As always, Komets coach Gary Graham looks ahead.
Even moments after his team was eliminated from the ECHL playoffs Saturday night in Toledo, Graham had some ideas on how to make his squad better for next season.
“You have to keep evolving,” he said. “When you recruit a team during the summer without an affiliation, you have to do it a certain way. We decided to go with the core group of guys, and we didn’t really go after a lot of rookies. I really think we need an influx of youth and speed into the organization. It’s a speed game and we’re going to have to find a way to compete with Toledo in this division by getting faster. Team speed is something I’m really going to stress in the summer time and it’s going to be a big part of what we do.”
Graham is at the end of his second two-year contract, but Komets General Manager David Franke said the team is already talking about a new deal and said that will get sorted out soon and is not a big deal.
“We need to get a little bit better,” Franke said. “I think we have the guys on the team right now that we can build off. Naturally, there will be changes, there always are. We learned some stuff playing Toledo that you have to do to be a championship type team. We still have that goal and we’ll do everything we can this summer to have a good chance to do that. We don’t let a loss take us down. If anything it gives us more energy to come back and be better than we were.”
There likely won’t be an affiliation with a National Hockey League and/or American Hockey League team, Franke said, unless the perfect deal comes along. He feels the Komets proved they can succeed as an independent this year.
Graham said he thinks the Komets need to get more mobile all over the ice and particularly on defense, especially compared to the Walleye.
“They are all good skaters,” he said. “There’s not a hole in their team. They are very structured in what they do. They create a good environment for their defensemen to have a lot of support around them. Their D-core is probably the best skating D-core in the league and that’s a big part of why they are successful.
“We went with an approach this year of having a bigger, heavier and tougher team and that’s great for the regular season. If we’re not going to get the influx of some younger speed from an affiliation at the last minute, we’re going to have to get it at the beginning and develop it throughout the year.”
Training camp for the 2017-18 season opens in 146 days to prepare for the 66th regular-season opener which will be the weekend of Oct. 13.
For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at @blakesebring, at his blog tailingthekomets.com and on Facebook at Blake Sebring.