ECHL: Season-Ending Rosters: Everblades hope to stay the course

Ben Masella, Stefan Leblanc, and Joe Pendenza highlight the Florida Everblades’ season-ending roster, which the ECHL released on Friday. The team named 17 players whom they intend to re-sign for the 2023-24 season.

The team retains sole the right to re-sign these players for two weeks before they enter the qualifying offers phase on July 7.

The roster can only include players who were on ECHL contracts during the 2022-23 season. That rules out goalie, two-time postseason MVP Cam Johnson, and Lukas Kälble, one of the team’s leading defensemen. Their rights belong to the AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers. Players under ECHL contracts who were not included on the season-ending roster are now unrestricted free agents.

Here are some of the key players on the list.

Masella and Leblanc: Both players found chemistry as defensive partners during the 2021-22 season and have been inseparable since. Leblanc has turned up the offensive aspect of his game during both Kelly Cup championship runs, including a team-high 12 assists during the recent playoffs. Masella became the captain last season and has established roots in Southwest Florida. Re-signing them will likely be a priority.

Pendenza and Blake Winiecki: Both forwards saw lower scoring totals compared to the previous season, but they still led the team in goals and total points this past season. They have also become local mainstays and are likely to return.

John McCarron: Massella’s predecessor in the captaincy, McCarron retired and then for about five months before the itch brought him back. He picked up right where he left off at forward, scoring two crucial overtime goals in the Eastern Conference finals. He looked comfortable in his role stepping back and letting Masella lead the team, and his inclusion on the list indicates that the Everblades would be glad to have him back for more.

Oliver Chau: The forward made a mark in his rookie season as a versatile player who could be counted on for both goals and assists, which put him at a team-leading +32. He also did not let up in the postseason, as he tied with McCarron for second on the team in total points. The Everblades would like him back, but don’t be surprised if he ends up on an American League roster.

Sean Josling and Logan Lambdin: Both forwards arrived in late-season trades, and apparently, Everblades GM Craig Brush liked what he saw. Josling, another versatile player, had an even split of 10 goals and ten assists in the postseason for a team-best 20 points. He also scored two first-period goals in Game 4 of the Kelly Cup Finals, kick-starting Florida in what turned out to be the clincher. Lambdin had very similar numbers, with eight goals and eight assists for 16 points.

Also on the roster: D Cole Moberg, D Brandon Hickey, C Cam Darcy, F Ashton Calder, RW Kyle Neuber, LW Levko Koper, F Will Calverley, F Bobo Carpenter, and F Michael Neville.

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