Although some notable names were left off of the Walleye’s protected list on Monday, it doesn’t mean those players won’t be in a Toledo uniform next season.
The organization announced a list of 15 players that it reserved the rights to sign this offseason.
But Walleye coach Nick Vitucci, who also is the team’s director of operations, said ECHL rules preclude him from reserving the rights to some players. ECHL teams cannot protect players that are under American Hockey League contracts.
“We protected everyone we could,” Vitucci said.
Although the league allows teams to protect up to 20 players, Vitucci said he did not have that many “Walleye protected players” on his roster.
Those players who suited up for Toledo last season who are under AHL contracts include productive forwards Willie Coetzee and Andrej Nestrasil. Coetzee led the team in scoring during the regular season with 68 points (28 goals and 40 assists). Nestrasil ranked fourth with 41 points (11 goals, 30 assists).
Coetzee and Nestrasil are signed within the Detroit Red Wings’ organization and are under contract with Grand Rapids of the AHL.
Both goalies from last season, Jordan Pearce and Kent Simpson, are under AHL contracts. Pearce is in his fourth season with the Red Wings, while Simpson just finished his first season with Rockford in the Chicago Blackhawks’ system.
Defenseman Ben Youds and forwards Byron Froese and Trevor Parkes also are under AHL contracts.
Those players may be back in Toledo for the 2013-14 season if they don’t stick with the AHL clubs after training camp.
Each ECHL team can reserve the rights to a maximum of eight players from the protected list by extending a qualifying offer no later than June 30.
Toledo has reserved the rights to 15 players — eight forwards and seven defensemen. Vitucci said he hopes to bring back about a dozen of those players.
On the list are forwards Aaron Bogosian, Adam Hobson, Joey Martin, Nino Musitelli, Travis Novak, Kyle Rogers, Randy Rowe, and Stephon Thorne.
The defensemen include Cody Lampl, Nathan Martine, Wes O’Neill, Phil Oreskovic, Phil Rauch, Joey Ryan, and Erik Spady.
“This is the time we will reach out to players to see if they are interest in coming back,” Vitucci said.
He said if the players agree to sign a contract, he will not have to “waste” a qualifying offer.
Vitucci said he will not send out qualifying offers to the four veterans on the list because they can still opt to become free agents. Vitucci said he would likely offer contracts to forwards Rogers and Rowe and defensemen Oreskovic and O’Neill in early August.
Teams can sign no more than four veterans or players who have appeared in 260 regular-season pro games.
One factor that has become a bit more tricky to negotiate will be the ECHL’s weekly salary cap. The cap has been reduced from $12,400 per week to $12,000.
“We have to fit them under a salary cap,” he said. “We have to sign the best team to fit under that salary cap."
Griffins win Calder Cup
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Triston Grant's goal midway through the third period helped break a tie and send the Grand Rapids Griffins to their first Calder Cup victory in the American Hockey League with a 5-2 victory Tuesday night over the Syracuse Crunch.
The Griffins are the Detroit Red Wings Triple-A affiliate and include players that spent time with the Toledo Walleye.
Grant's goal with 10:06 left broke a 2-2 tie. Empty net goals by Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson sealed the win. It was the Griffins first appearance in the Kelly Cup.
Former Walleye Petr Mrazek made 17 saves for the win while fellow former Toledo forward Luke Glendenning had an assist and was a plus-1.