ALLEN, TX – With the official start of the hockey season upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to go over some of the ECHL roster rules, Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) rules and other changes for the upcoming season as well as a few items of general interest. There is nothing new in this post as you can find this information elsewhere, but I get many questions about these topics so I have tried to put a lot of information in one place. You can bookmark this post and have a reference for use throughout the season.

– During the off-season, each team can sign up to 30 players for training camp. Training camp rosters were due to the league office on September 29 (3:00 p.m. ET).  The training camp rosters must be trimmed down and officially submitted to the league office for the start of the regular season by the opening day roster deadline, which is today, Wednesday, October 11th (3:00 p.m. ET).

– During the season, each team can maintain an active roster of 20 players, with 18 (16 skaters and two goalies) dressing for each game. (The active roster maximum is 21 for the first 30 days of the regular season). Teams can place up to two additional players on a reserve list, and an unlimited number of players on 21-day injured reserve. Players can be moved back and forth from the active roster to the two-person reserve at the team’s discretion but if a player’s salary is changed when they are put on reserve the player must sit out at least one game.

– Each team is limited to a total of 52 salary changes during the season. Salary changes are one way to manage the salary cap. If a player is signed for $800 per week they may be willing to take $1000 for a week when the team has extra salary cap money and $600 another week if the team is short salary cap money. A few years ago when the ECHL allowed unlimited salary changes this tool was used a lot by some teams. Now with just 52 salary changes teams have to be much more judicious.

– The “veteran limit” is four skaters on the active roster at any time, with goaltenders exempted. A “veteran” is defined as a player who has played 260 or more regular season professional games at the start of the season. Any AA or above league in North America counts toward the 260 games along with top leagues in Europe from the following countries:   Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden & Switzerland. Note the limit is four veterans on the “active” roster so a team could carry more than four veterans and rotate them on and off the reserve list.

Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)

– The salary cap and player salary rules are outlined in the ECHL’s  CBA with the Professional Hockey Players’ Association (PHPA), which is a 5-year contract that began with the 2013-14 season and is valid through the end of the 2017-18 season. Note this will be the last year of the current CBA so a new CBA will have to be negotiated prior to the start of next season.

– The 2017-18 salary cap is $12,800 per week per team. That is $200 more per week than last season. For the first 30 days of the season, due to the added roster spot explained above, the cap is $13,260 per week. So if a team has a full roster of 20 players the average player salary is $640 per week with a few elite veteran players making over $1000 per week.

– The CBA also has a minimum weekly salary cap which this season is $9,700. This is a nonissue for  teams as they all are well above the minimum and most are at the maximum salary cap.

– Here is some of the weekly salary information from the CBA.
$540 – Maximum rookie salary (rookie is a player with fewer than 25 professional games)
$460 – Minimum rookie salary
$500 – Minimum salary for all other players

– Housing and health insurance are provided by the teams. Married players get their own apartment while single players share. If you were wondering what must be provided with the apartments, here is the wording from the CBA. “Furnished apartments shall include paid electricity, water, sewer, gas, trash, and, at the Member’s (Team’s) option, may include basic cable, local phone service, and/or internet service. At a minimum, furnishings shall include: in the bedroom, bed and dresser; in the living room, couch and chair; in the kitchen, table and chairs, refrigerator and stove; and adequate lighting in all rooms, and may include, at the Member’s option, a television.”

– Some meals are provided by the teams, and players are also paid a daily meal allowance while on the road. The 2017-18 road trip “per diem” allowance is $42 per day the same as last season. This is broken down with $9 for breakfast, $12 for lunch and $21 for dinner if the team is not in travel status for a full day.

– When a player is sent to the ECHL by an NHL or AHL team, the player is still paid his NHL/AHL contracted salary while assigned to the ECHL. Whatever the salary, it is paid by the team to whom the player is contracted. The ECHL team then reimburses the NHL/AHL team $525 per week and all the player is charged against the salary cap is the $525. This is why getting a player assigned from the NHL/AHL is a great help from a salary cap standpoint.

