WICHITA, KS – The Wichita Thunder announced they have extended qualifying offers to seven players from last year’s team.

In his first year back since leaving professional hockey after the 2010-11 season, Thunder goaltender David Shantz had a decent season in net for Wichita, despite his record. The 37th pick of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft went 12-23-4, with a 2.88 goals against average, a .902 save percentage and a shutout.

Head Coach Malcolm Cameron protected a defensemen who will gain veteran status (260 career games played) during next season. Dan Milan has played 235 professional games, collecting 45 points and 474 PIMs. Last season for Wichita, Milan played in 68 games, had 10 assists and was a career-worst -22.

Also on the back end, the Thunder protected Martin Nemcik. After being signed in early December, Nemcik quickly assimilated himself to North American hockey. In 48 games, he collected 11 points (4G, 7A), 67 PIMs and was a -6.

Four forwards had their rights protected by the organization, led by Kenton Miller. In his second season with the Thunder, Miller collected 34 points (16G, 18A) and was a -22 in 65 games played. Miller was also called up to AHL Ontario in late October.

Andy Huff got off to a hot start in his sophomore season in the ECHL and it paid off with a career high in every offensive statistic. Huff finished last season with 11 goals, 15 assists and was -10.

Miles Koules was a great find toward the end of last season for Wichita, and is a player who could fit really well into head coach Malcolm Cameron‘s high-tempo system. The 22-year-old forward from Los Angeles, CA was acquired from the Quad City Mallards on March 3. In 15 games with Wichita, Koules finished with 13 points (4G, 9A) and was a -1.

Another former Quad City Mallard was protected by the Thunder. Logan Nelson was acquired for future considerations (later defenseman Donnie Harris,) on November 12. In 47 games in a Thunder uniform, Nelson had 16 points (9G, 7A) and was a -25.

Players who signed a contract by June 30 did not need to receive a qualifying offer.

Each team was entitled to reserve the rights to a maximum of eight qualified players. Of the eight qualified players, no more than four could be veterans (260 regular season professional hockey games played as of the start of the upcoming 2016-17 season). Players on open qualifying offers cannot be traded.

The qualifying offer must remain open for acceptance until Aug. 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 will retain the rights to that veteran until August 1.  After that date, if the veteran player is not signed to a contract by the team, the veteran shall be deemed a restricted free agent and shall be entitled to seek and secure offers of employment from other ECHL teams. Restricted free agents may not be traded. When a restricted free agent receives a contract offer from a team other than the team with the player’s rights and the restricted free agent wishes to accept the contract offer, the restricted free agent and the offering member must, within 24 hours, notify the ECHL, the team with the player’s rights and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association. The member with the player’s rights shall have seven days after the date it is notified to exercise its right to match the contract offer.

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 shall be deemed an unrestricted free agent.

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