Today could be a very big one for the Fort Wayne Komets.
The ECHL's deadline for adding players returning from Europe comes this afternoon, meaning the contract has to be in the ECHL offices in Princeton, N.J. by 5 p.m. The player can show up any time, but he can no longer play for his European team after the deadline.
Komets General Manager David Franke said the team is talking to a forward and a defenseman, but declined to say who, other than nothing neither is a former Komet. It won't be Mike Vaskivuo, Justin Hodgman or Luciano Acquino.
``You just email back and forth and if you can talk you talk, and I get a little help from the players, too,'' Franke said Saturday night as the Komets were beating Cincinnati 7-2. ``They have some communications with these guys we're talking to, and they can help me out with getting stuff sent back and forth.''
As it has been all season, the Komets' roster is a little in flux at the moment. The team has already used 45 players, compared to 27 last year, and forwards Mike Hoban (shoulder) and Colin Chaulk (shoulder and foot) are injured, and defenseman Brent Henley and goaltender Kenny Reiter are called up to the American Hockey League.
The Komets aren't sure if or when Henley is returning. A defenseman with the Komets, Henley is listed as a left wing with the Lake Erie Monsters and has nine penalty minutes in five games.
If Henley doesn't return, that leaves the Komets with an open veteran spot. They also have a veteran spot open since Chaulk has not been able to return to the lineup.
``If we can find somebody who can fit the spot and what we're looking for we'll use it, and then we'll deal with all of it later,'' Franke said. ``We're expecting both of them back, but who knows?''
Hoban will miss this week's three for three games in Colorado, and Franke said there's no timetable on Chaulk's return, though he did return behind the bench this week to help out as assistant coach.
If the Komets are unable to sign the players they want from Europe, Franke said the team would consider trade offers.
``There have been a few trades but we're not anywhere close to entering into a trade with anybody,'' Franke said. ``Everybody is looking for defensemen all the time, especially this time of year. That's why it will be important for us to try to find some young kids out there who can come in and help us if we can't do Europe or make a trade.''
Another option would be signing a college or over-age junior player once their seasons have been completed. The Komets have had great success with that in the past with players like Hodgman, Daniel Maggio and Keith Rodgers.
``There are avenues we can take, but I want to see if anything happens with the European deal first,'' Franke said. ``Our top priority is to get another D-man, and an offensive D-man would really fit the bill right now.''
The ECHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. March 7. Players must play in at least five ECHL games to qualify for the playoff roster.