Alex Foster prepares to take a shot on goal during a Toledo Walleye training camp practice. Foster was let go by the team today. BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
The Walleye made two roster moves on Wednesday leading up to the deadline to submit the regular-season roster to the ECHL.
The team signed forward Darian Dziurzynski, a 26-year-old who has played three seasons in the American Hockey League. The Walleye also released veteran forward Alex Foster, a 33-year-old who had played at Bowling Green State University.
Dziurzynski, a native of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, played in Europe last season. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound physical forward has played in 181 games in the AHL and 61 in the ECHL.
Foster, who played at BGSU from 2004-06, has spent the last six seasons playing in Europe. The native of Canton, Mich. has appeared in 312 AHL games over six seasons.
Walleye coach Dan Watson said Foster's release was strictly a business decision. The ECHL allows teams to have only four veterans (players with 260 or more pro games played) on the roster at one time. Toledo's four veterans are forwards Alden Hirschfeld, A.J. Jenks, and Kyle Bonis and defenseman Beau Schmitz. All four have played for Toledo in previous seasons.
“[Foster] is an unbelievable human being, which is the toughest part,” Watson said. “When I recruited him I wanted him to be a big part of it, so I feel bad for him. It's not personal. He had a good camp, but I'm sticking with the guys who have helped us win the last three years.”
Watson submitted his 23-man roster to the ECHL on Wednesday. ECHL teams can carry a maximum of 21 players for the first 30 days of the regular season on their active roster (not counting players on reserve or injured reserve). Schmitz, who suffered a lower body injury in a recent practice, will start on the 21-day IR.
Toledo will start the season with two goalies, nine defensemen, and 12 forwards. The team held its final preseason practice at the Huntington Center on Wednesday morning.
“We finally had a full day of practice with all our players here,” Watson said. “It was nice.”
Three players who were reassigned to the Walleye on Tuesday — forward Zach Nastasiuk and defensemen Vili Saarijarvi and Patrick McCarron — were on the ice for the first time.
Rookie goaltender Matej Machovsky, a highly regarded Red Wings prospect, skated for the first time on his new home ice.
“This is an unreal rink,” he said. “I heard the fans are unreal too, so I'm looking forward to the season starting. I want to win games. That's all that matters.”
The Walleye open the season at Quad City on Friday.
“Now we'll get out of here and get the guys together,” Watson said. “Getting them on the road is the best time to learn about each other. You're forced to be in the hotel and locker room with each other, so I'm excited to see what this group has and start it on the road and see if we can build something special here.”