There’s an advantage to focusing on European goaltenders

It’s no secret that an ever-increasing percentage of NHL goaltenders come from Europe. Less known is the fact that the new collective bargaining agreement gives teams substantially more flexibility when it comes to drafting goaltenders developed in Europe than in North America.


Strictly speaking, the advantage applies to all drafted European players but it is particularly relevant for goaltenders, because they have a long development curve and can be difficult to predict based on the short span between draft day and the time an NHL team needs to decide whether or not to sign them to an entry-level contract. Here’s the quote from the summary of terms for the new CBA:

NHL Clubs who draft European players age 18 or 19 shall obtain four (4) years of exclusive negotiating rights following selection in the draft. NHL Clubs who draft Europeans age 20 or older shall obtain two (2) years of exclusive negotiating rights following selection in the Draft. If the four-year or two-year (as appropriate) period expires, Player will be eligible to enter the League as a Free Agent and will not be subject to re-entering the Draft.

In other words, if a team drafts project goalie John Johnson out of Spokane they get two years to decide whether he’s worth an entry-level contract. Draft Jonas Johansson out of Stockholm, and that jumps to four years.

Clarification: As Garik16 points out on Twitter, the quote above doesn’t mention North American negotiating rights. The 2013 NHL CBA summary of terms doesn’t mention any change in that regard, though it does mention minutia such as the need to "Delete CBA references to 1995 Form SPC’s", indicating that the status quo (two-year negotiating rights) remains the same from the last CBA to this one.  

The Oilers

Craig MacTavish may have had those new rules in my mind when he made the following comment at his year-end press conference:

We’re going to add another goaltending expert, hopefully a guy that we can find over in Europe. We’ll be definitely looking for that to identify the next up-and-coming goaltenders, because you’re right we lack depth in that area, which is a bad thing in one respect, but in another respect it presents opportunity for goalies that are looking for opportunity, that are ready to come into your organization and make that step.

Edmonton has spent draft picks on European goaltenders in previous years. Frans Tuohimaa, who recently signed with the club (and is pictured above), is one example; Samu Perhonen is another. With so many quality draft picks and quality free agents in Europe every year, it only makes sense to post a goaltending scout there. With the built-in time advantage for young goalie selections, it actually may make sense for NHL organizations to put more emphasis on European goaltenders than their North American brethren.

Recently around the Nation Network

Remember that knee-on-knee hit that knocked Eric Staal out of the World Championships – a hit delivered by Swedish defender Alexander Edler? Thomas Drance reports that Edler’s Suspension for Staal Hit Could Extend Into Sochi Games

The latest reports surfacing from Swedish media outlet Aftonbladet on Saturday afternoon suggest that Alex Edler’s suspension may extend into the 2014 Olympic tournament in Sochi. National team manager Tommy Boutsedt even described Edler’s punishment (via Google Translate) as "basically a lifetime ban."

 Click the link above to read the whole piece, or feel free check out some recent pieces here at Oilers Nation:

  • Am I missing something about this kneeing incident? Ya it’s a bad knee, definately deserves a suspension…..But this seems a bit extreme no?

    Let’s break the play down Shannaban style. Edler see’s Staal looking down at the puck and locks in on Staal with intent to deliver a body check.

    Staal shifts his weight and sweeps the puck across his body towards the net, altering his path slightly prior to the hit. The pass is blocked and the puck remains in Staal’s vicinity, he continues to have his head down and focused on the puck.

    Edler rotates and barely drops his shoulder anticipating contact with Staal’s upper body. Edler misses Staal’s shoulder/sternum/face and clips his knee.

    Clearly it’s a knee, deserving a major penalty…But a “LIFETIME BAN” This isn’t the Mcsorley Brashear Incident, or the Maki Green incident.

    • bleedingoil

      This isn’t the Mcsorley Brashear Incident, or the Maki Green incident.

      It also is not the NHL. Maybe if Shanaban policed like this, we would have less injuries and more room for the skills and less for the kills.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    He goes in a straight line, doesn’t stick knee out. Not much there by way of intent. He is responsible for kneeing, but that kind of suspension? I just don’t see it.

  • Lexi


    I don’t know much about how hockey franchises are structured, but one thing I’ve always thought is why wouldn’t they have a separate scouting and development department focused only on goalies. The skill set is completely separate from the rest of the players, it represents one sixth of a team’s ice-time, and with technology now the goalie scouting director can watch games from anywhere in the world. It seems like a good scouting director, with some effective historical stat analysis would be able to tie in his goalie department’s recommendations with where to then pick the guys in the draft.

  • RexLibris

    The first team/organization to crack the netminding code when it comes to drafting and developing could make a killing in trades. Being able to produce a reliable stream of (affordable – sorry Luongo) NHL calibre goaltenders to then trade out to other GMs for scoring forwards and blueline depth would be invaluable.

    I’m not saying that is what the Oilers are going to accomplish here, but bringing in a European scout to focus entirely on that talent pool is a good step.

  • Czar


    After the year Bunz had they need all the help they can get.The kid appeared to have all the tools and by all accounts was an excellent prospect. The same was said about Roy, never saw him play live and he does appear to be bouncing back somewhat but is it the prospects or the developement program, coaching? I saw Bunz play several times in the WHL and the kid was every bit as impressive as a few goalies who’ve made it to the NHL.He was way better than Doobie was at that age IMO.I hope he can turn it around because we are definately thin on goaltending prospects.