One of the reasons Chris Auger decided to come back to the Komets is because the team decided he could bring someone with him.
Rookie center Scott Fleming was Auger's best friend growing up and they played two years of juniors together with Wellington.
"You're going to be surprised with him,'' Auger said. "He's going to be that guy that everyone falls in love with because he's a tremendous hockey player.''
That sounds like a lot of hype, but Komets coach Gary Graham believes it after scouting Fleming by talking to several opposing coaches.
"I've never heard so many coaches speak so highly about a guy,'' Graham said. "He can fly. He'll be one of the best skaters on the ice.''
Fleming, 25, scored more than 100 points during his college career at Dartmouth, went to Phoenix's NHL rookie camp and signed with Portland in the American Hockey League before being sent to Gwinnett in the ECHL. He played six games with Gwinnett, scoring three goals and four points before a major concussion sent him out for the season.
After that, he visited Auger and Fort Wayne during the Komets' 2012 Central Hockey League playoff run before deciding to quit hockey for a job as a commercial real estate researcher in Toronto. Real life wasn't as much fun as hockey, so when Auger asked earlier this summer if Fleming was ready to play again, it took two seconds for an answer. Auger quickly called Komets General Manager David Franke.
``That got things in motion, and luckily it worked out well for both of us,'' Fleming said. ``It just felt like the right thing to do at this time.''
The rough part for both players will be knocking the rust off after long layoffs. Auger played only four games last year before a season-ending knee injury. Fleming is moving back to their hometown of Belleville, Ontario, soon to continue training with Auger, and both will be back to Fort Wayne by early September.
``I have a lot of confidence in Scott and Aug coming in,'' Graham said. ``Neither one played last year, but they are extremely competitive and they can be relied upon with and without the puck. They are very detailed on the defensive side.''
Fleming said he already plays in two Toronto summer leagues along with track sprints and extra gym workouts.
``Coming out of school, I had high expectations,'' Fleming said. ``I had a one-way AHL contract so I definitely had more aspirations, but I'm hoping to get back on track here. Gary has done a really good job talking to me and explaining his philosophy, and I'm going to like being in an area where you could get a few more call-ups to the AHL.''
The Komets also signed forward John Dunbar and rookie defensemen Joe Hartman and Kyle Follmer on Tuesday. Dunbar scored five goals and 10 points in 17 games last year with the Komets.
Graham said the team continues to negotiate with center J.M. Rizk. The team has 15 players signed, and Graham said he has 24 contracts available. His next goal is to focus on finding No. 1 goaltender, a top-line center and an offensive defenseman.