With his junior eligibility now complete, Rafael Harvey-Pinard was going to be turning pro next season. The question would be whether or not he’d get an NHL or an AHL deal. It’s the latter as Laval announced Friday that they’ve signed him to a one-year, one-way deal.
The 21-year-old was a seventh-round pick the Canadiens back in 2019 (201st overall) in his third and final year of eligibility. He was coming off of a strong showing in the QMJHL postseason and Memorial Cup which was enough for Montreal to take a flyer on him to secure his rights over potentially trying to sign him as an undrafted free agent.
This season, he was the captain in Chicoutimi and while his numbers dipped a little bit relative to last season, he still led the Sagueneens in scoring by a 26-point margin over soon-to-be-former Montreal prospect Samuel Houde. Overall, Harvey-Pinard picked up 34 goals and 44 assists in 62 games before the COVID-19 pandemic ended their season early.
By going the AHL contract route, the Habs aren’t forced to commit a three-year, entry-level deal right away. They can evaluate his progress with Laval and if they’re pleased with his progress, they can sign him to an NHL deal a year from now. If things don’t go as well, they can leave him unsigned and lose his rights in June of 2021. With a lot of prospects needing contracts over the next few years, this type of flexibility will certainly be beneficial.