ECHL: Icemen Off-Season Round-Up: Roster Moves and Affiliations

The Kelly Cup has returned to Estero, Lord Stanley has a new home in Las Vegas, and finally, the dog days of the hockey offseason are getting to be upon us. It’s that time of the year when the golf course sees more hockey players than the ice rink, and terms like “save of the week” refers more to your grocery shopping experience than what’s on ESPN. Although we may be suffering from a lack of hockey, there’s never truly a lack of hockey news. That can especially be said for the Jacksonville Icemen, who recently announced their 2022-2023 season-ending roster and, on Friday, dropped a bit of NHL/AHL affiliate news.

Season-ending rosters are a part of the process each team in the ECHL goes through to build their roster for the upcoming season. As players in the league can only sign contracts for one year, the roster transaction process in the offseason ensures teams have a way to retain talent and build chemistry throughout their line-ups. On June 8th, the Icemen announced their protected list, a list of players each team is allowed an exclusive period of contract negotiation with. Teams can protect as many players as they’d like; however, there are criteria in place for players to be eligible for protection. Jacksonville added 26 players to their protected list, including goalie Charles Williams, defensemen Jacob Friend, Brandon Fortunato, and forwards Ara Nazarian, Derek Lodermeier, and Christopher Brown.

Forward Luke Lynch. Credit: Gary Lloyd McCullough

Tuesday, June 20th, was the “future considerations” deadline for the league. Oftentimes teams will make a trade containing future considerations as part of the trade deal – in some leagues, that may look like cash compensation or draft picks. Here, these future considerations are, for the most part, the rights to sign a player. For the Icemen, those future considerations sent forward Luke Lynch to Kalamazoo.

The second step in off-season roster building is the season-ending roster step. Season-ending rosters are lists of up to 20 players that allow a team to retain the contract rights of a player until the qualifying offer period begins, in this case, on July 7th. This year’s season-ending roster deadline came on June 22nd, with June 23rd being the first day players can begin signing with teams. This window allows teams to sign up to eight players from the season-ending roster, with no more than four of those players being veteran players (260 regular season games played). Nineteen Icemen players landed on the season-ending roster, including nine defensemen and 10 forwards.

Icemen Forwards Craig Martin and Derek Lodermeier. Credit: Andrew Willis/ITR

Defensemen:
Jacob Friend
Tim Theocharidis
Jacob Panetta
Brandon Fortunato
Mackenzie Dwyer
Julian Kislin
Garret Cockerill
Victor Hadfield
Connor Russell

Forwards:
Chris Grando
Matheson Iacopelli
Christopher Brown
Ara Nazarian
Derek Lodermeier
Craig Martin
Ben Hawerchuk
Nick Isaacson
Brendan Harris
Travis Howe

From this point forward, the 2023-2024 Jacksonville Icemen roster should begin to take shape. The window for protected players to sign with the team is now open, and the qualifying offer period begins on July 7th. It won’t be long before we know who will represent the team on the ice this season. In addition to the roster and contract moves, the Icemen also announced news surrounding their NHL and AHL team affiliations. For the past two seasons, the Icemen have been the NHL’s New York Rangers affiliate, with their AHL affiliate team being the Hartford Wolfpack. The team will announce a new affiliation at a press conference on July 17th. Icemen Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Nick Luuko spoke on the change saying, “We want to thank the New York Rangers and Hartford Wolf Pack for their affiliation for the past two years. We are looking forward to the depth of talent our new partners have in their system. Our goal is to continue to improve and bring the Kelly Cup to the best fans in the league. We are confident our new NHL and AHL partners will add talent to the Icemen that can move us forward.” Before the New York Rangers organization, the Icemen served as the ECHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets and the AHL’s Manitoba Moose for four seasons.

Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis is a freelance hockey reporter covering the ECHL's Jacksonville Icemen for Inside The Rink and the Vancouver Canucks for The Canuck Way. His work has been featured on Hockey of Tomorrow and The Daily Faceoff, and can be found on Twitter/X @FromTheDrewLine.

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