Kansas City had the worst offensive production in the ECHL’s Western Conference last season, scoring just 2.74 goals per game. On the defensive end where they weren’t much better, the front office responded by signing quite a few rookie defensemen to replace the blue-line core from last season. However, it seems the front office has a different strategy for the offensive side of the ice as their only signings so far have been extensions for three players who played with the Mavericks last year. I’ll examine each signing, going into their performance last year and what they may bring to the ice for the 2020-21 season.
Loren Ulett played in 55 games for the Mavericks last season where he had 10 goals and eight assists for a total of 18 points. He also posted 83 penalty minutes as he filled the role of the team’s enforcer and protector.
I am beyond thrilled Loren Ulett is back for next season. Beyond him being my favorite player, he exudes this aura of toughness and strength that is incredibly valuable to any hockey team. Ulett loves to lay out big hits and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves, but he brings a lot more than that to the table. This guy loves to crash the net and get the greasy goals, he’s fantastic on the forecheck, and no matter what, the guy gives it everything he’s got every night. Ulett is poised to be a leader for this team and to set an example on the ice of how the Mavericks should play and I’m very excited to see what he can do next year.
Bryan Lemos was tied for second on the Mavericks in scoring last year as he posted 14 goals and 17 assists for a total of 31 points. Doing so in his rookie season, he put up these numbers through 55 games.
Lemos was a definite bright spot for the Mavericks last year, being one of the guys who could actually put the puck in the net and create chances offensively. He’s an excellent skater, he’s got good hands and vision and knows where to be on the ice. This season, I expect him to have a lot more freedom offensively to create on his own and we should get a chance to see how much talent this guy really has. He played a lot of minutes on the first line last year which shows how much faith they had in a rookie and I expect him to do the same in 2020/2021.
Fitze appeared in just two games with Kanas City during the 2019-20 season after being acquired in a trade in early March from the Orlando Solar Bears. He scored a goal for the Mavericks in those two games before the season was suspended and ultimately cancelled. In 37 games for Orlando, he scored four goals and added four assists for eight points.
I know less about Fitze because I don’t think I got the opportunity to see him play, but here’s what I do know: He’s a big body, at 6’2″ and 203 pounds and he plays as big, if not bigger, than he is. He combines that size and strength with fast skating as he gets up and down the ice very well. He’s very tough and not afraid to battle on either end of the ice.
Coach Tad O’Had has described Fitze as “a highly effective agitator that can get opponents off their game.” Fitze should add another layer of toughness to a team that looks to be making that their theme for the upcoming season.
The Mavericks have many more moves to make on the offensive end, but I’m happy with these three guys who are making their returns for 2020/21. They’re tough, skilled skaters who love the game of hockey and are going to bring it on a nightly basis. I’m excited to see the next steps the front office takes on the offensive end of the ice.