For weeks, the South Carolina Stingrays were without a head coach or a President of Hockey Operations when Spencer Carbery announced he would join the Saginaw Spirit as head coach. Today, they remedied that by promoting assistant coach Ryan Warsofsky to head coach.
Promoting Warsofsky to head coach does not solve the most pressing issue facing the Lowcountry: replacing players lost to Europe. Six of the Stingrays from last season — Stephan Vigier, Brett Cameron, Spencer Humphries, Brendan Ellis, Nick Jones, and Jared Staal — have signed deals with various European clubs.
Vigier was South Carolina’s second-leading scorer with 50 points (24 goals, 26 assists). Cameron was not too far behind with 48 points (21 goals, 28 assists). Both will join Norwegian club Lillehammer.
Jones will also go to the land of fjords, playing for Stjeren Hockey, based in Fredrikstad, Norway. The defenseman will join a team that was almost relegated in 2013-14, but stayed up in the top league thanks to their first place finish in qualifying. Stjeren has lost in the Quarterfinals each of their last five playoff appearances.
Humphries joined the Rays late in the season; he started the year with the Evansville IceMen and played 54 games with them. He was occasionally scratched during South Carolina’s run in the playoffs. Reigning Norwegian GET-ligaen champion, the Stavanger Oilers, signed Humphries to a contract.
Ellis only played 49 games this season after sitting out the 2014-15 season due to injury, earning six goals and 19 assists. The Merrimack College graduate will join HC Gherdeina valgarden.it of the Alps Hockey League in Italy.
Staal, the youngest of the four Staal brothers and the only one not in the NHL regularly, signed a deal with the Edinbrugh Capitals of the Elite Ice Hockey League. These Capitals finished 10th of the 10 team league with a 10-37-0-5 (W-L-T-OTL) record.
The Rays extended qualifying offers to eight skaters, Cameron and Vigier among them, all of whom have not signed. Derek DeBlois, Joe Devin, Marcus Perrier, Wade Epp, Colton Saucerman, and Steve Wienstein all still have their qualifying offers active.
With the addition of a head coach, free agency signings can officially begin.