Kalamazoo, Mich. – The Kalamazoo Wings, proud member of the ECHL, two-time defending North Division Champions and reigning Eastern Conference Champions and affiliate of the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders and American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers, announce the signings of forwards Trent Daavettila, Kory Karlander, Justin Taylor and defenseman Sam Ftorek.
Returning to Kalamazoo for his third full season with the K-Wings, Daavettila tied for the team-lead in scoring last season with 80 points (32g-48a). The native of Howell, Mich. continued his scoring prowess in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, recording a league-high 28 points, which includes a league-best 22 assists. Named to the ECHL’s All Second-Team, Daavettila tied for the league-lead in plus/minus with a robust plus-28.
The second half of the K-Wings dynamic scoring duo is also slated to return with the signing of Karlander. Like Daavettila, Karlander recorded 80 points (34g-46a) to share the team-lead in scoring. The elder statesmen of the ECHL was named to the league’s All First-Team. No stranger to Wings Stadium, Karlander returns to Kalamazoo, where he has played six of his previous 16 professional seasons. Earning milestones last season recording his 800th career point on Feb. 5 versus the South Carolina Stingrays and his 500th career assist on April 2 versus the Elmira Jackals, Karlander is closing in on another huge milestone. Karlander has a unique status as the only K-Wings player to represent the organization in every league Kalamazoo has participated in, including the original IHL.
After a strong showing in the Kelly Cup Playoffs capped off a stellar rookie campaign, Taylor returns to Kalamazoo. Named the K-Wings’ Rookie of the Year a season ago, Taylor was nearly a point-a-night player registering 46 points (25g-21a) in 48 games for Kalamazoo. In the playoffs, Taylor led all ECHL rookies in scoring with 14 points, including nine goals, which led all ECHL players. Taylor also played in 14 games last season in the American Hockey League with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Before turning pro, the former sixth round selection (180th overall) of the Washington Capitals in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, was a member of the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
Continuing a rich hockey resume, Ftorek returns for his third season with the K-Wings. The 14-year veteran has worn a letter in each of his two seasons in Kalamazoo and helped the K-Wings capture back-to-back North Division titles. Ftorek recorded his 500th career point last season on Dec. 6 against the South Carolina Stingrays on a shorthanded goal. Just over a month later, Ftorek recorded his 300th career assist on Jan. 29 versus the Gwinnett Gladiators. Stepping up his game in the playoffs, Ftorek led all ECHL defensemen in playoff scoring in points (21), goals (7) and assists (14).
Coming from an excellent pedigree, Ftorek is the son of Robbie Ftorek, who played eight seasons in the National Hockey League with the Detroit Red Wings Quebec Nordiques and New York Rangers. The elder Ftorek also possesses an impressive coaching resume with 21 years experience, 10 of which was in the NHL.