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Komets load up with three big-name signings

A year after leading the ECHL in plus-minus, defenseman Drew Daniels is coming back to the Komets. News-Sentinel photo by Blake Sebring
A year after leading the ECHL in plus-minus, defenseman Drew Daniels is coming back to the Komets. News-Sentinel photo by Blake Sebring

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For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blakesebring and at his blog www.tailingthekomets.com.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Szydlowski, Daniels are latest to return

Wednesday, July 29, 2015 04:51 pm
The Fort Wayne Komets are loading up their preseason roster. They signed three big-name players on Wednesday with the return of team Most Valuable Player Shawn Szydlowski, all-ECHL defenseman Drew Daniels and European scoring ace P.J. Fenton."Things are starting to come together," Komets coach Gary Graham said. "We're excited about all three of these guys."

The signings give the Komets 15 players under contract for training camp.

Szydlowski, 24, led the Komets with 38 goals and 74 points in 57 games and also played 11 in the American Hockey League before a knee injury during the playoffs ended his season. He told the Komets early in the summer he first wanted to try for an AHL contract, but definitely wanted to return to Fort Wayne.

As for his knee injury, Szydlowski said the doctors have said his recovery is ahead of schedule. He's been jogging and returned to skating next week. He's had no pain or setbacks so far.

"I'm not worried," Szydlowski said. "I'm anxious to get back on the ice and see how it feels. I'm a little bit excited at the same time since i haven't had any setbacks. I'm ready to get back on the ice and have a good month and a half to get myself back into on-ice shape."

After using a more-intensive workout program last summer, Szydlowski knows what it will take to get back into prime condition for this season.

"He's really matured and become a better pro every year with how he handles adversity," Graham said. "With the work that he put in last summer to come into Lake Erie's camp in the best shape ever, he knows what it's going to take to get ready. This will be a different set of challenges, but he knows what he has to do."

Pushing a player to the next level if Graham's goal for Daniels this season. The defenseman led the ECHL last year in plus-minus at plus-46, and also scored a career-high 45 points while playing every game.

"I was a big believer in Drew," Graham said. "Last year his role with the team really took off and expanded as the year went on. He was one of the best defensemen in the league, and this could really be a good opportunity for him to come back and prove his consistency."

Fenton, 29 and the son of Nashville Predators assistant general manager Paul Fenton, has been an outstanding scorer in Germany where he has played the last four years. He scored 64 points in 51 games last year and has averaged better than a point-per-game the last four years. He has also played more than 100 AHL games during his career.

"He's been a good player in his career, a responsible player and he'll add a little veteran leadership," Komets general manager David Franke said.

Though Fenton brings a veteran's experience, he does not qualify as a veteran under ECHL rules. He contacted the Komets early in the spring about signing in Fort Wayne.

"He's a very proven guy who can bring some real good leadership to our locker room," Graham said. "He's played in a lot of big spots in his career, and been a steady producer in the biggest moments."

Franke and Graham said they are continuing to talk with defenseman James Martin and center Eric Faille, and they've had preliminary talks with defenseman Joey Leach. Talks with Leach have picked up since the Komets signed a two-year affiliation renewal with Colorado last week, Graham said.

More Information

Online

For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blakesebring and at his blog www.tailingthekomets.com.

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