Photo courtesy of Steven Christy Photography.
The postseason for minor league hockey teams is always fraught with tough decisions. Dealing with a good dose of AHL only players, incoming prospects, and eventually late arrivals via Edmonton training camp is a process fraught with mystery. Last week the ECHL teams unleashed their “protected list”. Here is how the league and its player agreement define this moment.
Teams are allowed to protect as many players as they wish provided the players protected meet the guidelines as defined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the ECHL and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association which state that teams shall retain the rights to each player that:
1. Signed a Standard Players Contract in 2011-12 with the Member, and has not been traded or released, OR
2. Signed a Standard Players Contract in 2011-12, and was recalled to the NHL/AHL or IIHF team, and has not been traded or released, OR
3. Had received a Qualifying Offer last summer for the current season, DID NOT sign an SPC, and has not been traded or released, OR
4. Has been suspended by the Member or League, and has not been traded or released, OR
5. Signed a Standard Players Contract on or after the first day of the 2011-12 regular season, then subsequently signed an NHL/AHL contract, and has not been traded or released, OR
6. Has executed the ECHL Retirement Form, and has not been traded or released
Protected lists may exceed 20 players.
The ECHL also announced that teams must complete all Future Consideration trades by 3 p.m. ET on June 13 and that teams must submit their Season-Ending Roster by 3 p.m. ET on June 15.
Season-ending rosters may include up to 20 players and cannot include any players who did not sign an ECHL contract in 2011-12.
I don’t even remotely pretend to know anything about the ECHL or even the teams/players contained therewithin. I just don’t keep up with the league below the one I follow the most (I’m an AHL snob, if ever a thing existed). But there are some things to consider.
What does this mean for the Oklahoma City Barons? Three names have hit these lists that should perk your attention. First, is Dan Ringwald of the Stockton Thunder. Dan is a guy that doesn’t get enough credit for being the heads up, puck moving defender that we all know he can be. He was an integral part of the Barons defensive core down the home stretch. Likely is deserving of an AHL contract with Oklahoma City but with Marincin, Davidson, Tebeurt, and other NHL potential defenders in the barrel — it’s tough to offer him something before July.
Likewise, Dylan Yeo — a Teubert/Plante style player with less immediate potential — is definitely worth an AHL meal ticket, but might get squeezed out in OKC. Heavy shot, smart passer, and fantastic leadership skills, he’s a great minor league asset, but not quickly usable outside of OKC. He’ll likely start the season with the Ontario Reign, but certainly could make a callup to the AHL respectable if it were to occur.
The final name on the list is Andrew Lord. Concussed in preseason in Oklahoma City, he was never cleared (or so we were told) to play in game time situations. Thus he became the ever present cheerleader, and yet still a fan favorite. His style of play leans towards the type of injury that he’s sustained. He’s a smash and grab forward who isn’t anything more than a minor league angsty winger. That’s not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, he still remains one that fans talk about. Nonetheless, it’s probably time for the Barons to cut ties and leave Lord with the Wheeling Nailers.
The two defenders listed above indeed played some great hockey, but are they of immediate value within the Oilers organization? Neither are potent enough to overstep an up-and-coming defender, so the question becomes more finite – Do they have immediate value to the Barons? Perhaps they do. By saving two-way contract space, the Oilers likely back-end an OKC farm squad with AHL-only types that protect those that are on the horizon. The other option is diving into the current AHL pool, in other locales. This is where the Barons/Oilers could do some investigation into collegiate players, European/Overseas players looking for a jump, or in re-upping familiar faces like Kirill Tulupov. Just some food for thought.
Look for some news in the coming weeks. The month prior to the July is always a mix of hurry-up-and-wait, but occasionally we are dropped some intrigue.