Imagine how a GM's head hurts trying to keep up with movement all over the place. It is kind of fun to compare the USHL lists with the CHL lists and try and figure out what the USHL folks are doing. Lincoln has me stumped unless he considers those 97s have value.
Glenn, all franchises are not created equally. Some are more resourced (money) than others, not breaking news. A franchise that purely wants to win can't pay players to come (they can pay a franchise from another league from around the world for a player though assuming he'll come) but they can pay management types to monitor and network the world to be the first to take advantage of any changes that makes players available. ...... And yea as you mention it can be fun to monitor this kind of administrative end of the sport if you know how to do so, which I don't. IMO jr hockey is the toughest of all sports to follow even in this world of Google we live in. And the unknown or secrecy is the most fertile of grounds for speculation and rumor.
Now I haven't followed the protected lists per say of USHL clubs over the yrs. The league has not exactly made it easy to do so. But IIRC the vast majority of the league doesn't come close to using the 4 overager spots available (be glad to be corrected on this). Overagers are generally role players and not difference makers per say, generally, unlike Major Junior where many OA are shackled due to The Indentured Servitude Clause and are difference makers or at least more than role players. Another stark difference between MJ and the USHL.
Didn't realize LIN had 7 OA's protected until you mentioned it and like you don't understand it. The Steel by the way have one protected, CR none and powerhouse DBQ two for instance. Again haven't followed this much but it would seem if you have so many OA's protected on a list of precious few spots you have a dearth of players who would be something other than role players.
We'll know once the 23 man lists are hammered out.
Yes it is fun and fans do it year round. Helps if you have done it before I guess. Right on about money it must be nice to be a Steel fan don't they have the biggest administrative staff in the league, sure looks like it.