After a week of training camp and some difficult decisions, Gwinnett Gladiators head coach Jeff Pyle doesn’t foresee more changes to his roster.
He’s got 21 guys and is happy with them.
“I think it’s pretty well set,” Pyle said Monday, the lone off day for the players during camp. “It’s a good group of kids and the older guys look really good from the standpoint of effort.
“Bottom line, I really like what we’ve got. They’re fun to coach and I haven’t had that type of fun coaching the last couple years.”
The roster took firm shape Sunday with a trade and the release of several players.
Pyle dealt J.P. Chabot to Bakersfield in exchange for Dan Kissel, who was in training camp with Gwinnett’s AHL affiliate in Chicago. Kissel, a native of the Windy City, played 20 games for Bakersfield last season after finishing his college career at Notre Dame.
Pyle said Kissel asked to be left a free agent after the stint, but Bakersfield protected his rights. So a trade was necessary in order for the 23-year-old to play for another ECHL team.
“Chicago wanted him to come to us,” Pyle said. “He had a really good camp in Chicago. They really liked him. This is one that just kind of fell in my lap.”
Pyle gave Bakersfield a few options and Chabot was who the team wanted. Pyle liked the young centerman, but had to give up something in order to get something.
“J.P. was pretty solid and good on face-offs,” Pyle said. “But I think we’ve got another guy that fits our speed and skill (with Kissel).”
Kissel had eight points, including seven goals, in Bakersfield’s final 11 games of the regular season. He also added four points in nine playoff games.
In addition to the trade Sunday, Pyle released four players — Mike Looby, Sean Hurley, Justin Milo and Drew Akins. All but Looby were contracted players Pyle signed during the summer.
“Milo played well for me and I hated to give Hurls up,” Pyle said. “But I’m keeping eight ‘D.’”
Hurley played for Gwinnett last season and came on strong at the end of the season. He helped out a great deal, jumping up to forward from his traditional defensive position, and was the second player Pyle signed during the offseason.
Pyle said if the situation works out, one or more of those players could come back to the team.
“Hurley looked really good,” Pyle said. “But I told him, ‘You’re 27 and you don’t need to be sitting out.’”
He suggested the Brown University product think about playing in the SPHL and getting as much ice time as possible, rather than perhaps bouncing around in the CHL or going overseas.
“I told the two guys that had a good chance of coming back if they’re playing all the time, it’ll get their confidence up,” Pyle said. “The same thing happened to me (in junior hockey) and it was maybe the best thing for my career.”