Alexander Nylander is probably going to be Calgary’s first round pick on June 24.
That’s the main takeaway from this week’s 30 Thoughts column from Sportsnet’s guru Elliotte Freidman:
is “gaining momentum,” as one executive put it, days after the London
Knight bulled his way through the Memorial Cup. You know the NHL’s
preoccupation with skilled power forwards, and he certainly qualifies.
Conventional wisdom is Auston Matthews goes first to Toronto, with
Patrik Laine following to Winnipeg. I think we all expected Jesse
Puljujarvi to go third, but it sure sounds like Tkachuk is pushing his
way into the picture.
If you follow the general progression, Tkachuk perhaps going to Columbus would potentially bump Jesse Puljijarvi down to Edmonton at fourth overall and Pierre-Luc Dubois to Vancouver at fifth overall – presuming neither team throws a wrench into things by electing to grab a defender with their picks. And presuming that the Flames don’t go off the board and grab a defender at sixth overall, Nylander is the logical fit.
Moreover, choosing Nylander may be a really savvy move for reasons beyond the fact that it’d be a homecoming for the Calgary-born player. He could also qualify for the unicorn of CBA oddities: the five-year entry-level contract.
There are two main documents governing player movement for junior-aged players: the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement and the NHL’s working agreement with the Canadian Hockey League.
Under the terms of Article 9.1(d) of the CBA, a player that signs their entry-level contract when they’re 18 can have up to two “slide years” in their deal if they don’t play 10+ games in the NHL in each of those first two seasons. For most players that’s not big deal, as they’re in major-junior for those two seasons – goalie prospect Nick Schneider is a good example of this as he has a deal, but since he’s in junior it’ll slide twice.
But European players are a bit of an oddity, and one that provides an interesting opportunity.
In last year’s draft, the Flames selected Oliver Kylington in the second round. He was under contract to a European club – Farjestads BK – and played for a European club – AIK – the season before he was drafted. Because he was a European drafted out of Europe he was able to come to North America and play in the American Hockey League despite being selected in the CHL’s Import Draft. The main factor here was his specific contractual status, as him being drafted while playing in Europe and being contracted to a European team was the primary reason he could come to the AHL straight away.
As a result, Kylington played a full pro season in the AHL as an 18-year-old without activating his entry-level deal (it slid a year), and most likely he’ll play a full AHL season in 2016-17 without his deal activating either. His NHL contract will probably start running in 2017-18, when he’s 20 and has already played two full seasons which didn’t contractually count.
Nylander’s situation is a little bit murkier.
He’s playing for the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads on a loan from Rogle BK of the SHL, so technically he’s not subject to the NHL/CHL agreement because of his contractual status. Dallas’ 2014 first round pick Julius Honka was drafted out of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos, but will officially begin his entry-level deal in 2016-17 – after two seasons in the AHL – because he was on a loan from his Finnish club team when he was drafted.
Nylander is a really good junior player. He was nearly a primary point-per-game player on a team that wasn’t wildly stacked. He was one of the OHL’s most dangerous offensive weapons and is a right-handed shot that can play either wing. In addition to that versatility, he’s one of the few players in the top-end of this year’s draft that the Flames could really take an active role in developing. With the college kids or the other junior kids, it’s usually NHL-or-bust. With Nylander, he could be signed right away and give himself the option of NHL, AHL, OHL or SHL for 2016-17.
If it’s a choice between a handful of similarly-skilled teenage players, I’d take a gamble on the one that I could help mold right away.
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