The Toledo Walleye are navigating an offseason like no other. As summer gives way to fall, the Red Wings’ ECHL affiliate is still signing players to ECHL contracts, expecting the ECHL season to begin in December.
Walleye coach Dan Watson spoke with the Toledo Blade’s Mark Monroe regarding his roster strategy (which has involved signing a significant number of “second-year pros”), as well as the lack of a trickle-down effect from the AHL this offseason:
Grand Rapids has provided forwards and defensemen to Toledo throughout the franchises’ 11-year affiliation, but AHL teams have signed fewer depth players due to budget cuts and uncertainty this offseason.
“We have players on our roster this year that, in a typical year, would be signing American League contracts,” Watson said. “We are fortunate to have them here in Toledo.”
Watson said he is still fielding phone calls as he fills out the remaining spots on his roster. He said he believes there are some players who have not signed AHL contracts or with teams in Europe who could sign in October or November.
“I want to have the best team on the ice as possible,” he said. “I still think there is a crop of guys out there that will be available. The biggest key is that we already have a really nice core right now.”
Continued with an excellent summary of the Walleye’s more high-profile signings;
As neither the Walleye, Griffins or Red Wings know when their respective leagues’ seasons will begin, many available players have signed deals with European teams, and others are waiting for the NHL’s free agency period to begin to ink professional contracts. It’s a strange mix of unknowns on top of unknowns in terms of roster construction in the ECHL, AHL and NHL right now.