FORT WAYNE — Komets general manager David Franke said Monday the offseason was just heating up after the team re-signed forwards Kaleigh Schrock and Mike Embach.
Well … flame on, then.
On Tuesday, the Komets signed two more holdovers from last season – defensemen William Lacasse and Matt Maione – and completed a trade with Utah that will bring in another defenseman, Drew Daniels. And they announced they’ve extended qualifying offers to six more players from the 2013-14 team that reached the ECHL conference semifinals.
The six are goaltender Ben Meisner and forwards Scott Fleming, Brandon Marino, Aaron Clarke and Christian and Dean Ouellet.
Of those, Marino and Dean Ouellet have already signed to play in Europe next season. But by extending them qualifying offers before the July 1 deadline, the Komets retain their ECHL rights. Veteran players’ rights are retained until Aug. 1, at which point they become restricted free agents, while non-veterans’ rights are retained for the entire season.
“We’re just protecting ourselves in case these guys don’t like it over there, so we’re the ones they back to if they come back to the ECHL,” Franke said.
The Komets could have qualified up to eight players, no more than four of whom could be veterans. The signing of Lacasse, Maione and Daniels, meanwhile, brings to five the number of players they already have in the fold for next season.
“I think what we’ve got there is we’ve got a very good start on our defensive corps with these three guys,” Franke said. “I think with the three guys we signed today, we’ve got a good mix of defensive defenseman in Daniels, and with Maione and Lacasse I think we’ve got two guys that have more offense in their game that we need to bring out this year.”
Lacasse, 26, played in 60 games after coming over from Bloomington in the Southern Professional Hockey League, posting a plus-13 that was third best on the team.
Maione, 23, made his pro debut in Fort Wayne, scoring seven assists in 11 regular season and 11 playoff games.
Daniels, 25, skated 44 games for Cincinnati and 13 for Utah before coming to the Komets in the completion of deal made last season. He was picked by San Jose in the seventh round of the 2008 NHL entry draft and made his pro debut in 2012 with Allen of the Central Hockey League, helping the team win the league championship that year.
“Lacasse was one of our steadiest defensemen all year,” Franke said. “When he came here, he fit right in. He was one of our most dependable guys; the thing I like about Will is he comes to play, practices hard and plays hard.
“Maione was a target of ours. We’re going to try to get him involved in the power play if we can. Daniels is a big kid who’s got experience in the ECHL, and he’s more of a defensive defenseman.”
Note: Former Komets captain Colin Chaulk will return to the division rival Kalamazoo Wings as an assistant coach for the second straight season.