Komets general manager David Franke said Monday there could be as few as four to six players back from last year's team when the 2011-12 season opens in October. The Komets already have Colin Chaulk and P.C. Drouin under contract for next season, and have previously said they will bring back only one of their two goaltenders.
Franke returned Sunday from the Central Hockey League's annual summer meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz. The league is expected to reveal a 14-team lineup for next season sometime today after Mississippi announced Monday it was joining the Class A Southern Professional Hockey League, joining Odessa, Colorado and Boosier-Shreveport in leaving the CHL.
The players on those four teams will be declared free agents as soon as the league makes the announcement, expected to be split into a pair of seven-team divisions, with the top four from each qualifying for the playoffs.
The Komets will likely be in a division with Dayton, Quad City, Bloomington, Evansville, Missouri and Rapid City. Allen, Arizona, Tulsa, Laredo, Texas, Wichita and Rio Grande Valley would make up the other division. The league is working on the schedule and hopes to announce it by the third week of July.
Franke said the Komets are talking with the Columbus Blue Jackets about extending their partial affiliation into a second season, and that the Blue Jackets would be the only team Fort Wayne would work with.
The CHL confirmed at the meetings that the salary cap would remain the same for next season, along with the maximum of five veterans and a minimum of five players with less than 120 games of pro experience.
It will likely be at least two weeks before the Komets announce any player signings, Franke said.