The Fort Wayne Komets completed a trade Monday that sent the ECHL rights to forward Kyle Thomas to the Utah Grizzlies for forward Ralph Cuddemi. Thomas signed an American Hockey League contract earlier this summer with the San Diego Gulls who have the Grizzlies as an ECHL affiliate.
Thomas, 27, scored 27 goals and 69 points in 58 games for the Komets last season, completing a third season in a row where his numbers improved dramatically. He first joined the Komets out of the Southern Professional Hockey League in 2014-15, scoring three goals and seven points in 23 games, and followed that up with 15 goals and 40 points in 61 games two years ago.
"I think it was time for him," Komets General Manager David Franke said. "He got this offer early in the summer, and there's nothing we could do about it, but at least we're going to get a good player in return. We developed him and gave him a chance here, and he really responded. Kyle is a very good player, and we wanted equal value in return."
Cuddemi scored 27 goals and 52 points in 64 games last year as a rookie with Utah. He played four years at Canisius for former Komet center Dave Smith.
Because he had signed with an AHL team, the Komets had no choice but the trade Thomas's rights, just as they did four years ago when center Eric Faille signed with Toronto.
Utah hosts the Komets for games Nov. 10 and 11.
"This happened pretty early on in the summer," Thomas said. "It was a little bit of a surprise at first, but a decision I had to make. I'm sad to see the Fort Wayne part of my career end. I loved every minute of it there from the guys, the coaches and the owners. They are first-class all the way through. They gave me a chance when a lot of other teams wouldn't."
The Komets also announced they have added forward Stephen Pierog and defenseman Brad Bourke to the preseason roster. Pierog, 23, has spent the last two seasons with Macon of the Southern Professional Hockey League, and Bourke, 28, is the brother of former Komet Troy Bourke and played last season with Evansville and Pensacola in the SPHL.
Franke said he's working on travel, immigration and housing details for the upcoming season, and the Komets are working on signing a couple more players to their roster for training camp which will open Oct. 2.
"If they don't make it, they'll probably go to the SPHL, but they are all good players and some of them have played in the league before," Franke said.
The team will play three exhibition games, Oct. 6 at Indy, Oct. 7 at home against Indy and Oct. 9 at home against Kalamazoo. The regular season opens Oct. 14 at home against Toledo.
The Komets have also been talking with Tuscon of the AHL about training camp possibilities. Franke said the Roadrunners have already signed some players to two-way contracts, but the Komets cannot announce those yet.
"That has to come from them, but we know potentially who we're going to get from Tucson when their camp breaks," he said. "That will be good for us. We know ahead of time what we can expect and then work off of that. We'll get a goalie for sure."
The AHL training camps open a week before the Komets, and Fort Wayne coach Gary Graham will be making a trip to Tucson. Franke said it's likely some of the players from Tucson won't report to Fort Wayne's training camp the first two days.