The Providence College Friars lost to New Hampshire on Sunday, which ended their quest for a Hockey East conference championship. For now, their status for the NCAA’s annual national championship tournament is up in the air, as they’re one of several contenders for “at-large” bids, and their chances are contingent on which teams win which conferences.
Which brings us to Calgary Flames 2012 third round draft pick Jon Gillies.
A SIGNING OF SOME SORT
For the sake of this discussion, let’s presume that Gillies comes to terms with the Calgary Flames on an entry-level deal. I boast no inside information, besides a general understanding that Gillies is a top-flight collegiate netminder.
He’s played 104 games in the NCAA. He’s won 56 of them, more than half. He’s got a .931 save percentage over that 104 games and 13 shutouts. He’s a good goalie, and let’s presume that he has very little left to prove at the NCAA level. And Calgary only has Joni Ortio and Jonas Hiller signed for next season, so there’s a good chance they have a high interest level in him, as well.
So let’s presume he signs.
He’s a 21-year-old player, so under the CBA he gets a two-year entry-level deal (like Bill Arnold signed). And thus, there are two options in front of him.
SIGN, GO TO THE AHL
Let’s say that Jon Gillies is fine with merely getting his signing bonus. Let’s say that he is super-stoked to be a pro and really wants to get to know the coaching staff he’ll be working with (presuming) next season in Stockton. If he goes to the American Hockey League on an amateur try-out basis, his entry-level deal does not start running but he has the ability to jump in and play.
Oh, and the Adirondack Flames allowed eight goals in their last game, so they could use some goaltending help.
There’s two main reasons he might not do this. One, the Baby Flames already brought in Northeastern University goaltender Clay Witt on a try-out. Having four goalies on one team seems excessive. Two, and more importantly, this option gives him the chance to go to the AHL, but his NHL deal doesn’t start running, which impacts how quickly he can hit free agency, arbitration, waivers and all sorts of fun things.
SIGN, GO TO CALGARY
If I were Gillies’ representatives, I’d hold out for a deal that began the minute he signed it. He could come to Calgary, get to know the coaching staff, soak in the atmosphere of a team pushing for a playoff spot and generally get acclimated to the pro environment.
Heck, he could practice with the injured players and extra bodies and get some schooling from Jordan Sigalet in the process.
His deal would begin to run, he’d get some NHL money in his pocket, and he’d get a head start on free agency, arbitration and waivers and all that. This is the option that basically every notable signee the Flames have gotten from the college ranks has opted for, likely for the simple reason that teams trying to get NCAA players to sign typically don’t have a lot of leverage (and players like getting their contracts running as soon as humanly possible).
SUM IT UP
Selection Sunday for the NCAA men’s hockey tournament is coming up on March 22. If Providence College isn’t named as a participant, I’d keep an ear out for news regarding Jon Gillies.
But again, it’s just a suspicion.