The Chicago Blackhawks intend to put 19-year-old prospect Jeremy Morin with their American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs.
Canadian Hockey League president David Branch intends to keep that from happening.
After seeing London Knights standout blueliner John Carlson leave the OHL for the Hershey Bears of the AHL last season, the Kitchener Rangers face a similar fate with their second-leading scorer in Morin.
That is, unless the the CHL and Branch has its way.
Normally, an 18 or 19-year-old player from the CHL had but two options: play another year of junior or play in the NHL. That wasn’t the case with Carlson, though, who was 19 when he left the Knights to join the Bears. The (non)argument at the time was that since Carlson was actually drafted out of the USHL, the CHL rule didn’t apply to him. Morin, drafted from the US National Under-18 team, is expecting a similar fate.
But not without a fight from Branch. Branch has called for an interpretation to the NHL-CHL agreement on the situation.
His argument may be a valid one too. Morin signed on to play with the Rangers before the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, which saw him go 45th overall to the Atlanta Thrashers. Does this make him drafted from the NAHL, the league the US Under-18 team plays in, or the Rangers? One would be inclined to say the National program.
The flaw to this argument? Carlson too was signed by the Knights before his draft year yet left the league without argument.
Branch may be arguing otherwise. He was a member of Steve Spott’s Rangers at the time of the draft.
Regardless of the Morin outcome, Branch will intend to close the door on any future possibility of a CHL player leaving early to take a shift in the AHL. He’ll have to be careful, though.
Based word for word on the phrasing of the agreement between the NHL and CHL, both Carlson and Morin are free to leave for the AHL at any time. A legal challenge from Branch could backfire. Instead, he’s best to try to get the NHL to amend the phrasing in order to keep CHL players in similar situations on Major Junior ice.
And don’t think there are some interested parties watching how this will shake down. Take Jack Campbell and Jarred Tinordi, for example.
Both Tinordi and Campbell are joining the OHL in a similar manner to that of Morin and Carlson. Both were drafted out of the USHL just months ago. Campbell, originally slated to join Red Berenson’s University of Michigan, announced his intention to play with the Windsor Spitfires at the start of last season.
Tinordi, on the other hand, balked on a commitment to the University of Notre Dame and decided the Knights would be best for his development. The potential hick-up here? Tinordi signed on to join London earlier this month after being drafted in the first round by the Montreal Canadiens. Tinordi could very well be the best defenseman in London since Carlson.
Carlson set the precedent of leaving the CHL early for a minor-pro career. It’ll be Branch’s job to make sure Tinordi isn’t able to mimic Carlson’s move to the AHL.
Aaron Vickers is the managing editor of Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!