The Utica Comets continue to bolster their depth after a season that saw them rack up the PTO contracts as the club announced today that they have signed forward Reid Gardiner to a one-year AHL pact.
Comets sign forward @reidgardiner19 to a one-year AHL deal.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) July 12, 2018
I thought that Gardiner’s name sounded familiar and it turned out that I had indeed heard it before. That is Gardiner in the middle of the featured image from the Canucks Young Stars Tournament back in 2015. Yes, that is also a young Ben Hutton wearing number 60.
The 22-year-old Gardiner is a 5-foot-11, 185lbs, undrafted right-shot, right-winger from Saskatchewan. He spent four years with the WHL Prince Albert Raiders before getting a 23 game audition with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL in the 2016/17 season. During this stint with the Penguins, Gardiner picked up three goals and three assists to give him six points. He also spent 28 games with the Kelowna Rockets in 2016/17.
In all, Gardiner appeared in 290 WHL contests, collecting 124 goals and 133 helpers to give him 257 points.
Gardiner split last season between the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, playing 58 games for the former and 10 for the latter. He added a goal and three assists while with the Pens to bring his AHL totals to nine points in 33 games. For the Nailers, he piled up 30 goals and 27 assists to give him 57 points in his 58 games.
Interesting note, Gardiner also played one game for the Humbolt Broncos in the 2010/2011 season where he picked up an assist.
Gardiner appears to be another player brought in who is in possession of a high hockey IQ and a strong 200-foot game which seems to fit the mould of what the Comets want from their players going forward.
I personally really like this tactic of identifying players that the team sees as fits for depth, getting them under contract and having them at the ready in Kalamazoo. The parent Canucks are no strangers to injuries and neither are the Comets. Organizational depth is paramount to success and between Vancouver and Utica there appears to be a mandate to make sure that there is plenty of it.
Bringing back a former camp invitee and signing him to a deal also looks good on the organization. It shows future would be invitees that the team doesn’t stop keeping tabs on them after one camp. Moves like this should also hopefully help make Vancouver camps that much more attractive to players looking for a shot of their own.
Stay tuned as the offseason continues and the depth players continue to be added.