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READING, Pa. – The 2018-19 offseason has been a busy one for Reading Royals head coach Kirk MacDonald, who is about to embark on his second full season behind the bench. In this article, we’ll break down the players who have been announced so far, look at players from last year’s team that have moved on, and who from the Royals’ 2017-18 roster is still out on the market.

Announced Players:

Adam Schmidt – The Warrington, PA native was the first player to re-sign with the Royals for the 2018-19 season, which will be his second season as a Royal. Last year, Schmidt played in appearing in 58 games and contributing 44 points (17G, 27A). He quickly became a fan favorite and it’ll be interesting to see if he becomes one of the team’s alternate captains this season.

Jack Riley – Five days after re-signing Schmidt, the Royals brought back another forward from last year’s team in Jack Riley. Last year, the former Mercyhurst captain signed a tryout deal with the Royals and played in five games and put five points including netting his professional goal in the final weekend of the regular season against the Norfolk Admirals.

Charlie Vasaturo – After signing two forwards, the signing announcements shifted to the back end. The first defensive signing announcement for the Royals was the return of d-man Charlie Vasaturo. The former college teammate of Shayne Gostisbehere will be returning to Reading for his first full season after being acquired from the Kalamazoo Wings for future considerations. While his time in Reading was brief, only eight games, he was someone that helped everyone around him and could be called upon in end-of-game situations.

Nick Neville – The second defenseman brought back for the 18-19 season was Nick Neville. Like Vasaturo, the Royals acquired Nick in a trade midseason from the South Carolina Stingrays for future considerations. The stay-at-home defenseman appeared in 36 games with Reading and was one of the players that steadily improved throughout the season. According to Neville, coming to Reading was the best thing that has happened to him during his career and having back on the blue line will be a nice addition.

Adam Larkin – Another player returning for his first full season as a Royal is Adam Larkin. Larkin was claimed off waivers near the end of the season after being cut by the Adirondack Thunder. The cousin of Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin, Adam only suited up in nine professional games, with two of those coming with the Royals during the final weekend of the regular season.

Frankie DiChiara – The first new player sign with the Royals for the upcoming season is Frankie DiChiara. The former college teammate of Adam Larkin spent his first professional season with the Worcester Railers, appearing in 62 games and putting up 23 points (9G, 14A). At 6-foot-2, DiChiara brings some much-needed size to the Royals forward group, which is something the team has lacked over the years.

Bo Pieper – Another new player signed by Kirk was rookie forward Bo Pieper, who joins the Royals after his college hockey days at Quinnipiac University. During his four-year collegiate career, he put up 65 points (32 G, 33 A) in 165 games and was named the 2018 ECAC Men’s Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year. In late March, Pieper signed with the Adirondack Thunder and appeared in three games but was unable to find the score sheet.

Dan Milan – No stranger to Royals fans, Dan Milan spent last year with the Wheeling Nailers. Milan is one player that will rack up the penalty minutes, putting up over 100 PIMs in four of the last five seasons. With 313 career ECHL games under his belt, Milan brings some experience to the Royals blue line which could be beneficial with all the young guys back there so far.

Where Are They Now?

Let’s take a look at players from last season and where they have moved on to.

Goaltending

  • John Muse signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins and will either be with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins or the Wheeling Nailers.

Forwards

  • At the end of last season, the team’s leading scorer Matt Willows decided to hang up the skates and retire at the age of 27.
  • Scott Tanski went overseas and signed the Glasgow Clan of the EIHL in Glasgow, Scotland.
  • Ryan Pennys ECHL rights were traded to the Kalamazoo Wings to complete the Charlie Vasaturo deal. (still a free agent)
  • Mark Bennett’s ECHL rights were traded to the Orlando Solar Bears to complete the Matias Cleland deal. A month after being traded to Orlando, Bennett signed overseas with Fehervari Titanok in Szekesfehervar, Hungary.
  • Michael Huntebrinker got an AHL deal with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Expect Huntebrinker to be sent to Reading thanks to the logjam of forwards in Lehigh Valley.
  • Alex Krushelynski re-signed with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Krushelynski split time between the Royals and Phantoms last season and scored the game-winning goal in the AHL’s longest game in early May.
  • Viktor Liljegren signed overseas with Karlskrona, HK in Karlskrona, Sweden.

Defensemen

  • After losing their leading scoring forward to retirement the Royals lost their leading scoring defenseman Nolan Zajac to Europe. Along with Willows, Zajac played in all 72 regular season games with Reading last season and is now a member of IK Oskarshamn in Oskarshamn, Sweden.
  • Chase Golighty’s ECHL rights were traded to the Brampton Beast to complete the Colin Martin trade.
  • Matias Cleland signed with one of the new ECHL teams the Maine Mariners
  • Frank Hora re-signed an AHL deal with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Hora spent most of last year with Reading and expect him to split time between the two affiliates this season.
  • James de Haas is on year two of a two-year deal with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Along with losing these players, the Royals lost assistant coach Patrick Wellar to the AHL, where he will join former South Carolina Stingrays head coach Spencer Carbery on the Hershey bench. Wellar is no stranger to Bears fans, having played in Chocolate City for six seasons and winning back-to-back Calder Cups in 2009 and 2010.

Who’s Still Out There?

Let’s take a gander at which members of the 2017-18 Royals roster are still free agents.

Forwards: Tyler Brown, Dillan Fox, Chris McCarthy, Brian Morgan, Steven Swavely, Derek Whitmore, and Matt Wilkins.

Defensemen: Stephen Johnson and Nick Luukko

Goaltender: Mark Dekanich and Branden Komm

Stay caught up on all the signings and transactions from across the ECHL with our 2018 Transactions page. You can check that out, here: https://thesinbin.net/2018-echl-transactions/

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