A new two-year agreement reached last week by the Central Hockey League and Professional Hockey Players Association could help CHL teams add experience to their rosters.
For now, though, the Quad-City Mallards aren't likely to follow that blueprint.
Mallards coach and director of hockey operations Frank Anzalone said he was poised to enlist a provision in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that would allow a team to exempt half of one key player's salary from the league's weekly cap of $10,200.
"I had a really, really, really good one," Anzalone said of an NHL-drafted skater with Elite European and American Hockey League experience. "At the last minute, he got an offer to Austria that he could not refuse. It was a lot of money."
Meanwhile, Anzalone insisted, the $10,200 a week cap, which is $2,800 less than the former International Hockey League allowed a year ago, doesn't seem to stretch well enough to accommodate the new CHL limit of six veteran skaters.
Goaltenders also are exempt from the veteran limit, meaning, with the exempt player allowance, teams legally could field as many as eight players who have played more than 300 professional games. If they can make it work cap-wise, that is.
"But you've only got $10,200 to do that with," Anzalone said, puzzling over the math. "The average vet player doesn't play for $450 (a week). He plays for $600, $700, $850. So, when you look at the whole thing, how do you have that many vets?"
One obvious way, he noted, is taking advantage of a previously existing program the CHL renewed in the new agreement, one that allows teams to employ players in office positions over the offseason.
That is something Anzalone had hoped to use to keep Chris Lipsett, last year's second-leading Q-C scorer and clear-cut team leader. But he said the melding of five former IHL teams and expansion Evansville into the CHL wasn't completed in time to meet a deadline to make that happen.
Lipsett subsequently has signed on as an assistant coach with former IHL rival Dayton, and could become a player-coach before next month's opening faceoff.
As it stands, Anzalone has 24 skaters and three goaltenders under contract, although only 23 of those players have been announced so far.
Only one of those 23 players, returning defenseman Tyler Kindle, meets the veteran criteria.
Division rival Bloomington, meanwhile, has three veterans among seven announced signings. Fort Wayne, which is nearing a full training camp contingent, also has three vets.
Anzlalone hopes to add as many as three more players before camp opens on Oct. 4, but, at most, only one would be a veteran, and that's only if Anzalone can find a player worthy of the exempt player status.
"There are going to be some guys not getting into the (AHL) this year," he noted. "But are they willing to play in the Central League?"
Either way, Anzalone said he is not concerned with his team's experience level.
He said his two top goalie prospects have more than three pro seasons under their belts, as do the bulk of his defensemen.
"I think we're young, but not baby young," he said.
Are you experienced?
(Announced Mallards signees and their pro experience.)
Player Pos. Pro games
Tyler Kindle D 388
Jason Kostadine F 284
Michel Robinson G 274
Darren McMillan D 270
Patrik Levesque F 259
Zach Pearson C 242
Ryan Palmer D 240
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Mike McLean F 204
Mike Hartwick D 163
Obi Aduba F 77
Brandon Marino F 73
Shane Lovdahl D 72
Eric Giosa C 61
Jason Reese C 57
Maxime Mathieu F 46
Kirill Kitsyn F 29
Nick DeCroo F 4
Players with no pro experience: F Phil Axtell, F Mike Byrd, D Dustin DeGagne, F Jason Dolgy, C Mark Ehl, D Omar Pacha.
300 games constitutes veteran status in the Central Hockey League. Goaltenders do not count against the league's six veteran limit.