While still basking in the glow of their magical inaugural season, the Missouri Mavericks have already started to put the pieces together to take the next step. Over the past two weeks, the Mavericks have signed (or re-signed in some cases) a total of six players for the 2010-2011 season. Here is a breakdown of these players, and what they will bring to the Mavericks on and off the ice:
Mike Wakita - Defenseman - 6'2" 215lbs
- Wakita will be playing in his first professional season with the Mavericks. His bigger stature will hopefully result in more physical play from the Missouri defensive unit, an area that was lacking last season. Although he will be a rookie, he does bring good experience with him. Wakita played college puck at Union College. Prior to his collegiate career, Wakita was the captain of the Powell River Kings of the British Columbia Hockey League, where he was named the 2006 Coastal Conference Defenseman of the Year.
Chris Mifflen - Defenseman - 6'3" 195lbs
- Mifflen will also be entering his first full year of professional hockey, however he was added to the Mavericks roster last season for the postseason run as an amateur player. Mifflen also has decent size, and his long frame will help win battles in the corners. Prior to signing with the Mavericks, Mifflen played three years in the Ontario Hockey League, and one year at Carelton University.
Olivier Filion - Forward - 5'10" 195lbs
- Besides being the preseason favorite of the Coolest Hockey Name Award, Filion will add a great deal of leadership on and off the ice, as well as additional potency to the Mavericks on the offensive side of the puck. Filion played the previous two seasons with the Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL, where he amassed 95 points in 132 games. Filion will be one of the four allotted veterans on the Mavericks roster.
Toby LaFrance - Forward - 5'9" 190lbs
- LaFrance joined the Mavericks in February of 2010, and was vital to their postseason run. Toby tallied 20 points in his 21 games, and became a fan favorite due to his electric style of play (and his sweet mohawk). LaFrance proved to be dangerous every time he had the puck on his stick, and he should put up great numbers with a full slate of games this season.
Bill Vandermeer - Forward - 5'11" 180lbs
- Vandermeer is also a returning member for last year's team, and will be playing in his sixth professional season. Although he battled injuries for the majority of last season, Vandermeer has shown that he has the ability to be one of the best all-around forwards in the CHL. Vandermeer put his talent on display during the 2010 playoffs, proving to be a one-man wrecking crew, essentially carrying the Mavericks on his back. He is a natural finisher, and has the ability to find the back of the net from any angle. If he can stay healthy, expect big things from "Billy."
Carlyle Lewis - Forward - 6'3" 235lbs
- The captain of the Mavericks will return for his 12th professional season. Carlyle was named captain after Tyler Fleck was traded to the Tulsa Oilers, and Lewis did not disappoint. Although he did not put up great statistical numbers (13 points and a -21 rating in 67 games), he quickly became a fan-favorite, which most enforcers tend to be. His rough and rugged style of play won the hearts of Mavericks fans far and wide, and the respect that he commands on the ice and in the locker room won his teammates over. This was a "no-brainer" for Mavericks coach Scott Hillman. A great team needs great leadership, and that is exactly what Lewis provides. The (re)signing of Lewis means that two of the four allotted veteran spots have now been filled.
Overall, the Mavericks have made solid moves that will help them be a better team for the upcoming season. However, there was a lot of turnover with the roster last year, which is something Hillman does not like. He has already proved to be a great judge of talent, and hopefully these six players will not disappoint, and will become vital cogs for the upcoming season.