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.
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."
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