The Flames should sign Tyler Parsons before the end of 2016

Aside from some tweaks via injury call ups, it seems as if we’re into a rather quiet period for the Calgary Flames and newsworthy transactions. However, it shouldn’t be perceived that business is closed for Flames general manager Brad Treliving.

Based on the benefits of doing so and the club’s history of getting such deals done in similar circumstances, I fully expect the Flames to sign 2016 second round pick Tyler Parsons before the end of 2016.

Here’s why I’m so sure.

AHL ELIGIBILITY

If a player is drafted from the Canadian Hockey League, they’re not allowed to play in the American Hockey League until they’re 20. The “wiggle room” in the transfer agreement is that a player is considered 20 years old by the AHL and CHL if they’ll turn 20 before the end of the calendar year. For example, a player that has a 1996 birthday can play in the AHL this season as long as he turns 20 before the end of 2016.

A Flames example? Rasmus Andersson didn’t turn 20 until last month, but was considered a 20-year-old because he’s a 1996 birthday.

SIGNING AGE

The CBA has many competing age definitions, which are usually dependent on what section of the document you’re looking at. The definition used in regards to how old a player is when they sign a contract is a bit wacky:

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Parsons turned 19 on Sept. 18. But since he was 18 on Sept. 15, he’s considered to be 18 years old in the context of signing entry level contracts until the end of 2016. If he signs by the end of 2016, the first year of his contract will be considered his 18 year old season… despite him turning 19 three days into the league calendar.

So why is that important?

THE DOUBLE SLIDE

Here’s why:

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This is a bit dense, so let me explain in less CBA-y terms:

  • If a player signs when they’re 18, their first (18-year-old) season slides if they don’t play 10 NHL games. If they don’t play 10 NHL games in their second (19-year-old) season, the deal slides again.
  • If a player signs when they’re 19, their deal slides… unless they turn 20 between Sept. 16 and Dec. 31.

HERE’S THE RUB

Parsons is 18 (under the CBA) until the end of 2016. If he signs before the end of the year, his deal can slide twice (through 2016-17 and 2017-18) unless he plays 10 NHL games in either season. The Flames have, for lack of a better term, a zillion goalies to juggle over the next few seasons. Because he’s a 1997 birthday, he’s eligible to play in the AHL (or ECHL) next season. But with the Flames having oodles of goalies, he might get tucked back into the OHL as an overage player.

If the Flames sign him by Dec. 31, 2016, Parsons can play pro hockey or play in the OHL next season and his contract won’t start running either way, effectively becoming a four-year entry level deal. The Flames have taken advantage of this CBA quirk twice in recent years:

  • They signed Emile Poirier before the end of 2013. As a December birthday, he wouldn’t have been eligible for a slide year if he signed in 2014 (his 19-year-old season). But as a result, his first pro season (2014-15) was a slide year and the Flames basically got a free year of development. (Hunter Shinkaruk’s situation was exactly the same as Poirier’s.)
  • They signed Rasmus Andersson before the end of 2015. As an October birthday, he also wouldn’t have been eligible for a slide year if he signed in 2016 (his 19-year-old season). But as a result, his first pro season (2016-17) will slide unless he plays 10 NHL games, and the Flames will likely get a free year of development.

In short? Signing Parsons before the year is out will fundamentally make his first contract a year longer and give the Flames a ton of flexibility in terms of managing his development. Given the team’s moves in similar situations in the recent past, they’re likely aware of the advantages of getting a deal done soon.