The Toledo Walleye have placed 24 players on the ECHL's protected players list.
The organization Monday reserved the rights to 14 forwards and 10 defensemen for next season. The team has the right to sign those players before any other team in the ECHL.
The forwards are Alden Hirschfeld, A.J. Jenks, Tyler Barnes, Kyle Bonis, Colin Jacobs, Charlie O’Connor, Christian Hilbrich, Shane Berschbach, Connor Crisp, Mike Embach, Austen Brassard, Tyson Spink, Tylor Spink, and Dane Walters.
The defensemen are Beau Schmitz, Jared Wilson, Trevor Hamilton, Parker Reno, Ryan Obuchowski, Kevin Lohan, Simon Denis, Jacob MacDonald, Jamie Doornbosch, and Scott Czarnowczan.
ECHL teams are allowed to protect any number of players provided they meet the guidelines of the league's collective bargaining agreement.
Walleye coach Dan Watson said the list allows him to negotiate exclusively with those players until the first day of official signings June 16. The Walleye have the first right of refusal to those players on the list.
The ECHL will announce season-ending rosters June 15. Those rosters may include only 20 players.
Each team then is entitled to reserve rights to a maximum of eight players from the list by extending a qualifying offer no later than July 1. No more than four can be veterans — defined as those who have played more than 260 professional games.
Goaltender Pat Nagle was not on the protected list. But last season the veteran signed an American Hockey League contract with Grand Rapids and then was assigned to Toledo.
Other players that were under AHL contracts and saw significant time with the Walleye were Kevin Tansey, Mike Borkowski, Patrick McCarron, Dylan Sadowy, and Zach Nastasiuk.
“No ECHL team has their rights,” Watson said.
Jacob MacDonald and the Spink brothers played for the Walleye in 2016-17 but did not play for Toledo last season.
“You can only keep ECHL rights for one full season,” Watson said.
Two players on the protected list, Bonis and Denis, announced last week they had signed with teams overseas for 2018-19. Watson said he protected the ECHL rights to those players in case they decided to return to North America next season.
“You never know what will happen over there,” he said. “A lot of players have a bad experience and don't like the way it is run over there. And if they want to get back to North America, we want to keep them.”
Former Walleye goaltender Jeff Lerg is an example of one player who went to play in France, then opted to return to North America. Lerg ended up playing the remainder of the 2016-17 season with the Walleye, his former ECHL team.
Watson has made it clear the vast majority of the players from last season's team will not be here in 2018-19.
“I'd say less than five of those players will dress for us,” he said.
Watson said he has been in communication with players, coaches, and agents from across the country as he begins to put together the team's roster for next season.
“We're looking to sign some young free agents and we're also looking at some AHL guys,” he said.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.