After one season with the Utica Comets, two forwards have signed with new teams.
Borna Rendulic has signed to play with the Lahden Pelicans in the Finnish Elite League while Cody Kunyk has joined the Straubing Tigers, which plays in Germany’s top league, the DEL.
Rendulic, who was on an NHL deal with the Comets’ parent club the Vancouver Canucks, and Kunyk, who was signed to AHL deal, were free agents after the 2016-17 season. The moves involving both players were announced on each team’s respective website Friday.
The moves aren’t a surprise considering the abundance of players Vancouver has acquired recently through free agency, trades and the NHL draft. New Comets General Manager Ryan Johnson also recently told the Observer-Dispatch that the organization was likely done adding players this offseason with the exception of signing depth with ECHL Kalamazoo in the event of injuries and call-ups.
It won’t be the first time in Europe for either player. The 25-year-old Rendulic, who was born in Croatia, returns overseas after playing three seasons in North America mostly in the American Hockey League (163 games). He previously played for two other teams in the same league as Lahden.
The 27-year-old Kunyk played in Denmark during the 2015-16 season. In joining Straubing, Kunyk reunites with Comets teammate and New Hartford native Mike Zalewski, who signed with the team in July. Older brother Steven Zalewski is set to begin his third season with Straubing.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Rendulic got off to a slow start in his only season with the Comets. Rendulic, who also spent some time on the team’s power play unit, seemed to somewhat find his stride over the final two months totaling eight goals and seven assists. In 69 games with the Comets, he finished with 12 goals and 11 assists.
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Kunyk turned in his best season of his four-year pro career in playing 61 games for the Comets. After briefly starting the season in the ECHL, Kunyk gained the trust of Comets’ coaches and played a few key roles – especially on the power play. Kunyk, who missed some time near the end of the season with an injury, totaled a career-best 15 goals and 22 assists.
With the losses of Rendulic and Kunyk, the Comets are without six of the top 10 full-time players in points from last season. Alex Grenier and Curtis Valk signed with the Florida organization in the offseason while Colby Robak and Pascal Pelletier are unsigned. Those players accounted for 207 points (73 goals and 134 assists) last season.
Under new head coach Trent Cull, the Comets are set to begin their fifth regular-season Saturday, Oct. 7 at North Division foe Toronto. The teams also meet the next day in Toronto.