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ECHL Protected Lists Due Today and Other Allen Americans and ECHL Happenings

Thursday, June 8th
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There is not much happening with the Allen Americans but there is one action item due today. However, things will start to ramp up over the rest of June. I had a few unrelated items on my list so thought today would be a good day to share. Here it goes:

– It looks like the Brabham Cup curse will strike again and the best regular season team in the history of the ECHL will not end up with a Kelly Cup for the Idaho Steelheads. Idaho was shutout 1-0 by Florida last night as Everblades goalie Cam Johnson had his fourth shutout of the playoffs. Idaho is down 0-3 in the series with the next two games in Florida on Friday and Saturday. If Florida wins the Kelly Cup look for goalie Cam Johnson to become the first back-to-back playoff MVP in ECHL history.

– The first action of the 2023-24 season is due today (3:00 pm EDT) as ECHL teams must submit protected lists. This is a list of unlimited length of players that meet one of several criteria that allows teams to retain rights. There are always some unexpected names on the protected lists. Keep in mind the list is players that meet one of the criteria and doesn’t say anything else.

1. All the players that signed contracts with Allen last season and weren’t traded or released. In addition to all of the players with the team at the end of the season you can add Jared Bethune (left on his own), Nick Albano (loaned/signed to Belleville, then left for Europe) and Stephen Baylis (out all year injured) to the list.

2. Players that were given qualifying offers last summer and did not sign with Allen and weren’t traded or released. Ben Carroll, Jake Kearley and J.D. Dudek are in this category.

 A year ago, Allen had 30 players on the protected list. By my calculation the number of players meeting one of the criteria this year will be less.  

– The protected list does not tell you much about the 2023-24 roster. That will be clearer later in the month (June 22) when season ending rosters are due to the league office. This list is a maximum of 20 players and will be limited to players that signed a contract with Allen in 2022-23. 

– Typically, after the season is over and prior to the time players can sign for 2023-24 (June 23) there is not much going on between the players and the Americans. It is the time when players and their agents are looking at options for next season. The two main options are opportunities in the AHL and/or in Europe.

– Future consideration trades must be completed by June 20. I would expect it will go up to the deadline before those trades are completed. These future consideration trades typically are structured where one team can protect a number of players (agreed to at the time of the trade) and the team that traded a player can choose from the unprotected list. Allen will gain and lose one player from future considerations.

  • Savannah owes Allen a defenseman. The Ghost Pirates will protect a predetermined number of defensemen and Allen will pick from the rest.
  • Allen owes Norfolk a player for the trade that brought defenseman Eric Williams to Allen in early March. Williams was the captain in Norfolk and led the team in points by defensemen (by 9 points) even though he played in only 45 games before being traded. The point is you don’t trade for a player like Williams without giving up a good player back. It should be noted the futures is for a “player” not a specific position. Coach Costello will be a able to protect predetermined number of players but there is little doubt Norfolk will get a good player from the list they will have to choose from.

– I am sure many of you have seen the ECHL press release on what they call the Team Awards which include both individual and group awards given to what I call front office employees. It covers everything from Broadcaster of the Year to Community Service Team of the Year to several Sales awards. Here is the press release with the 17 award categories and the five finalists for each award: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2023/6/echl-announces-finalists-for-2022-23-team-awards-presented-by-sponsorcx    

– It is always interesting to me to see which teams get the most nominations. I have never done the stats over a period of years, but it seems the Mountain Division is always at the low end. There are 17 awards with five nominations for a total of 85 nominations. If you divide by the 28 teams in the ECHL it comes out to an average of three nominations per team. If you multiply the average of three nomination by the seven teams in each division, it would be 21 nominations per division if distributed equally. The Mountain Division has a total of 14 nominations this year. 

– Allen has two nominations. One is for the Most Creative Revenue Generation of the Year, which was a Tickets for Teachers Program that offered discounted tickets for teachers to get visibility at schools. The second nomination is for Specialty Jersey of the Year for the Star Wars Night. 

 Allen Americans ECHL Specialty Jersey of the Year Nomination

– Two of the most visible of the 17 awards are Broadcaster of the Year and Media/PR Director of the Year awards because this group is well known in the local markets and around the league. The Mountain Division got no nominations for Broadcaster of the Year. However, congrats to Cam McGuire (Idaho) and Jason Mals (Wichita) who are finalists for the Media/PR Director of the Year.

