On Wednesday afternoon, the Cyclones, along with the other 27 ECHL teams, extended Qualifying Offers to the players of their choosing. In case you need a refresher, the maximum number of players a team can extend a qualifying offer to is 8. Of the 8 slots, only 4 can be Vets. To be considered a vet in the ECHL, the player has to have appeared in 260 or more professional hockey games. A qualifying offer is open for acceptance until August 1st, at which point it becomes pretty much nothing, and the team can elect to take no further action. However, for vets, after August 1st, they become restricted free agents and are open to contract offers from other ECHL teams. All Non-vets who receive qualifying offers’ rights are protected by the team for one playing season.

Now that the boring part is over, here’s the list of players who received Qualifying Offers from the Cyclones and their numbers from the 2014-2015 season:

F – Jack Downing – 16 games played (10 goals, 5 assists, 15 points)
F – Branden Gracel – 52 games played (11 goals, 15 assists, 26 points)
F – Garrick Perry – 14 games played (2 goals, 2 points)
F – Geoff Irwin – 66 games played (16 goals, 15 assists, 31 points)
D – Brett Wysopal – 28 games played (14 assists, 14 points)
D – Michael Quinn – 35 games played (1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points)

Overall, I’m very pleased with this list. Wysopal was one of, if not the best defenseman for this Cincinnati team last season. Irwin was the “silent leader” as the unsung hero. As the result of an early season trade with the Allen Americans, Irwin came into Cincinnati, a little slow at first, but towards the end, he was hot. He also served as an Assistant Captain for the Cyclones after the departure of Brian Nugent. Downing and Gracel were also the Cyclones best offensive weapons. A pre trade deadline move with Missouri sent Downing to Cincinnati, where he became a point-per-game guy and was that missing spark the Cincinnati needed. For a rookie, Gracel impressed many and was awarded the Cyclones “Rookie of the Year”. The only one I’m not so sure on is Quinn. To put it nicely, he didn’t really do a whole lot, he was just sort of there.

Now onto the exciting news of the day as the Cyclones announced their first two player signings of the 2015-2016 season. For the second straight season, Cincinnati native, Christiaan Minella, and Nick Huard will be sporting Cyclone uniforms.

Minella wasn’t much as offense goes only totaling 9 goals and 10 assists for 19 points in 64 games. However, he was the physical presence on the ice that I enjoyed watching and am glad I get to continue watching. Huard was a rookie fresh out of the University of Guelph and unlike most rookies, he instantly “got it”. Huard would tally 3 goals, and 3 assists for 6 points in his first 13 professional games. I fully expect him to be a huge offensive weapon and am very happy to see him return to the Queen City.

And that’s not all! At last check, there are currently 3 players signed on to be in Cincinnati this season. Who is he? No one knows. You’ll have to be on the lookout for the next yet-to-be named Cyclone in the near future. Don’t you love cliff hangers? Don’t you want to punch me in the face for leading you on like that? Yeah, you probably do.

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