CINCINNATI, OH – After ECHL teams released their protected lists a couple weeks ago, it is now time for phase two of the off-season with the releasing of the season ending rosters.

The season ending roster can have a maximum of up to 20 players on it, and cannot have any players on it who did not sign an ECHL contract for the 2015-2016 season. (ie: All of Cincinnati’s AHL/NHL contracted players through either the Nashville Predators or Columbus Blue Jackets organization).

The Cyclones have included 19 players on their season ending roster, including 18 who suited up for Cincinnati throughout the season.

SEASON ENDING ROSTER:

Goalies (2): Neil Conway and Andy Iles

Defensemen (4): Brett Wysopal, Cody Carlson, Riley Weselowski (V), and Andrew Blazek

Forwards (13): Zach Budish, Jack Downing (V), Brett Ferguson (R), Branden Gracel, Nick Huard, Levko Koper (R), Tommy Mele (V), Christiaan Minella (V), Colin Mulvey, Adam Payerl, Garrick Perry, Joe Wilson, and Andrew Yogan

NOTE: (V) = Veteran, (R) = Rookie, Italics = Did not suit up for Cincinnati during 2015-2016 season

From this list of players, the Cyclones are entitled to maintain the rights to a maximum of eight players by extending them a qualifying offer no later than July 1st. Of those eight players, no more than four can be veterans (more than 260 professional games of experience). Players on open qualifying offers cannot be traded, nor are teams required to extend qualifying offers to players who sign a contract prior to July 1st. Teams can begin signing players to standard player contracts (SPC’s) as of today (June 16th).

Qualifying offers remain open for acceptance until August 1st, at which time it becomes null and void, and the team can sign the player to any salary, or may elect to take no further action. Any team that extends a valid qualifying offer to a non-veteran player will retain the rights to that player for one playing season.

In the case of a veteran who receives a qualifying offer, the team will retain his rights until the August 1st deadline. At that time, if a contract is not signed, that veteran will become a restricted free agent (RFA) and can negotiate contract offers with other ECHL teams. RFA’s cannot be traded. If the restricted free agent receives a contract offer from another ECHL team that he wishes to accept, the team with the RFA’s rights, ECHL, and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association (PHPA) must be notified within 24 hours. The team with the player’s rights will then have seven days to exercise their right to match the contract offer. This ruling also applies to veteran goaltenders who have more than 180 games of professional experience.

If the restricted free agent has not been signed to a contract by an ECHL team by August 31st, he will then be deemed an unrestricted free agent (UFA).

If you’ve followed me for a lengthy period of time, you know I will whip out my “G.M. cap” and act like I know how to be a general manager when I actually don’t any chance I get. This is one of those times.

Here are the eight players from the season ending roster I would give qualifying offers to if it were my choice based on what I saw throughout the season:

(G) Andy Iles, (D) Andrew Blazek, (D) Riley Weselowski, (F) Levko Koper, (F) Colin Mulvey, (F) Joe Wilson, (F) Andrew Yogan, and (F) Tommy Mele

**DISCLAIMER: I’m just a guy who writes about hockey so my picks may be heavily flawed.**

All eight are players I’d like to see back in Cincinnati in some way, shape, or form next season. Wilson and Koper are both young guns that showed promise during their time as a Cyclone last season. Wilson led the team in plus/minus with a +21 during the season, while Koper showed he could be a good set-up man picking up five assists in his short nine games in Cincinnati.

If the Cyclones can manage to keep Yogan on board, it would be a huge boost. Had he been with Cincy all season and not been called up a couple times, he would’ve been a league leading scorer in the ECHL, no question about it.

There isn’t enough that can be said about Weselowski and why he should be brought back next season. He may not be relied on for scoring as much as he used to, but his knowledge of the game, ability to lead the right way, and to be that guy in the locker room younger guys can lean on for advice is irreplaceable.

This will be Mele’s first season as a veteran. 32 points in 37 games with Cincinnati since coming over from Norfolk, could be very useful to the Cyclones next season adding some more veteran scoring.

Mulvey and Blazek were both later additions through trades and blossomed when they got here. Blazek came right in and quickly became one of Cincinnati’s best defensemen, while adding a bit of scoring to his game after really struggling Wichita and Norfolk. Mulvey put up 20 points in 25 games in Cincy and could be another offensive boost, ESPECIALLY if he continued to play on a line with Mele. The chemistry between those two really showed late in the season as they were on the third line playing like a top line.

Iles was ECHL Goaltender of the Month in February for a reason. Even though the wheels fell off a bit late in the season, I was convinced. If coach Matt Macdonald can get Iles playing like he was in February for a majority of the season, Iles would be a 5-9 brick wall.

COMPLETED TRADES:

June 13th was the deadline to finish any uncompleted future considerations trades made throughout the season. The Cyclones had two to complete:

1. Cincinnati has sent the rights to d-man Steve Weinstein to the South Carolina Stingrays to complete the February trade for forward Colin Mulvey.

2. Cincinnati has also sent cash to the Utah Grizzlies to complete the February trade for d-man Jason Binkley.

CYCLONES GOING OVERSEAS UPDATE:

A theme for most teams during the off-season in the ECHL, Cincinnati has seen four players so far (with more most likely to come) make the jump across the pond for the 2016-2017 season. Those players include:

Forward Jack Downing – EC Kassel Huskies (Germany)
Forward Branden Gracel – EC Kaufbeuren (Germany)
Forward Brett Ferguson – Gap (France)
Defenseman Cody Carlson – Braehead Clan (Scotland)

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