More CBA Confusion

USA v Finland

Teemu Hartikainen, pictured above, is one of the Oilers’ more interesting prospects. Drafted in the sixth round of 2008, Hartikainen must be signed by June 1 or else the Oilers will lose his rights and he’ll re-enter the draft.

Hartikainen has taken big strides since being drafted. Over two full seasons in the top Finnish league, he’s shown a willingness to play a physical game, and a surprising goal-scoring touch. He’s not a perfect player – skating is listed in most scouting reports as an area that needs work – but sandpaper and goal-scoring is a rare combination, and one that he might be able to showcase at the major league level in a few years, assuming that he gets signed.

There’s been some confusion as to when Hartikainen needs to be signed by.

On April 26, Guy Flaming passed on news that the Oilers had told him Hartikainen didn’t need to be signed by the June 1 deadline:

“Hartikainen is under contract in Finland and we can’t sign him until he is relieved of his contractual obligations over there.”

Flaming’s comment section disagreed with that assessment; the NHL recently signed a transfer agreement with Finland meaning that players under contract in the SM-liiga could be signed and brought over to North America.

So, Flaming went back to the Oilers looking for clarification, and on May 3 published what he’d been told:

“The Finnish Agreement calls for 2008 Drafted Players to be signed by their drafting club by June 15, 2010. If not signed then the players re-enter the Draft.”

Derek Zona of Copper & Blue, who has spent some time following Hartikainen’s career, decided to try and confirm whether what the Oilers told Flaming was in fact true. Not so much, as it turned out.

First, the Oilers initial position that Hartikainen couldn’t be signed until his Finnish contract expired was completely wrong. Zona approached a source in the SM-liiga, who told him that Hartikainen was signed through 2011 by KalPa, but that he could come to North America if signed by the Oilers. As Zona points out, if the Oilers waited until that contract expired in 2011, Hartikainen would long since have re-entered the draft and seen his rights go to another NHL team.

The Oilers’ second statement to Flaming, highlighting the June 15 window, was something that different hockey people disagreed on. To quote Zona, who did a lot of legwork on this:

I spoke with an agent that represents various clients, including Finns and Swedes and he agrees with the Oilers, that the signing date is June 15th, 2010, not June 1st, 2010. I spoke with an AHL source with experience in transfers and he thought that June 15th was also the new date: “It’s June 1st for North American players and European players not contracted have until June 15th to sign.”

On the other side of this, a separate SM-Liiga source told me "…the contract deadline for all Finns taken in 2008 is June 1st, 2010. A source close to the NHL echoed that sentiment and told me that “the team would need to sign the player before June 1, 2010, otherwise the player will re-enter the 2010 NHL Draft.” Contacts in the front office of a Western Conference team confirmed the June 1 date, saying that “June 1 is the date by which they need to sign their draftees from Sweden and Finland or they are back in the draft.”

Either there are clauses that are not entirely clear in the Agreement, or it’s written in Kiswahili because a group of people involved in hockey as a living are arriving at markedly different conclusions after reading the document.

The day after Zona’s excellent article ran, the Oilers called up Flaming to let him know that they’d been in contact with the league office, and that June 15 was not the correct date – instead, they needed to have Hartikainen signed by June 1 in order to retain his rights.

This is the second year running that the team has had this sort of problem – last year Jason Gregor passed on the news that the team believed Gilbert Brule to be waiver exempt, information that led to an entertaining dispute in the comments and which eventually turned out to be wrong.

  • I guess the question then for the Oilers is has he developed enough to sign him to an entry level, 2-way deal. The second question would be does he want to come to the NHL. The third question would be why doesn’t the team have someone who understands and speaks gobblygook. It seems that thier is a need for an interpeter for the CBA as there is as much a need for a capologist.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    I think its retarded to debate over June 1st or June 15th if your looking at this from an Oilers standpoint. Yes, the team is a joke and dont have a clue as to what their doing, but if theyre planning on resigning him, then just do it now. Why wait? Are those extra 15 days going to make a difference?

  • Any thing is possible, I just don’t see Teemu Hartikainen being the next player on that short list.

    I’m not making a personal attack at anyone just using names to help my opinion just like everyone else.

    MacGregor has made some great but obvious picks.

    Arch you still have my vote buddy.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    While this shouldn’t be a real big issue in the end, I sure hope Pisani’s twin brother makes some real smart behind the scenes moves that we don’t see.

    Sure Boston made a mistake with Thomas and Philly made a mistake with Pronger, but those moves have yet to hurt then. When Chicago made the mistake there was consequences. Maybe this isn’t that big of a deal and the Oilers do nothing, but one has to think that we need someone that understands the CBA inside and out.

  • This is more of a question for the big guys in the know, but Olczyk is supposed to be our capologist / CBA guru.. this is at least the 2nd time (I’m thinking maybe 3rd or more) in recent memory where the Oilers have blown a CBA issue (the other was with Brule, and there is speculation that maybe they did it with Khabi – i.e. 35+ rule).

    Is this guy not doing his job properly? I mean really, bloggers and forumers are pulling up this info and doing better research. Only one guy (well, probably more than one guy) is getting paid to do it though.

    I have read parts of the CBA several times though and will say the Dead Sea Scrolls are probably easier to understand, but really they should be going to the league for clarification on this stuff if they are unsure. It shouldn’t take a blogger’s posting to initiate some action by our team (they called the NHL office to clarify).

    Maybe there is another job they need to take applications for..

    Perhaps Gregor/Brownlee can shed some light on the topic.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      The question becomes what does he do well, if he does more things well then he does bad maybe it’s not that big of deal.

      • Well, in honesty, I think if they’re running the risk of losing a Brule or a Hartikainen or anyone else, than I’m not sure it really matters that much what else he does well. Although, and it’s a slight change of stance from my previous post,perhaps maybe they just need some extra help with another guy who knows the CBA a bit better or who can focus on it more.