Time To Amend NHL/CHL Agreement

Aaron Vickers2016 Draft Center1 Comment

The Brandon Wheat Kings and subsequently, the Saskatoon Blades were given a gift from the Los Angeles Kings. Brayden Schenn.

The Wheat Kings were able to option Schenn to the Blades before the WHL’s trade deadline, receiving a ransom for arguably the best player in Major Junior this year.

After a stint with the National Hockey League’s Kings, Schenn was sent back to junior. There was no option for Los Angeles to send Schenn to their American Hockey League affiliate, where the Saskatoon, SK. native spent a seven game conditioning stint, recording seven points in the process.

That’s due to the NHL’s agreement with the Canadian Hockey League. A player, Schenn for instance, isn’t eligible to play in the AHL unless he’s 20 years of age by December 31st of the given year or has had four years of CHL service. Schenn doesn’t qualify for either.

But he simply doesn’t fit in the Western Hockey League.

Between his two-game stint with the Wheat Kings and after 14 games with Saskatoon, Schenn has an impressive 14 goals and 37 points. In his last 10 games, Schenn has 11 goals and 27 points, and has been held to less than two points just three times all season.

If it sounds like he’s not being challenged, you’re right. If it sounds like Schenn’s skill level is beyond Major Junior, you’d be right too. If you asked the Los Angeles Kings where they’d like their top prospect playing, chances are general manager Dean Lombardi would say the AHL.

But he can’t. Not according to the current agreement in place.

The deal is in place for good reason.The CHL wants the agreement in place to protect its talent pool. The CHL is the most prominent supplier of NHL talent. 20 first round picks in 2008 came from Canada’s Major Junior leagues. 16 in 2009. 17 in 2010. 15 of the league’s top-30 scorers are CHL alumnus.

The longer they can keep the elite talent in their league, the more money there is to be made off said talent.

Many will point to a Brayden Schenn or Windsor Spitfires defenseman Ryan Ellis and ask what is left for each to accomplish at the junior level, and question if their development wouldn’t be better served playing against men in the minors. It’s a very valid point, but one that comes down to the simple fact that without the current arrangement between the CHL and NHL in place, it would cost Major Junior some major dollars.

Is it time for the NHL to push for an amendment?

Sure, there isn’t a way to quantify how much Schenn or Ellis is worth to the Saskatoon Blades and the WHL or the Windsor Spitfires and the Ontario Hockey League respectively. Certainly both names draw a lot of interest in fans and in turn, generate ticket sales. The two are franchise cornerstones.

While the CHL does receive some compensation from the NHL for its part in the development of the game’s next big stars, what would be the result, or harm, in allowing each NHL club to exercise an option on one CHL player each year to be exempt from the four years/20 years of age rule that keeps talent out of the AHL?

If the NHL club adequately compensates the junior club to terms that both can agree upon, would significant damage be done to the club or any of the three leagues that comprise the CHL? The two entities could go one step further and limit this exemption to 19-year-old players specifically to minimize any perceived losses by the organization.

You can bet Los Angeles would pay a king’s ransom to have Schenn with the Manchester Monarchs.

And now, some notes and quotes from around the prospect world.

Owen Sound Attack standout and Colorado Avalanche prospect Joey Hishon has been suspended six games by David Branch and the Ontario Hockey League for a punch after the whistle that has left Niagara IceDogs star Ryan Strome out indefinitely with a concussion. The kicker? Hishon wasn’t penalized on the play.

Keeping with the Avalanche theme, there’s a report out of Saskatoon that Blades defenseman Stefan Elliott is expected to return to the club for his overage season. Don’t expect this to be the case as Elliott is AHL-eligible and another year in junior would have the former 2nd round pick would have him just spinning his tires. Interesting to note that Saskatoon didn’t even expect the defenseman back for this season. The club voted on their lettered players, which led 2011 NHL Entry Draft prospect Duncan Siemens to give up his ‘A’ to his veteran defense partner.

The Kitchener Rangers have to be happy with the sudden return of Jerry D’Amigo last month. The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, who had just five goals in 31 games with the Toronto Marlies, has six goals and 14 points in eight games.

The Western Hockey League and Calgary Hitmen are expecting to eclipse the world record for largest attendance of a junior hockey game. The current CHL record stands at 20,081 in a match between the Ottawa 67’s and and Kingston Frontenacs on December 20, 2004. Canada gold medal victory over Sweden in 2008 saw 20,380 spectators in attendance.

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!

One Comment on “Time To Amend NHL/CHL Agreement”

  1. Excellent piece, with a salient point.

    I think the NHL should negotiate for each organization to be able to select 1 underage player every 2 years to jump directly to the AHL.

    Many years, most teams might not even have anybody they’d choose; But for special situations with “overripe” players like a Schenn or Ellis, the team would have an AHL option to activate.

    Limit it, but give teams a player every other year–That should cover most exceptional situations.

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