Another pair of 20-year-old rookies from the Western Hockey League have signed with the Reign: Eric Doyle and Aaron Lewadniuk.
A 6-foot-2, 192-pound defenseman, Doyle comes to Ontario from the Portland (Ore.) Winterhawks, where he scored 21 points (three goals, 18 assists) in 35 games last season. He added a goal and eight points in 13 postseason games, second only to recent Nashville Predators draft pick Taylor Aronson among Portland defensemen (and more than former first-round NHL draft pick Luca Sbisa). In 2008-09, Doyle set career highs with 12 goals and 55 points in 71 games for the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos, both team highs among defensemen.
Lewadniuk was a teammate of former Kings draft pick Brayden Schenn with the Brandon Wheat Kings. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound center actually scored more goals than Schenn last season – 37 to 34 – albeit in six more games. Lewadniuk also totaled 49 assists, a total of 86 points in 65 games. Only three Wheat Kings had more points than Lewadniuk last season, and all (Schenn, Matt Calvert and Scott Glennie) have been drafted by NHL teams.
Although there are more contracts to be announced, it’s clear from his early signings that head coach Karl Taylor is intent on turning around an offense that has ranked last in the ECHL in goals scored each of its first two seasons. Four of them (Doyle, Lewadniuk, C.J. Stretch and Jon Francisco) are capable scorers while the fifth, stay-at-home defenseman Chad Starling, may be better than all of them in the shootout.