After locking up trade deadline acquisition Matheson Iacopelli at the start of free agency, the Icemen have remained relatively quiet so far when it comes to off-season roster moves. On June 22nd, the team announced their season-ending roster, a list of 20 players that the team can reserve the contract rights to if the players meet the eligibility requirements set by the league. Of the 20 player spots allotted on the season-ending list, the Icemen chose to protect 19 players, ten forwards, and nine defensemen. Per league requirements, each team can extend qualifying offers to eight of those players, as long as the qualifying offer is in before the 11:59 pm deadline on July 7th. That July 7th deadline just recently passed, and on Monday, the Icemen announced which eight players received qualifying offers.
Offers have been extended to:
Jacob Friend – Defense
Tim Theocharidis – Defense
Brandon Fortunato – Defense
Garret Cockerill – Defense
Christopher Brown – Forward
Ara Nazarian – Forward
Craig Martin – Forward
Ben Hawerchuk – Forward
Arguably, the entire list of names is notable, considering every one of the players have been extended a contractual offer. It suffices to say each player on the list has contributed to the team in meaningful ways, though there are noteworthy names to keep an eye on as the roster starts to take shape for the 2023-24 Icemen season.
On defense, the standouts are Jacob Friend and Brandon Fortunato. Friend has provided a big, physical blueline presence for the Icemen over the past three seasons. His crushing hits along the board have, no pun intended, become an Icemen staple. Meanwhile, Fortunato provides the Icemen crucial secondary scoring depth. He is a shifty, quick puck-moving defenseman that can exit the defensive zone quickly and drive play in the opposite direction. Both Friend and Fortunato add a level of competitiveness to the Icemen defense core that is needed in an ultra-competitive ECHL South Division.
On the offensive side of the puck, names like Christopher Brown and Ara Nazarian stand out. Brown and Nazarian are both critical players amongst the Icemen’s forward group. Icemen Captain Christopher Brown is coming off of a year in which he posted career highs in all areas (24g, 40a). Brown’s recent performance showcases the threat he poses as both a goal-scorer and an offensive visionary, as the captain possesses an insane ability to create space and find the open man. Ara Nazarian was the Icemen’s runner-up in scoring during the 2022-23 season, posting 50 points through 71 games. Like Brown, Nazarian can open up the ice and find ways to produce scoring chances. His speed is perhaps what makes him most dangerous, as he has the ability to hit the jets and get to the grimier areas of the ice quickly. The potential return of Brown and Nazarian to the Icemen roster is a good thing for the Icemen scoreboard.
All qualifying offers made must remain open until July 22nd, after which the team can sign players to any salary. The 2023-24 Icemen season begins on October 21st.