Grayson Downing and the AHL rule

The Edmonton Oilers signed center Grayson Downing early in free agency (July 1). The entire group of UFA’s signed by Edmonton that day were mostly AHL types who will populate the Bakersfield roster and serve as possible NHL recalls. One of the ways we can suss out the actual value of these free agent are their minor league deals:

  • LD Ryan Stanton:  $300k AHL and $400k guaranteed.
  • R Ty Rattie: $275 AHL.
  • R Mitch Callahan. $225k AHL.
  • LC Grayson Downing. $175k AHL.
  • G Edward Pasquale. $150k AHL.
  • LD Keegan Lowe. $100k AHL.
  • R Brian Ferlin. $80k AHL.
  • Source

Stanton, Rattie and Callahan are seasoned veterans, I wondered why Downing received this kind of AHL money. Part of the reason probably has to do with the AHL ‘veterans rule’:

  • Of the 18 skaters (not counting two goaltenders) that teams may dress for a regular-season game, at least 13 must be qualified as “development players.” Of those 13, 12 must have played in 260 or fewer professional games (including AHL, NHL, IHL and European elite leagues), and one must have played in 320 or fewer professional games. All calculations for development status are based on regular-season totals as of the start of the season. Source

That’s a massive roster restriction. Let’s do a quick calculation of the new skaters and where they land on the 260-320 axis.

  • Ryan Stanton: 452 (332 AHL, 120 NHL)
  • Mitch Callahan: 370 (365 AHL, 5 NHL)
  • Keegan Lowe: 261 (259 AHL, 2 NHL) (qualifies only under 320 rule)
  • Ty Rattie: 249 (215 AHL, 34 NHL) (qualifies under both restrictions)
  • Grayson Downing: 120 (120 AHL)
  • Brian Ferlin: 85 (78 AHL, 7 NHL)

Stanton, Callahan and Lowe will gobble up veteran roles, but Rattie, Downing and Ferlin qualify as prospects under the AHL rules. It’s an important distinction and informs the free-agent movement on July 1.

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Downing had an impressive AHL debut, finishing No. 14 among AHL rookies in 2015-16 scoring. He struggled last season, got himself traded (to Arizona) in the Martin Hanzal deal.


  • Hockey’s Future: Downing is a decently-built, late blooming offensively oriented forward who added bulk and strength during his college career at New Hampshire. He has a hard, accurate shot and is more of a sniper than a playmaking forward. There isn’t a great deal of flash and he will likely have to develop the supplementary aspects of his game to have a chance of playing at the NHL level one day. He plays with a feistiness to his game though that recklessness has sometimes led to missed time due to injury during his junior and college careers. Source

Downing is an interesting prospect and he qualifies in all restrictions at the AHL level. It will allow men like Ryan Hamilton to play for Bakersfield and force men like Kyle Platzer and Greg Chase to earn their playing time. Edmonton’s lack of forward prospects forced Peter Chiarelli to go outside the organization and find men like Downing, Ty Rattie and Brian Ferlin. Can they help the NHL team? We wait.

  • hockey1099

    I think lowetide knows everything about every rule in all the leagues. I had no idea these restrictions existed. Kinda of makes it difficult to have a long ahl career . Only 5 spots for guys to good for the ahl but not good for the show. Aka Anton lander.

  • O.C.

    Did not know this. The gut response of “Let them rot in the minors”, just doesn’t work. You have room for a couple vets (e.g. Fayne) to teach. A couple of career fan favourites to identify with, and one spot for a vet to rehab.
    Better have a Europe back up plan after 3 seasons in the A