Traditionally, a National Hockey League club gets about a year to decide what to do with a recently drafted player. Usually teams have two seasons to decide whether to ink their draftees (it’s a bit longer for college and European players), and even in the case of draftees taken in their second or third time in the draft pool teams usually get some time to digest before deciding. (A recent example of that is current AHLer Austin Carroll, who went back for his overage year in the Western Hockey League before signing and going pro.)
But for 2016 seventh round selection Stepan Falkovsky, things are a bit complicated.
Per Jason Pirie’s profile of Falkovsky on the Flames site, Falkovsky’s not expected back with the Ottawa 67’s next season:
“Unfortunately, being an import and an overager he would take up two
spots here,” Brown said. “We would have liked him back, but there is an
unknown of hanging onto him. He adapted well at this level and I expect
he’ll do the same at the next one.”
The 67’s have returning import Artur Tyanulin in the fold for next season – he had 52 points last season – and they drafted Russian-born defender Andrei Golikov in last month’s import draft, so both of the team’s import spots are likely spoken for. In addition, teams generally don’t carry “two-spotters” (players that are imports and 20 years old) because they hamstring a club’s flexibility. I’d be shocked if he got snagged by another CHL club for the same reasons the 67’s likely don’t want him back.
That leaves the pro ranks, which have their own wrinkles.
The Flames could always sign him to an entry-level deal and tuck him in the AHL or ECHL, but they already have oodles of defenders under contract and will have a tough time managing the numbers game. A similar challenge would face them if they signed him to an AHL deal in terms of juggling bodies, and it’s unclear as to whether signing him to a minor-league deal would impact how long they maintain his NHL rights for.
All in all, it’s a very murky situation, and the Flames will have to likely jump through some hoops in order to find him a place to play.