In the coming weeks, a lot of news will be coming out regarding the Worcester Railers and their roster. I have recently received messages asking for some more information regarding rosters in the ECHL, so I hope to clarify everything so that it’s easier for the average hockey fan to understand. A majority of this information can be found in the ECHL – PHPA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) or have been explained elsewhere in another form. Those links will be added to the post at the end.

Active Rosters

Teams may have 20 players on their active rosters. They may have 21 players in the first 30 days of the season. These players may be signed by the Railers team to a Standard Player Contract (SPC) or players who have been assigned or loaned to the Railers by a NHL or AHL team.

Teams can only dress 16 skaters and two goaltenders.

Teams may sign up to 30 players for training camp. Teams must submit these rosters to the league office by 3:00 PM EST on September 28. By October 11 at 3 PM EST, they must cut their roster down to 21 players.

Recalls, Reassignments, and Loans

In the ECHL, players may be offered contracts or try-out agreements from any AHL or NHL team. This will be common when a player is needed on Bridgeport Sound Tigers or occasionally New York Islanders teams. They may offer one of our players a try-out contract for a few games and potentially sign them to their team. When a non-affiliated AHL or NHL team wants to offer any contract or try-out agreement to any of our players, they may do so after paying a $500 development fee to the Railers.

In the ECHL, it is common for both the NHL and AHL teams to assign players to their team. In the past year, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers have reassigned Forwards, Defensemen, and Goaltenders to their previous ECHL affiliate. Worcester will have players from these teams assigned and recalled from our team throughout the season.

In the ECHL, non-affiliated AHL and NHL teams can loan players to ECHL teams. Same idea has happened in past Worcester teams.

The deadline for Recall and Assignments for the 2017-18 season has yet to be announced. It comes before the trade deadline each year, usually the day before. If an NHL or AHL team wants to move one of their players from one ECHL team to another, they would have to do it by this deadline.

Trades and Future Considerations

Players under a SPC with an ECHL team may be traded. Players who are assigned to our Railers team cannot be traded by the Railers.

A term commonly used in Trade Reports is that a player was traded for “future considerations”. This simply means that one team is sending a player to another team and what they’ll get in return will be decided at a later date, whether that is cash or for another player. During this off-season, teams must settle those trades by June 13 at 3 PM.


Waivers in the ECHL are a way of a team and player ending their contract. ECHL teams can place players on waivers at anytime. When a player is placed on waivers, other teams in the league have the opportunity to pick up the player and their contract. The order for opportunity is based off point percentage, so teams with the worse percentage have the first priority. When a team successfully claims a player, they will have the lowest priority until the order gets reset in the next week.

Injuries, Reserve, Injury Reserve, and Emergency Backups

Throughout the season the team will be dealing with injuries for the long or short term. Since teams are limited to how many players can be on the active roster during the season, it’s important to know situations that are in place so we aren’t set back by losing a guy to injury.

Since we can dress a total of 18 players dressed on game day, we will have 2 or 3 guys on reserve or what you would call our benched players. It is common to have a player on reserve if they have a minor injury that only requires a few games off the ice.

If a player is injured for a long period of time, they’ll be placed on the 21-day injury reserve and we’ll be able to sign another player since players on that list aren’t considered active. They won’t be able to come back until at least 21 days have passed.

In the event that one of our goaltenders is injured or gets recalled to one of our affiliates, the team is able to sign a local guy for a few games as an emergency backup goaltender. You may hear about goaltending coaches coming in as backup or even a benched player sitting as backup, just like Jimmy Bonneau did for our Worcester Sharks a few years ago.

Salaries and Salary Caps

During the first 30 days of the 2017-18 season, the team may pay their players a minimum of $9,700 and a maximum of $13,260 per week. This is due to teams being allowed an extra roster spot. After the 30 days, the minimum stays at $9,700 and the maximum is lowered to $12,800.

Players who have played fewer than 25 games in the Regular Season are rookies and have a different weekly salary cap from veterans. They may make a minimum of $460 and a maximum of $540 per week during the 2017-18 season. If the However, once they play more than 25 games this will change.

For all other players who are not rookies, they can make a minimum of $500 per week. A maximum for each week is not defined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. For players assigned to the Railers, the Railers will pay $525 and it will cost the team the same amount in cap space. The team they are under contract with pays the difference.

Rookies and Veterans

The ECHL CBA limits how many veterans can be on an ECHL team’s active roster. Each team is limited to no more than 4 veterans on its active roster.

A veteran in hockey is a skater who has played in at least 260 regular season games. A Rookie is a player who has played in less than 25 regular season games.

