Though the news of a pair of New York Islander prospects dropping out of
college a year early and becoming UFA’s barely caused a ripple in the hockey
world, it has exposed a little known clause in the CBA that potentially could
impact several key prospects throughout the NHL, including some from the
Generally, it’s assumed that when a player going the US collegiate route gets
drafted, that team holds his rights until the end of his senior (fourth) season
in the NCAA. More often than not, that’s a correct assessment as most
draftees intending to play college hockey go right after being drafted.
There are some though who hang around and play a season in the USHL before
attending college. This
small difference is what can lead to a player becoming unrestricted a year
earlier than anticipated and is one Hab fans should pay attention to.
Here are the two relevant sections from the CBA, pay careful attention as there are
only a few small differences:
Article 8, Section 6, Subsection c (i):
If a Player drafted at age 18 or 19 is a bona fide college student at the
time of his selection in the Entry Draft, or becomes a bona fide college student
prior to the first June 1 following his selection in the Entry Draft, and
remains a bona fide college student through the graduation of his college class,
his drafting Club shall retain the exclusive right of negotiations for his
services through and including the August 15 following the graduation of his
In English? A team holds the rights of a college player for the
duration of his time in college (4 years) as
long as he goes there right after being drafted.
Article 8, Section 6, Subsection c (iv):
If a Player drafted at age 18 or 19 who had received a Bona Fide Offer …
becomes a bona fide college student prior to the second June 1 following his
selection in the Entry Draft and does not remain a bona fide college student
through the graduation of his college class, his drafting Club shall retain
exclusive rights for the negotiation of his services until the fourth June 1
following his selection in the Entry Draft.
In English? A player who doesn’t go to college right after being
drafted (the common example is playing in the USHL the next season) that drops
out (after his third, or junior, season) will have his rights held by the
drafting team for 4 years.
So, as I’m sure you’re all tired of reading CBA legalese by now, let’s get to
how this could affect the Habs. Over the past few years, the Canadiens
have drafted a lot of college-bound prospects. Some, like
Joe Stejskal and Dustin Walsh, go to school right away; those players apply to
the first CBA excerpt above, there’s nothing to worry about with them.
There are, however, several who have gone or will go the USHL route for a year
first. They are:
D Scott Kishel, 7th rounder in 2007
F Danny Kristo, 2nd rounder in 2008
D Mac Bennett, 3rd rounder in 2009
F Mark MacMillan, 4th rounder in 2010
D Colin Sullivan, 7th rounder in 2011
There’s one name that should stand out to most from that list, Danny Kristo.
Drafted in 2008, he played in the USHL in 2008-09 before going to college the
next year. He has completed two seasons at North Dakota and has said he
will play again there this year which is his junior year. 2012 is also the
fourth year since his selection which means Subsection c (iv) could apply
to him. If he so desired, he could drop out of college and become
unrestricted as early as next offseason.
You’ll note the usage of the hypotheticals in the last couple of sentences.
As there is no guarantee Kristo won’t sign before then nor is there one that
says he won’t stay for his senior year, this doesn’t mean for sure that he will
become a UFA next season. In both of these instances, the Habs would
retain his rights either by him signing or him staying at North Dakota
(Subsection c (iii) applies here for those interested but I’ll spare you reading
through that in detail).
So there you have it, a scenario exists where Kristo could sign elsewhere as
early as next July. That doesn’t mean that this route will be taken, but
it is there. A lot of people were caught by surprise when Jason Gregoire
and Blake Kessel (the now former Islander prospects referenced at the beginning)
dropped out of college a year early and were able to declare themselves as
unrestricted. Many feel the Islanders were unaware of this and were caught
flatfooted when it happened. Will Kristo do the same to the Habs?
It’s too early to tell but if I’m Pierre Gauthier, I’m wanting to gauge Kristo’s
intentions well before next June so that what happened on Long Island this past
happen in Montreal next July.