Times Colonist

Few surprises as Salmon Kings unveil protected list

Now team must reduce 20-player list down to just eight by July 1

- CLEVE DHEENSAW

The Victoria Salmon Kings completed some basic housekeepi­ng by protecting 20 players yesterday, even three who have signed to player in Europe for next season.

ECHL teams are allowed to protect an unlimited number of players this month but must be down to eight players on the protected list by July 1.

“It’s basically everyone who was on our playoff roster,” said Salmon Kings head coach and GM Mark Morrison, of the list released yesterday.

“It doesn’t mean these are players we are keeping or the ones who will or will not be back. These are all the guys who have the possibilit­y of being back.”

The Salmon Kings have no control over the status of affiliated players who are or were under contract to the Vancouver Canucks of the NHL or Manitoba Moose of the AHL — Patrick Coulombe, Julien Ellis, Marc-Andre Bernier, Matt Kelly and Dylan Yeo — and those five are not included on the protected list.

The Salmon Kings’ protected list is Paul Ballantyne, Darren Deschamps, Jacob Dietrich, Kevin Estrada, Milan Gajic, Gary Gladue, Ash Goldie, Wes Goldie, Derek Krestanovi­ch, Jordan Krestanovi­ch, Brady Leavold, Darryl Lloyd, Kiel McLeod, Chris St. Jacques, Billy Thompson, Ryan Wade, Brad Zanon, Martin Thibeault, Mike Stutzel and Ty Morris.

Forwards Estrada and Ash Goldie and defenceman Ballantyne have reportedly signed to play in Europe and McLeod and Gajic could be headed to the AHL.

Morrison confirmed former NHLer Jordan Krestanovi­ch, who finished the season as captain, is also looking into Europe.

“Jordan is exploring options and is at the point in his career when he is thinking about Europe and making some money,” said Morrison.

“But it doesn’t mean he won’t be back. It’s always a wait-and-see game at this point of the late spring while the players explore their options.”

In fact, the season isn’t even over yet.

Morrison predicted there is some fight left in the National Conference-champion Las Vegas Wranglers, who trail the Kelly Cup final 3-2 heading into Game 6 tomorrow against the American Conference­champion Cincinnati Cyclones and likely facing a jacked-up crowd of up to 12,000 at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincy.

“They are really up against it, but I think the Wranglers have the talent and tenacity to come back . . . and they are a very solid road team,” said Morrison.

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