CINCINNATI, OH – We have now reached the point in the off-season where I’m afraid to look up from my phone. Officially marking the start of the 2016-2017 ECHL season, all 27 ECHL teams have revealed the list of up to eight players who have received qualifying offers.

The Cincinnati Cyclones have qualified the following eight players:

Defensemen (3): Andrew Blazek, Cody Carlson, and Brett Wysopal

Forwards (5): Zach Budish, Branden Gracel, Colin Mulvey, Joe Wilson, and Andrew Yogan

ECHL rules state that each team is only permitted to extend qualifying offers to a maximum of eight players. Of those eight, only four can be veterans (More than 260 games of professional experience).

Qualifying offers will remain open for acceptance until August 1st, at which point the offer becomes null and void, and the team may elect to continue negotiating a salary with the player or take no further action. The team will retain the rights to all non-veteran players who receive qualifying offers for one playing season. Players on open qualifying offers cannot be traded.

As you all know, Gracel and Carlson have both signed overseas for the upcoming season. They were qualified so Cincinnati held their ECHL rights in the event things don’t work out overseas and those two elect to come back and play in North America.

Any veteran player that is qualified; the team will retain their rights until the August 1st deadline, at which point the veteran will become a restricted free agent (RFA) and will be able to negotiate a contract with other ECHL teams if he is not signed to contract. RFA’s cannot be traded. When an RFA receives a contract offer from another ECHL team and the player wants to accept the offer, the restricted free agent and offering member must notify the ECHL, member team with the player’s right, and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association (PHPA), within 24 hours. The team with the player’s rights will then have seven days after the date it is notified to exercise their right to match the contract offer.

If a restricted free agent is not signed by any ECHL team by August 31st, he will then become an unrestricted free agent (UFA).

The Cyclones did not extend any qualifying offers to any veteran players so this will not apply to them on August 1st.

Keep in mind, players who had been signed to a standard player contract (SPC) by June 30th did not need to be given a qualifying offer. So names like Tommy Mele, Riley Weselowski, Andy Iles, etc; because they didn’t receive a qualifying offer, doesn’t necessarily mean they haven’t or won’t sign with the Cyclones.

As of now, in regards of player signings, I know coach Matt Macdonald has at least one player signed to an ECHL contract so be on the lookout for that name revealing in the near future.