The Oilers have been in a bit of CBA-related hot water lately. They’ve apparently decided that the best way to avoid it in the future is not to talk about it.
I wasn’t entirely sure the Oilers had to do anything this spring with [unsigned prospect Kristians] Pelss because he was drafted out of Latvia. I was uncertain if Latvia was like Sweden and Finland, countries with a transfer agreement that means NHL teams have two years to sign players drafted from there. That’s not the case with Russia and I didn’t know if Latvia shared that scenario… I tried to get clarification from the Oilers but was flatly denied. I was told that information like that was not something the NHL team would share with the media. I found that odd so placed a call to another contact employed by an NHL team and in less than 5 minutes I got the answers I needed.
Flaming suggests that perhaps the Oilers were hoping to avoid another CBA-related gaffe.
It’s something the Oilers have had problems with in the past when they’ve talked to Flaming. In late April of 2010, they told him that “[Teemu] Hartikainen is under contract in Finland and we can’t sign him until he is relieved of his contractual obligations over there."
A bunch of commenters promptly told Flaming that there was a transfer agreement in place that allowed the Oilers to sign Hartikainen prior to the end of his contract.
Flaming went back to the Oilers. This time, the team responded with a different rationale, saying, "the Finnish Agreement calls for 2008 Drafted Players to be signed by their drafting club by June 15, 2010.”
This is where Derek Zona re-enters the fray. He’d been one of the commenters telling Flaming that a transfer agreement was in place and that the Oilers’ original information was wrong. Zona contacted six different sources, including a player agent, people in the AHL and NHL, and two people in Finland’s SM-Liiga. There was disagreement on whether June 1 or June 15 was the date, but there was complete agreement that the Oilers did not have to wait for Hartikainen’s contract to expire.
The next day, the Oilers contacted Flaming to explain that both of their earlier statements were wrong. "The correct date for Hartikainen is June 1st,” they told him. Flaming notes that the team contacted the league office for clarification on the rules.
In the end, it was a minor story that was ignored by most. The Oilers signed Hartikainen a week later. Had they waited until after June 1, or worse, until after his contract in Finland expired (one of Zona’s contacts stated that it ran through the 2010-11 season) then he would have re-entered the draft. Was the minor controversy what prompted them to look at things deeper? Maybe, though one hopes they were going to confirm dates anyway.
Either way, it appears the organization doesn’t want a repeat of the incident. So, rather than run the risk of showing publicly that they’re confused about something, they’ll say nothing to Flaming. It’s the safe course of action, at least as long as they make sure that they keep getting their prospects under contract in a timely fashion.
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