|Each team is entitled to reserve the rights to a maximum of eight qualified players. Of the eight qualified players, no more than four can be veterans (260 regular season professional hockey games played as of the start of the upcoming 2018-19 season). Players on open qualifying offers cannot be traded.
The qualifying offer must remain open for acceptance until July 16 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 July 16. After July 16, 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. 1, the player shall be deemed an unrestricted free agent.