Free Agency, Protected Lists, and Player Contracts

In just two weeks the Worcester Railers will be able to sign their first players to contracts. According to Eric Lindquist, Head Coach Jamie Russell has a list of players who he is looking to sign once June 16 comes. Since the Railers do not have any players, protected lists won’t have any affect until the 2018 off-season.

Last week, the league released the full list of Protected Players for each ECHL team. Protected Lists allow teams to have first “dibs” to sign their former players from the previous season. Teams have two weeks (until June 15 at 11:59 PM) to submit their season ending roster, which may include up to 20 of those players and cannot include any players who did not sign an ECHL contract in 2016-17. Teams can reserve the rights 8 of those players (a maximum of 4 can be Veterans) by extending a qualifying offer before July 1. Players who aren’t put on a season-ending roster can be signed by other ECHL teams on June 16.

Per ECHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, players are eligible to be protected if they:

  1. Signed an SPC in 2016-17 with the member, and has not been traded or released.
  2. Signed an SPC in 2016-17, was recalled to the NHL/AHL or an IIHF team, and has not been traded or released.
  3. Had received a qualifying offer last summer for the current season, DID NOT sign an SPC, and has not been traded or released.
  4. Has been suspended by the member or league, and has not been traded or released.
  5. Signed an SPC on or after the first day of the 2016-17 regular season, then subsequently signed an NHL/AHL contract, and has not been traded or released.
  6. Has executed the ECHL retirement form, and has not been traded or released.

Players with open qualifying offers cannot be traded. Should the team sign players to a contact before July 1, they will not be required to extend qualifying offers to those contracted players. Qualifying offers must remain open for acceptance until August 1, at which time the qualifying offer becomes null and void and the team may sign the qualified player to any salary or may elect to take no further action. Teams that extend a valid qualifying offer to a non-veteran player shall retain the rights to that qualified player for one playing season.

For veterans and goaltenders who have played in more than 180 regular season games, teams may retain their rights until August 1. If they are not signed to a contact by the team, they will be considered restricted free agents and are entitled to seek and secure offers by other ECHL teams.

Players who are restricted free agents cannot be traded. Restricted Free Agents may receive offers from other ECHL teams. If the player accepts an offer, the offering member must notify the ECHL, the team with the player’s rights, and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association within 24 hours. The team with the Player’s rights have a right to match the contract offer.

If a restricted free agent is not signed to either an offer sheet or a contact by August 31, the player will become an unrestricted free agent.

List of Worcester Hockey Alumni on 2017 protected lists (full credit for this goes to 210Sports):

  • Adirondack – JP Anderson
  • Allen – Chad Costello, Spencer Asuchak, Chad Costello, Riley Gill, Greger Hanson
  • Atlanta – Brock Higgs
  • Cincinnati – Andrew Blazek
  • Florida – Curt Gogol
  • Greenville – Scott Fleming
  • Idaho – Kyle Bigos
  • Kalamazoo – Sacha Guimond, Lane Scheidl
  • Manchester – Daniel Doremus, Ashton Rome
  • Norfolk – Kevin Henderson
  • Orlando – Chris Crane, Taylor Doherty
  • Reading – Mike Pereira
  • South Carolina – Derek DeBlois, Trevor Gilles
  • Toledo – Dane Walters
  • Utah – Mike Banwell, Michael Pelech
  • Wheeling – Riley Brace
  • Wichita – Vincent Arseneau

Dates to Keep Track of for Rosters:

  • June 1, 2017 – Teams submit their protected lists to the League.
  • June 13, 2017 – Teams must finalize “future considerations” trades.
  • June 16, 2017 – Teams may begin signing players for the upcoming season.
  • July 1, 2017 – Deadline for teams to reserve rights to players by submitting a qualifying offer.
  • August 1, 2017 – Deadline for teams to offer contracts to Veterans. Veterans who are not offered contracts or qualifying offers become restricted free agents.
  • August 31, 2017 – Deadline for teams to sign Restricted Free Agents to either an offer sheet or a contract. Restricted Free Agents who are not signed will become Unrestricted Free Agents and may sign with any team.
  • September 28, 2017 – Team rosters are due for training camp.
  • October 11, 2017 – Team rosters are due for opening day.
  • November 11, 2017 – Team rosters must be cut to 20 players.
  • Late December 2017 – Christmas Waiver/Trade Freeze (Dates TBA)
  • Early March 2018 – Recall/Reassignment Deadline (Date TBA)
  • Early March 2018 – ECHL Trade Deadline (Date TBA)
  • Early April 2018 – Last Day to place a Player on Waivers (Date TBA)

Further Reading: