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Solar Bears seem to indicate affiliation continues for this year

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Catch up on the summer news from Orlando and learn a bit about how contracts work in the ECHL.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It's that time of year, when ECHL fan bases wonder if their teams will have an AHL and NHL affiliation for the upcoming season. The Orlando Solar Bears seemed to indicate that the Toronto affiliation will continue for the 2017-2018 season, although no official announcement has been made.

While the affiliation has been sometimes frustrating (see games 5 through 7 of last year's playoffs, or the revolving door between Orlando and Toronto last season leaving the Bears often shorthanded) it remains a positive in terms of the talent that is available.

In other Solar Bears news, the team extended qualifying offers to eight players for next season. Orlando’s qualifying offers are as follows:

FORWARDS: Darik Angeli, Milos Bubela, Justin Buzzeo, Joe Perry and Ethan Werek (V)

DEFENSEMEN: Chris Bradley and Taylor Doherty (V)

GOALTENDERS: Ryan Massa

V = Veteran players as of the start of the upcoming 2017-18 season

Players who had already signed a contract by June 30 did not need to receive a qualifying offer.

The qualifying offer must remain open for acceptance until Aug. 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.

A team that extends a valid qualifying offer to a veteran player will retain the rights to that veteran until Aug. 1. After Aug. 1, if the veteran player is not signed to a contract by the team, the veteran shall be deemed a restricted free agent and shall be entitled to seek and secure offers of employment from other ECHL teams. Restricted free agents may not be traded.

When a restricted free agent receives a contract offer from a team other than the team with the player’s rights and the restricted free agent wishes to accept the contract offer, the restricted free agent and the offering member must, within 24 hours, notify the ECHL, the team with the player’s rights and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association. The member with the player’s rights shall have seven days after the date it is notified to exercise its right to match the contract offer.

If a restricted free agent is not signed to either an offer sheet or a contract by an ECHL team by Aug. 31, the player shall be deemed an unrestricted free agent.

With the affiliation to the Marlies and the Leafs looking like it will continue, the Solar Bears can expect some new AHL signings to make their way south.