The Wichita Thunder announced their season-ending 20-man roster on Tuesday. The roster announcement allows Thunder management to protect up to eight players. Of the eight protected, no more than four can be veterans (260 professional games played as of 2015-16 season.)
Here is the roster breakdown, along with games played through the 2014-15 season:
Goaltenders (do NOT count against veteran limit:) Tim Boron and Grant Rollheiser
Defensemen: *Mike Wilson 432 GP
Mike MacIntyre 164 GP
Michael Trebish 193 GP
Dalton Reum 78 GP
*Theo Peckham 382 GP
Forwards: *Ian Lowe 267 GP
Jared Walker 182 GP
*RG Flath 479 GP
Todd Hosmer 166 GP
*Erick Lizon 492 GP
*Garrett Klotz 337 GP
Kenton Miller 182 GP
Michael Dorr 104 GP
Kurtis Bartliff 98 GP
Justin Bernhardt 167 GP
Ian Duval 40 GP
*Nikita Kashirsky 346 GP
Stephen Schultz 206 GP
*=> Veteran designation for the 2015-16 season
Missing from this list is defensemen Kirill Tulupov, whose rights were traded to the Orlando Solar Bears then to the Rapid City Rush, which completed a January trade for Nick Larson, who did not report to the team. The rights to former Thunder defensemen Eric Meland were sent to the Gwinnett Gladiators to complete a trade for forward Anthony Perdicaro, who retired during the season. Meland has signed to play in Norway for the upcoming season.
Names not appearing on the season-ending roster include Dan Milan and Danick Gauthier, who were assigned to the Thunder by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Qualifying offers must be made by July 1st. Of the maximum eight Qualifying Offers, no more than four can be Veterans. To be considered a vet, the player must appear in 260 or more professional games. Of the 20 players on the list, at the start of the 2015-2016 season, Mike Wilson, Ian Lowe, RG Flath, Erick Lizon, Garrett Klotz and Theo Peckham will be vets. Lizon has signed to play in the EIHL for the upcoming season, while Peckham is not expected to be back with the team.
Qualifying offers have until August 1st to be accepted. After that deadline, the offer is voided and the team can either sign the player to a contract or choose to do nothing. Aside from the vets, any other player the Thunder extend a qualifying offer to, the team will retain their rights for one playing season. However, in the case of the four vets listed, after August 1st, they will become restricted free agents. If a restricted free agent receives a contract offer from another team, the player and the offering team must notify the ECHL, players association, and the team with the player’s rights within 24 hours. The team with the player’s rights will then be granted one full week to attempt to match the offer.
Here is who I would give a qualifying offer to:
Goaltenders: Tim Boron and Grant Rollheiser
Defensemen: Michael Trebish and Mike Wilson (V)
Forwards: Ian Lowe (V), Todd Hosmer, Kenton Miller and Justin Bernhardt
Protecting these players gives Head Coach Kevin McClelland a solid core of players who provided offense, grit, and goaltending last season.
One of the hot topics surrounding the team this offseason is whether or not the team would become an ECHL affiliate to an NHL team. As of today, the team has not entered into an affiliation agreement. We’ll let you speculate about which teams might be the best fit for an affiliation with the Thunder.
Stay tuned and we will keep you updated on the happenings with the Thunder throughout the summer!