MANCHESTER, N.H. – When David Kolomatis first joined the Manchester Monarchs, things were a lot different. The year was 2009, the league was the AHL, and the color scheme was a bit more purple. After three years with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack (and a cup of coffee with the Providence Bruins,) the young defender cracked the AHL, joining a defensive squad populated by future stars like Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez. Despite his inexperience, he established himself early and ended up playing in all but three games in his rookie season, scoring 29 points in the process, and appearing in 15 of 16 games in the playoffs. Barring a two-year stretch away from Manchester, he has been a starter in the organization ever since.

The 2017-18 season will mark the seventh season in “the Jungle” for the New Jersey native, and his third as team captain. In his AHL career, the man known as “DK” tallied 37 goals and 107 assists in the regular season, with seven points in 46 postseason games with the team, the most postseason appearances for any player in team history. In his seventh campaign with the Monarchs, Kolomatis looks like a lock to take the top spot for all-time assists, needing only two to pass Gabe Gauthier‘s 122, and also will likely enter the top five all-time in points, being only six points behind the current fifth-place inhabitant, Mike Cammalleri.

At 28 years old, Kolomatis is beginning to hit his stride after a season which saw him put up a career-high 35 points, and experience the deepest playoff run of his career by playing in all 19 games of last year’s Conference Finals run. He also finds himself as somewhat of an elder statesman, as this year he is joined by relative youngsters like Rob Hamilton and Eric Schurhamer on the blue line. They’ll be looking to the captain for his experience and leadership.

With many questions still unanswered, many key players from last year’s squad (such as starting goalie Sam Brittain and, most recently, 18 goal-scorer Quentin Shore) having departed, leaving many holes to fill. It should be somewhat reassuring to fans that at least one piece of last year’s successful squad is firmly in place.

Speaking of that team, another returnee is left winger Kevin Morris. The 16-goal scorer and son of former Monarchs head coach Mark Morris was announced as the most recent signing to the team on September 25, making this the third straight year that he will appear in silver-and-black. The forward appeared in 66 games during the previous campaign, contributing 36 points in that time. The Miami University graduate has spent four games in the AHL in the past two years, as well, and looks to make the leap again with another solid performance for the Monarchs.

Opening day draws ever closer, with less than two weeks remaining before the October 14 showdown with future rivals, the Worcester Railers. With training camps starting all over the continent, it stands to reason that the Monarchs’ roster will fill out with contributions from above, but the Monarchs’ front office still has some work to do, particularly between the pipes.