Jack Eichel may have signed his entry-level contract with Buffalo first, but folks in Edmonton don’t care because Connor McDavid is officially under contract now.
The top pick in the 2015 draft signed his rookie year deal with the Oilers today, getting the maximum amount possible under the collective bargaining agreement: a base salary and signing bonus that added up to $925,000, plus a bunch of bonuses available that could push his total earnings as a rookie into seven figures.
The CHL’s Import Draft was held today, giving every major junior team on the continent a chance to pick up some prime European talent. Franchises are allowed to play two Euros on their roster, but no goaltenders. Teams that have a European player taken in the first round of the NHL can select a third player’s rights as well, in case the first-rounder ends up leaving.
With that out of the way, let’s look at how things went down. Consider this a non-comprehensive list, as I am cobbling together commitments or denials as I receive them from various sources in the industry.
Auston Matthews was close to becoming the first major North American prospect to eschew both major junior and college in favor of playing professional hockey in Switzerland before his draft year, but it appears an issue with his work visa will prevent the Arizona native from playing overseas next season.
According to multiple reports, including Swiss news outlet Limmattaler Zeitung, Matthews has yet to receive a work permit and his participation in the upcoming Swiss NLA campaign.
The 17-year-old Matthews is considered the top prospect heading into the 2016 draft. Read more
FORT LAUDERDALE – All right, let’s see if we have this straight. If the Arizona Coyotes can somehow keep their disputed lease in effect, the good people of Glendale will be giving money to a team that is paying a guy $575,000 to not play for them and another guy making $3 million who will actually play for them. That will cost them $3.6 million total, a little more than the $3.2 million they were paying to the guy they traded away, who will likely get paid by his new team to not play for it. The guy making $575,000, by the way, will likely be elected into the Hall of Fame in a couple of days and he now works for the league, while still being paid by the teams who are paying him to not play for them.
Only in the NHL. Shortly after the draft wrapped up Saturday, the Philadelphia Flyers and Arizona Coyotes consummated a convoluted trade that saw defenseman Nicklas Grossmann head to the desert in exchange for Sam Gagner and the rights to Chris Pronger. The reason for the deal? The Coyotes will gain $1.5 million to help them get up to the salary floor, since Pronger’s deal is for $575,000 each of the next two seasons in real money and $4.94 million against the cap, and the Flyers will get some relief at the upper level. Pronger will also become the first player in history to be taken off the league’s long-term injury list without actually being activated.
Carry on, then.
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SUNRISE – It would have been pretty easy for left winger A.J. Greer to have returned to Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire this season and plunder the prep ranks. Instead, the Quebec-born power forward went to Boston University, where he was a teenaged freshman on a premier team.
Early on, Greer was a fourth-liner at best, sometimes a healthy scratch while teammate Jack Eichel destroyed the college ranks. But Greer persevered and by the time Boston was playing for the national title, he was a scoring winger on the second line. Now, he has been rewarded at the draft, as Colorado took him 39th overall.
SUNRISE – Every NHL draft pick has a support network, but for Andong Song, that group could be one billion strong some day.
The Dallas Stars were thrilled when they drafted Jarome Iginla in 1995 and, yes, they did think he’d be available when they chose 11th.
“I believe Central Scouting had him ranked in the twenties,” recalled former Stars director of player personnel Craig Button.
The Stars envisioned Iginla as a future power forward; a John MacLean-type winger who would one day provide them with 25-to-30 goals a season.
Turns out Iginla was better than even the Stars imagined. It also turned out he’d never play a game for the Stars.