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Reeder's Digest #1: Making Sense of the Roster Building Process

Sunday, May 31st
Reeder's Digest #1:  Making Sense of the Roster Building Process

Welcome to my first blog post!  The purpose of this blog is to discuss anything Icemen or hockey related, maybe even some behind-the-scenes stuff as well.  Thanks for stopping by! 

The Icemen staff has been “Zooming” and hard at work preparing promotions and events for our upcoming All-Star season!  Today’s blog post will focus on the hockey side of things.  As we approach the Month of the June, the process of building the team begins.

On Tuesday the ECHL an its member teams will begin announcing their “Protected List” of players from the past season.   This is the first of a three-step process that ECHL teams use to begin building their rosters for the 2020-21 season.   The other steps to this process include “Season Ending Rosters” and “Qualifying Offers.”  These steps can be a bit confusing for both fans and even team staff alike.  

When the Protected List is announced, fans will see a list of player names.  The sight of seeing some of their favorite players listed generates excitement, and thoughts begin to roll that these players will be back for another season of Icemen hockey!  However, the excitement can quickly turn to dissapointment when they don't see the names of some players and even confusion when the names of players who may have left the team midseason for Europe appear.  One might even notice a player that never even suited up one game for the team.  It begs the question, what does all of this mean?  The word jargon can be a bit much in the official releases, so I will attempt to simplify this process with the cliffnotes version as best as I can.   

When it comes to the Protected List, seeing a certain player’s name does not mean that particular player is indeed back in the fold for next season. To break it down, teams may add as many players as they wish to their Protected List as long as they meet certain criteria.   Any player who signed an ECHL standard players contract (SPC) and has not been traded or released, may be added to the list.

Any player who played under an NHL or AHL contract last season may NOT be added to the Protected List.  Therefore, there is no need to be alarmed if you do not see players listed such as Jacob Cederholm, Adam Carlson, Hayden Shaw or Bobby Lynch, as they were assigned to the team by the NHL/AHL affiliates (Winnipeg/Manitoba).  The Protected List is only intended for players who were under an ECHL contracts or rights. 

Players who received a Qualifying Offer last summer may also be added.  The Qualifying Offer is the third step to this process which I will explain a little bit later.  For example, in June of 2019, forward Matt Pohlkamp was acquired by the Icemen to complete the terms of a future considerations trade with Reading during the 2018-19 season.  The Icemen extended a qualifying offer to Pohlkamp last summer, but Pohlkamp opted to play in Europe instead and he never played a single game for Jacksonville last season.  However, because Pohlkamp was tendered a qualifying offer, the Icemen hold his ECHL rights for an entire league year. On Tuesday, the Icemen could elect to protect Matt Pohlkamp on their list in order to maintain his rights a bit longer.   Hypothetically speaking, Pohlkamp’s contract rights could be traded to another team for another player, or if Pohlkamp elects to return to the ECHL this season, the Icemen own his rights and could attempt to sign him for the upcoming year.  

Looking ahead, all 2019-20 trades that involved future considerations must be completed and submitted to the league office before June 12.  This leads into the second step of the process, “Season Ending Rosters,” which are due into the league office on June 15.  This is an extension of the Protected List, but teams must narrow down their list to just 20 players at this point and this list cannot include any players who did not sign an ECHL contract in 2019-20. 

The final step takes place just before July, as teams will extend “Qualifying Offers” to up to eight players.  Qualifying offers are exciting because these are actual contract offers to players.  Players will have a designated time to act on their qualifying offer (usually a time frame of 2-3 weeks).  The player can elect to accept the offer at the salary tendered, or decline the offer and the offer will become null and void at the deadline date.  The team will then have the right to sign the player to any other salary at any point or elect to take no further action.   One of the key assets of extending a qualifying offer to a player is that it reserves that player’s rights for the team for a full league year, allowing the team to sign the player at any point, or trade that player’s rights for other players.  

Two things to note when you see the qualifying offer list posted.  Players who already signed a contract for the next season do not need to receive a qualifying offer.  So if you don't see a certain player listed, it may be that the player has already signed a contract for next season  and has not been announced yet..  In addition, most veteran players (a player who has played in 260 professional games) likely will not receive a qualifying offer.  The reason for this is because veterans have a few more rights than normal players in this step of the process, and basically veterans are free to sign wherever they wish. A qualifying offer may be tendered to a veteran player, but usually teams will give them the freedom to choose their landing spots.  It is basically a mutual respect situation.  In addition, qualifying offers are designed for teams to secure the rights for up and coming younger prospects. 

Well that pretty much covers it. There are plenty of other written details and rules to each of these steps, but I wanted to breakdown the key points in an effort to provide some insight and answer potential questions that typically come up as this process unfolds.  Come tomorrow, the player transactions period begins!  

Until next time....

--Alex Reed is the Director of Communications & Broadcasting for the Jacksonville Icemen.  Follow him on Twitter @alex_reed_pxp or e-mail him at alexr@jacksonvilleicemen.com for questions, or blog topic ideas. 

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