
Boudreau added that there is a connection between the trade of Lyszczarczyk and Stewart to Idaho and the Komets' signing of center Marco Roy, who led the Steelheads in points last season but was left unprotected this offseason. The coach declined to discuss further details of how the pair of moves are related, but emphasized that the Komets are happy with the return they got in the trade of Lyszczarczyk and Stewart.
Bergh, meanwhile, returns after totaling 10 goals and 19 points in his 29 games with Fort Wayne last season. He earned a call-up to the AHL after registering a point in each of his first eight games with the Komets and totaling six goals and 10 points overall during that stretch.
“He's a mature player and he brings instant credibility to the team with what he can do and how he goes about achieving that,” Boudreau said. “From a coaching perspective, he's a player you can trust and the more people you have that you can trust, the more comfortable you're going to feel with your team.
“So, Mason's a great player on both sides of the puck. ... He checks a lot of boxes for us, and we are happy that he wanted to be back in Fort Wayne after he was highly sought-after as unrestricted free agent this summer.”
The Komets have brought back a talented core that includes Shawn Szydlowski, A.J. Jenks, Anthony Petruzzelli, Matthew Boudens, Kyle Haas, Olivier Galipeau and Stefanos Lekkas.
Boudreau said there will be a few more announcements about the roster either this week or next. Beyond that, the team is going to focus on reaching deals with the three remaining unsigned players to whom they have extended qualifying offers: Brett McKenzie, All-Star Shawn St-Amant and Brady Shaw. Those three combined for 68 goals and 153 points last season.
“Other than that, we're going to be nice and patient and see how everything plays out,” Boudreau said. “We want things to go smoothly because we're really excited about the roster we're building here and I think the fans should be as well.”
The Komets also announced that defenseman Adam Henry, 25, who had received a qualifying offer, has retired. Henry had one assist and six penalty minutes in seven games late last season.