WICHITA, KS – We are constantly asked about ECHL offseason dates and their significance, so I thought an article on just that very thing would be helpful, especially as we are getting close to the end of another hockey season in North America.

We have passed the first, and perhaps the most meaningless, offseason mile marker, the protected list deadline. Simply put, the protected lists is where everyone and their mother gets protected. The lists are limitless and teams are allowed to protect as many players as they wish, as long as they were signed to ECHL standard player contracts and were never traded or released. Players who were in the ECHL on AHL/NHL contracts during the 2016-17 season are ineligible to be protected. This list essentially called “dibs” on players who were on the team last year, when it comes to signing them for next season. 

Today teams had to complete any outstanding “future considerations” trades. That phrase is something you see used with most trades in the ECHL, but what does it exactly mean?  According to Dan Petrino, Manager of Hockey Operations for the ECHL, future considerations refer to either a player or cash to be agreed upon at a later date.

This Thursday, June 15, teams must have their season-ending rosters into the league offices. Season-ending rosters may include up to 20 players and cannot include any players who did not sign an ECHL contract in 2015-16.

Then on Friday, June 16, teams can begin signing players for the coming season. It is likely that on this date and in the days leading up to our final mile marker date for the month of June, you will see teams make several signing announcements.

The month of June wraps up with teams announcing their list of qualifying offers. Those are due into the league office by 11:59 pm ET on June 30. This is the list fans will want to pay attention to the most, as this will give you some indication of who may be back or who a team might try to use as a trade piece. With this deadline, teams can qualify up to eight players, and no more than four can be veterans (260 regular season professional hockey games played as of the start of the 2017-18 season). The other piece that is important to realize here is that if a player is already signed, they will likely not be on this list.

The qualifying offer must remain open for acceptance until August 1, at which time the qualifying offer becomes null and void and the team may sign the qualified player to any salary or may elect to take no further action. Teams that extend a valid qualifying offer to a non-veteran player shall retain the rights to that qualified player for one playing season.

A team that extends a valid qualifying offer to a veteran player, or to a goaltender who has played more than 180 regular-season games, will retain the rights to that player until August 1.

After that date, if the veteran player or goaltender is not signed to a contract by the team, the veteran or goaltender shall be deemed a restricted free agent and can talk with other teams and secure offers of employment from other ECHL teams. Restricted free agents can not be traded. Additionally, the team with the player’s rights has seven days after the date it is notified to match the contract offer if they want.

If a restricted free agent is not signed to either an offer sheet or a contract by an ECHL team by August 31, the player will become an unrestricted free agent.

During the off-season, each team can sign up to 30 players for training camp. Those rosters are due to the league office on Thursday, September 28 at 3:00 pm ET.  The training camp rosters must be trimmed down and officially submitted for the start of the regular season by the opening day roster deadline, which is Wednesday, October 11 at 3:00 pm ET.

So there you have it, everything you wanted to know about the ECHL offseason, but were afraid to ask.

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