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I know, Thunder fans, you want news about player signings. All I can advise is patience. General manager Joel Lomurno said Monday morning that he expects a few player signings within a week. No more details available.
A few off-season tidbits:
Lomurno said that coach Brent Bilodeau has had "good discussions" with goaltender Tim Boron and forward Mike Batovanja. Boron's return could be a major move for the Thunder, provided he is healthy. Boron (2.59, .926) had surgery on both hips after the season ended. “Tim obviously wants to wait it out and see if there are any EHL tryout offers out there, but there is interest on both parties (Boron and the Thunder)," Lomurno said. "Obviously, it depends on how he's feeling. The surgery went well and the rehab's going well." Batovanja started the season as team captain but was injured in the season opener.
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Lomurno also said that the team is working to re-sign some "core" players: Marc Belanger (10 goals in 19 games); Troy Ofukany (36 points in 62 games); and Joel Hanson (33 points in 39 games). Lomurno said the team is waiting to see how veteran Jason Duda (team-high 55 points) recovers from a back injury. "Obviously, he's a guy that wants to come back; he wants to play in the new arena," Lomurno said. "A healthy Jason Duda would be an asset to us."
The Thunder has hired Ernie Wells, Bryan's father, to work as a scout in the Western Hockey League and the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. Wells has good connections in the area, Lomurno said. "He's got an in with the good young players up there," Lomurno said. "If there's a guy we really want, instead of just calling him, Ernie's a guy we can send to meet him face to face."
League honors were awarded at the annual summer meetings. The Thunder won "group sales franchise of the year" for the first time. "Group sales make or break your franchise," general manager Joel Lomurno said. "It's definitely one of the more coveted awards. ... Next year, group sales will be a little easier. We'll have many more options we can offer in the new building." Joe Greene, no longer with the Thunder, gets much of the credit for the honor. He has bee replaced by Jeremy Mock as director of group sales. Assistant GM Sally Knofflock was runner-up for the "merchandiser of the year" award.