ECHL: Florida Everblades Re-sign Two but Lose One to Europe

Photo by: Patrick Onufer for Patrick O'Photos

The Florida Everblades re-signed forwards Ben Brar and Craig Needham this week. After completing their college season, both players signed their first professional contract for the Everblades mid-season.

Ben Brar, 25, also joined the Everblades in March after finishing his career with Merrimack College. Brar recorded two assists in five regular season games. He played in seven games during Florida’s Kelly Cup Championship run in the playoffs, taking over when Cam Darcy was injured. He recorded one assist and six penalty minutes in the playoffs.

25-year-old Craig Needham played the previous five seasons with Providence College before signing with the Everblades on March 21st. He failed to get on the scoresheet in the eleven games he played for Florida this season.

Photo by: Christina Slemp for Inside the Rink

Unfortunately, the Everblades saw Matthew Wedman depart for Europe when he decided to forgo his fourth professional season in North America. He signed a contract to play the 2024-25 season in Slovakia for HC Banska Bystrica. Wedman didn’t play in the regular season for the Everblades, having spent most of his time with the Fort Wayne Komets in the ECHL and the Calgary Wranglers in the AHL. He played in all 23 games for Florida in the playoffs, scoring five goals, ten assists, and 15 points in their run to the championship.

The league released the list of players who received qualifying offers from each ECHL team yesterday. Each team could place eight players on the qualified list based on eligibility; only four can be veterans. These players have played 260 or more regular season games as a professional. Players on the qualified list may not be traded and must sign with a team before July 22nd, or the player becomes a restricted free agent. Teams with a restricted free agent receive an offer from another team and have up to seven days to match that offer, or the player is free to sign with the new team. If the restricted free agent isn’t signed to an offer sheet or on a player contract by an ECHL team by August 8th, he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Photo by: Christina Slemp for Inside the Rink

The Everblades extended qualifying offers to goaltender David Tendeck and forwards Tommy Apap, Kelly Cup Finals MVP Oliver Chau, and Matthew Wedman, who signed with a team in Slovakia.

James Slemp

I write for and photograph the Florida Everblades for ITR. I am a retiree that has turned my hobby of photography into a business. I currently live in Sarasota, Florida with my wife, Christy, but I'm originally from California. My previous career has taken me all over the US and the world and I definitely enjoy traveling. I've played hockey for over 30 years, learning as an adult, and love the game.

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