TOLEDO, OH – Over the past couple of weeks, the Toledo Walleye have certainly made a splash with their latest additions to the 2017-18 roster. In a move that caught fans by surprise around the league, the Walleye have brought back the 2014-15 Rookie of the Year, Tyler Barnes. Barnes is also joined by the heavy hitting forward Connor Crisp, and rising Toledo star defenseman Simon Denis.

It goes without saying that Toledo has had one of the most lethal offenses for the last few seasons, and now with the return of Barnes, Toledo would appear to be a juggernaut in the making. Barnes has been lethal to defenses while in the ECHL, with 162 points over 166 games. 74 points in one season is his career high, during his rookie season with Toledo, so the Walleye are hoping to see a repeat performance when Barnes takes the ice this season. No stranger to the playoffs, 42 games played and 30 points in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, Toledo has added a vital piece to make a deep run for the Cup.

Equally important to having the skill is having the muscle to back it up, as Toledo learned against Colorado last season. Crisp is yet another answer Walleye Head Coach Dan Watson has provided to solve the lack of size Toledo faced. The former Brampton Beast weighs in at 220 pounds, stands at 6′ 2″, and is ready to be the physical playmaker down in the corners and the slot for T-Town. Scoring 33 points in 43 ECHL games adds to his utility, although he may be seeing time in the AHL as he already has 63 games played between the Hamilton Bulldogs and St. John’s IceCaps.

Now, for Toledo’s newest fan favorite: Simon Denis. Denis made a name for himself during the regular season as one of the best two-way defenseman in the league, with 55 points scored and a +/- of 40. Those values were good for fourth and second in the league respectively among defensemen, or second and first for rookie defensemen last year. A class act on and off the ice, Denis shows a maturity and composure that is most often seen in vets. Although it’s hard to expect another stellar season, the blueliner will certainly be a vital piece to Toledo’s defensive core.

Simon Denis corrals a puck at the Huntington Center. Photo is the property of Diane Woodring, used with her permission.

Toledo fans should be excited as this roster takes shape, there are a lot of talented hockey players ready to propel the Walleye to another run at the Kelly Cup. Before we get ahead of ourselves though, Coach Watson still needs to shore up our defense, along with a few more additions to our forward core. Evan Rankin remains a question mark, and with the departure of Justin Agosta, the defense needs attention next. Keep your eyes peeled for future moves, and stay up to date on player signings across the ECHL by visiting our 2017 ECHL Transactions page.

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