RULE CHANGES

– There are no major rule changes this season. Because the ECHL is a development league for the AHL & NHL the ECHL tries to follow the lead of the NHL on changes. Here is the video put out by the NHL going through changes and areas of emphasis. The first rule change is there will be no time out allowed for the defensive team following an icing. The ECHL has already implemented this rule so no change here. The second rule change is related to high sticking the puck and the location of the faceoff. The ECHL will be adopting this new interpretation. The third NHL rule change relates to coach’s challenge and that will obviously not be adopted by the ECHL as they just started to experiment with instant replay in some preseason games. The part of this video that will have the biggest impact on the ECHL is a stricter enforcement of the slashing rule. Each year teams lose players with broken fingers as a result of slashes and an injury of this type can be 4-6 weeks on the injured reserve. This video has several examples of what will be called a slash this season that may have been let go in the past. This isn’t a rule change but an emphasis of an existing rule. It may cause some defensemen, in particular, to change how they play. Another area that will be more strictly enforced this season is on faceoffs, specifically the markings inside the faceoff circle. In the past, players were allowed to have their skates over or touching the ice markings. That won’t be allowed this season. This will definitely impact the centers on the team and their approach to faceoffs. Finally, a couple of equipment reminders in the video including the prohibition of tucking the jersey into the pants and a reminder on visors. So take a look at this video as it does a great job of going through all of the rule changes and areas of emphasis. The coaches have been told the ECHL will be following the NHL lead on these changes and areas of emphasis.

TEAM CHANGES

There are several team changes for the 2017-18 season. The Alaska Aces and Elmira Jackals ceased operations. The Jacksonville Icemen, who were the Evansville Icemen, rejoined the league after a one year hiatus. The Worcester Railers were added to the ECHL as an expansion team. Finally, the Missouri Mavericks were renamed the Kansas City Mavericks. These changes required a divisional realignment.

NEW DIVISION ALIGNMENTS

Eastern Conference
North Division:
 Adirondack Thunder, Brampton Beast, Manchester Monarchs, Reading Royals, Wheeling Nailers, Worcester Railers

South Division: 
Atlanta Gladiators, Florida Everblades, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, Jacksonville Icemen, Norfolk Admirals, Orlando Solar Bears, South Carolina Stingrays
Western Conference

Central Division
: Cincinnati Cyclones, Fort Wayne Komets, Indy Fuel, Kalamazoo Wings, Kansas City Mavericks, Quad City Mallards, Toledo Walleye
Mountain Division
: Allen Americans, Colorado Eagles, Idaho Steelheads, Rapid City Rush, Tulsa Oilers, Utah Grizzlies, Wichita Thunder

PLAYOFFS

The qualification rules for the playoffs remain the same as last season. The first two rounds of the Kelly Cup playoffs will be played entirely within the division. The division regular season winner plays the fourth place finisher and the second place team plays the third-place team in the first round (Division Semifinals). The winner of each series meet in the division finals, leading to the conference finals and the Kelly Cup Finals. All playoff series will be best of seven.

It is a long way off but the tiebreakers, if teams are tied for playoff positions at the end of the season, are long and complicated with eight possible steps. The eighth step is a coin toss. The first two tiebreakers are the most important. The first tiebreaker is regular season wins (excluding shootout wins) and the second is goal differential.

ECHL CRITICAL DATES

OCTOBER 2017
11 – Opening-Day Rosters due to League Office (3 p.m. ET)
13 – 30th ECHL regular season begins

NOVEMBER 2017
1 – Deadline for submission of ECHL Hall of Fame candidates
12 – Active Rosters cut down from 21 to 20 (3 p.m. ET)

DECEMBER 2017
22 – Christmas Waiver/Trade Freeze begins (5 p.m. ET)
24-26 – Christmas Break (no games or practices)
27 – Christmas Waiver/Trade Freeze ends (Noon ET)

JANUARY 2018
15 – CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic (Indianapolis, Ind.)
19 – Jersey Reversal Date

FEBRUARY 2018
15 – Overseas Deadline (3 p.m. ET)

MARCH 2018
7 – Recall/Reassignment Deadline (11:59 p.m. local time)
8 – ECHL Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET)

APRIL 2018
6 – Last day to place a Player on Waivers (5 p.m. ET)
8 – Last day of 2017-18 ECHL regular season
9 – Kelly Cup Playoffs rosters due (3 p.m. ET)
11 – 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs begin

JUNE 2018
1 – Protected Lists due (3 p.m. ET)
13 – Future Considerations Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET)
15 – Season-Ending Rosters due (3 p.m. ET)
16 – First day to sign Players for the 2018-19 season
30 – Qualifying Offers due to Players for the 2018-19 season (11:59 p.m. ET)

DID YOU KNOW: Teams are required to provide equipment to the players and the CBA spells out when players get new skates. Here is the exact wording from the CBA about equipment:

“It is the responsibility of the Member to provide each Player with all equipment, including skates, necessary and appropriate for professional hockey. Equipment must be fit for its intended use at a professional level and provide for the safety and well being of each Player. Equipment must be timely replaced as necessary so as to insure this provision is fully implemented.

Notwithstanding the above, Players who have been on an Active Roster or Injured Reserve for sixty (60) or more days during the Season, with the majority of time being spent on the Active Roster, who have not yet received a pair of skates, are entitled to at least one pair of skates provided by the Member.”

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