The Komets will not have goaltender Nick Boucher or forward Leo Thomas at the start of their first ECHL season.
Boucher, 31, will have surgery on one of his injured hips next week – he has a common goaltending injury, cam impingements, which is abnormal grinding – and is expected to be out at least until December.
“This is something he needs to do,” general manager David Franke said.
“I’m confident he’ll be back playing, but we’re not going to cross that bridge until we get to the point that he’s rehabbed.”
With the Komets uncertain how long they will be without Boucher, who was the team’s MVP last season and who has won four championships in five years, they plan to bring in at least two new goaltenders.
One they have spoken to is Charlie Effinger, who played last season for Missouri, which the Komets defeated in the Turner Conference finals. Effinger was 32-15-4 with a 2.70 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.
Boucher will have surgery on the right hip Thursday. After he’s had that done, they will decide how to proceed with the left hip.
He plans to play again. However, they need to see how much damage has been done. And if he gets both hips operated on, that could cost him more time – perhaps the entire season.
Boucher estimated that half the goalies in the NHL have had this injury.
“They’re going to go shave the bone and make it fit right again, but if there’s more extensive damage, it’s going to lengthen your recovery time,” Boucher said.
“This has been two years coming. I’ve been playing through the pain and dealing with it and dealing with it. But it’s never hurt me in the offseason. But now it hurts to even golf and become a quality-of-life issue.”
The Komets will use Boucher as an assistant coach under coach Al Sims and player/assistant Colin Chaulk while he’s off the ice.
“Bouch is still going to be a part of the team,” Franke said.
Thomas, meanwhile, has signed a contract to be the player/assistant coach of the Pensacola Ice Flyers in the Southern Professional Hockey League. He will also be the captain under coach Gary Graham, who had been the Komets’ assistant coach the past four years.
“The important thing bringing Leo here is I wanted to have a guy who has been with me in the trenches and won championships and will be a good mentor and role model,” Graham said. “We are going to be bringing in a lot of young players, some right out of college or juniors, and these guys need to learn the pro game and how to become pros on and off the ice. Leo has got a great résumé and will be a great player for the guys to look up to.”
Thomas, 30, had eight goals and 24 points in 54 games last season. In the playoffs, he had three goals and nine points in 18 games en route to the CHL championship.
He didn’t fit into the Komets’ plans because he would have qualified as a veteran in the younger, faster ECHL.
Graham also said that the Komets’ former equipment manager, Mark Bradtmueller, will be Pensacola’s equipment manager this season.
The Komets have signed forwards Chaulk, Brett Smith, Eric Giosa and Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, along with defensemen Daniel Maggio and Kyle Atkins.
Franke confirmed they have spoken with forward Thomas Beauregard, 26, who played last season for Wichita, which Fort Wayne defeated in the finals. Beauregard, the brother of former Komets star David-Alexandre Beauregard, had 22 goals and 59 points in 60 games last season.