ECHL: Wheeling Nailers Announce 2024-25 Protected List

Nailers salute the home crowd.
Photo Credit: Stacey Gramlich | Inside The Rink

The Wheeling Nailers announced their protected list sent to the ECHL. The list consists of 14 forwards, seven defensemen, and one goalie.

Forwards

Vincent De Mey, Cedric Desruisseaux, David Jankowski, Cal Kiefiuk, Matt Koopman, Tanner Laderoute, Peter Laviolette III, Dustin Manz, Jordan Martel, Cedric Pare, Felix Pare, Anthony Petruzzelli, Matthew Quercia and Jared Westcott.

The Nailers elected to protect their two leading scorers during the regular season in Martel (29g-18a) and Laderoute (24g-26a). Martel was a huge piece to the Nailers since coming over from the Utah Grizzlies earlier in the season. While with the Grizzlies, Martel registered six goals and 11 points in 16 games to start the season. Martel was instantly put on to the powerplay for Wheeling and tallied seven goals and 16 points.

Laderoute had an excellent second season with the Nailers. After being signed out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth in the 2022-23 season, Laderoute started his pro hockey career with one goal and seven points in his first 11 pro games. During the 2023-24 season, Laderoute continued to impress, reaching the 50-point mark in 63 games. During the playoffs, he added three assists in nine games.

Defense

Davis Bunz, David Drake, Chris Mckay, Louie Roehl, Adam Smith, Aidan Sutter and Jordan Wishman

The Nailers protected two of their top three defensemen in plus/minus rating in Bunz and Drake. Bunz tallied 21 assists and 31 points in 58 games for the Nailers during the 2023-24 season while going a plus-20, which was a much better rating than he had the season prior. He joined the team during the 2022-23 season, where he appeared in 58 games, tallying 20 assists and 23 points while being a minus-12. Drake finished his fifth season in the ECHL and third stint with the Nailers. Points did not come as often for the Naperville, IL native, collecting 20 points in 65 games, but was top three for defensemen in plus/minus with a plus-18. Drake was a good veteran presence for the Nailers with playoff experience. Drake was part of the 2022 Nailers team that made the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

Goalie

Jaxon Castor was the only goalie to be protected for the Nailers. Castor was impressive towards the end of the season for the Nailers to help them get into the playoffs. In the absence of all-star goalie, Taylor Gauthier, Castor stepped up big. He went 10-4-1 in 16 games between the pipes during the regular season, posting a .899 save percentage and 2.71 goals against average. In the 2024 Kelly Cup Playoffs, Castor went 4-3-1 with a 2.73 GAA, .762 save percentage, and one shutout with 21 saves against the Indy Fuel.

How Protected List Works

Via the ECHL website:

Teams are allowed to protect as many players as they wish provided the players protected meet the guidelines as defined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the ECHL and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association which state that teams shall retain the rights to each player that:

1. Signed an SPC in 2023-24 with the Member, and has not been traded or released, OR

2. Signed an SPC in 2023-24, and was recalled to the NHL/AHL or IIHF team, and has not been traded or released, OR

3. Had received a Qualifying Offer last summer for the current Season, DID NOT sign an SPC, and has not been traded or released, OR

4. Has been suspended by the Member or League, and has not been traded or released, OR

5. Signed an SPC on or after the first day of the 2023-24 Regular Season, then subsequently signed an NHL/AHL contract, and has not been traded or released, OR

6. Has executed the ECHL Retirement Form, and has not been traded or released.

Protected lists may exceed 20 players.

Zachary Alvarado

Inside The Rink journalist covering the Wheeling Nailers and Norfolk Admirals of the ECHL. I am a Duquesne University Sports Information and Media major graduating in December. I have been passionate about hockey since I was 4 years old.

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