– Here are the nominations for each ECHL team ranging from seven to zero. Remember there are 17 different categories:

  • 7 – Indy, Cincinnati, Savannah
  • 6 – Florida, Maine
  • 5 – Toledo, Kalamazoo
  • 4 – Jacksonville, Wichita, Norfolk, Orlando, Greenville  
  • 3 – Rapid City, Fort Wayne, 
  • 2 – Worcester, Allen, Trois Riviéres, Tulsa, Idaho
  • 1 – Kansas City, Reading, South Carolina, Atlanta, Adirondack, Iowa
  • 0 – Newfoundland, Utah, Wheeling  

– These awards will be presented as part of the ECHL summer meetings which takes place in Las Vegas at the end of June. The ECHL Board Governors always have a meeting during the week and in the past rule changes and ownership/franchise changes have come out the BOG meeting. I haven’t heard what is on the BOG agenda, but it will be worthwhile to track what they discuss, decide and announce.

– Atlanta announced several changes this week. Coach Jeff Pyle is stepping down but will remain with the Gladiators as director of hockey operations. Long time Atlanta player and captain, Derek Nesbitt, who retired last season and was an assistant coach this season, has been named head coach. Atlanta also announced they will be affiliating with Nashville in 2023-24. Here are the details on all of these moves: https://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/sports/atlanta-gladiators-name-derek-nesbitt-head-coach-among-other-changes/article_34dcee18-0499-11ee-a060-9f34a0203f56.html     

– A couple of former Allen players are on the move. Vincent Areseneau was part of two championship teams in Allen and has been playing in the AHL full time since 2018-19. Arseneau was just traded from the Abbotsford Canucks to the Providence Bruins. Here is the press release:  https://www.providencebruins.com/news/detail/providence-bruins-acquire-vincent-arsenau-from-abbotsford-canucks

– Brett Skinner was an offensive defenseman who started the 2012-13 season with Allen. Coach Martinson knew when he signed Skinner he would not be in Allen very long because he was too good for the CHL. The hope was Skinner could help Allen get off to a good start. The strategy worked as Skinner lasted 28 games and had 37 points (7G, 30A). He was loaned to the AHL (Grand Rapids) and never returned. Allen won 22 of the 28 games Skinner was with the Americans on the way to its first championship. Skinner became a coach after retiring in 2017 and was just named as the head coach of the USHL’s Fargo Force. FYI, Hank Crone, Grant Hebert and Ty Farmer all played for the Fargo Force. Here is the press release on Skinner’s selection: https://fargoforce.com/news/2023/5/31/general-force-announce-brett-skinner-as-head-coach.aspx  

– If you have been tracking ECHL players heading to Europe there are some big names already on the list. 

  • Newfoundland has lost three players including its all-time leading scorer, Zach O’Brien who has signed in Slovakia. He is an elite player at the ECHL level who has averaged 1.35 point per game in his 205 games with the Growlers. 
  • Wichita’s leading scorer this season, Michal Stinil has signed in Austria. He was Wichita’s leader by 16 points. He had 79 points (31G, 48A) and a points per game average of 1.22. 
  • Toledo’s Gordie Green has signed in Austria. Green was Toledo’s second leading scorer during the regular season. He is #1 in points per game in the playoffs (1.38). He had 18 points (9G, 9A) in 13 games before the Walleye were eliminated in the Western Conference finals. 
  • Reading’s Max Newton has signed in Slovakia. The rookie was Reading’s second leading scorer and the ECHL’s third leading rookie scorer with 72 points (34G, 38A).

While no Allen Americans have signed in Europe it is likely just a matter of time. There has never been an off season when zero Allen players have signed in Europe. 

DID YOU KNOW: Florida goalie Cam Johnson had his fourth shutout of the playoffs last night. He also had four shutouts last season when Florida won the Kelly Cup. With eight career shutouts, Johnson is now tied with one other goalie for career playoff shutouts (8) and that is Riley Gill. Johnson still has a long way to go to catch Gill’s ECHL all-time records of 90 playoff games, 53 playoff wins, and 11 finals series wins.

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