Monday, June 16, 2008

When Grown Ups Don't Get Along

You know the more things change in the world of the NHL then it seems the more they revert to the bad old days. Remember that lockout that was supposed to save hockey from the evils of free flowing salaries because they had to have a salary cap?

Yep the same nonsense that if you happened to miss was that now NHL salaries on the average are now more than they were in the pre-lockout days. Well it seems that once again the NHL is back on the path towards the past only this time when it comes to European prospects.

If you read us yesterday then you know that the current Player Transfer Agreement between the NHL and IIHF member nations expired. Here is the cut to the chase who it hurts the most: of course it is the prospects themselves.

A bunch of adults can not get along and work out an fair agreement for all so it is the kids who are going to be the ones who pay the price not the adults here. There are by our count 5 European prospects who by their talent and potential are worthy of being NHL first round picks.

In a fair world Nikita Filatov actually deserves (in our eyes) to be the first pick of the NHL draft. Now the question is will he even be a top 10 pick because of hockey politics. The others we have to wonder if they are going even being taken in the first round and the guaranteed contract that goes with it.

Really why is it that the kids are going to have to pay for the disagreements that adults are having? Without a new PTA then it is a gamble as if NHL teams will even take a European since nobody really knows how this affair will shake out.

We have to agree with Bob McKenzie of TSN when he wrote that "The ground rules for drafting Europeans this year will be determined this week in negotiations between the NHL and NHL Players' Association. What precisely they agree to, or not (if they don't it's likely to go to independent arbitration although not in time for the draft), is anyone's guess, but a lot of player agents and NHL team executives are banking on it going back to the old pre-lockout rules on drafting Europeans."

It seems that one group of adults has to make a deal with one different group of adults in order to strike yet another deal with a third group of adults. Once the NHL and NHLPA work out their agreement to change the CBA then the NHL can try to talk to the IIHF about a new transfer agreement.

Notice nobody mentions the rights of the prospects here? When you boil things down then when all this shakes out we expect a return to the pre-lockout days when an NHL team once they draft an European prospect then they own the rights forever.

We do know that the European (adults that is) are not happy about 2 areas; how much the NHL pays for the transfer rights of said prospects and that the NHL does not alway send back the prospects when they do not make NHL rosters.

What we wonder about from the European side is why in the world would you walk away from a 200,000 payment to zero? The current NHL CBA is going to prevent NHL teams from even talking to individual European teams and working out individual deals.

Which is why when we kept saying that the Rangers never really trying to get Cherepanov out from Omsk despite the hint dropping that their GM was pulling. As noted the price for breaking NHL rules was greater than the value of the prospect. So what will happen next is the bigger question.

Without a PTA, without any agreement between the NHL and NHLPA then we are going to see 2 divisions now in the NHL. The first will be those who are willing to gamble that the old ways will return where they can draft a European, let him play until they believe he is ready to come over to the NHL and then sign him even if it takes several years instead of the current 2.

The other will be the have-nots who because their own draft system is not all that deep that they can not take the risk that they can use a draft pick on a player they may never be able to bring over to the NHL.

The NHLPA is going to win here because they are not going to just say OK to changing the current CBA without getting something in return. We think that is wrong because we wonder would the NHLPA be willing to change the CBA if it was North American kids who would be paying the price.

We get this feeling that we would be seeing a lot more outrage if it was North American kids instead of European ones. The silence from the North American side is now because those European prospects who really want an NHL career will consider coming over and play either American college or the more desired CHL option.

The Europeans we really have to wonder what they are thinking here because now the NHL can wait until a prospect is a free agent and not pay a dime for their rights. The NHL no longer is required to stick to a deadline, no longer required to limit how many players they took from a specific team or return them to Europe when the prospects do not make NHL rosters.

Let us make one thing very clear which is the IIHF is not the bad guys here as their role is to represent the interests of their member nations. They are not the ones who decided to not work out a new deal if anything they tried so hard to get the European members to realize that 200,000 is better than nothing.

The Europeans were getting that 200, 000 whether a prospect was under contract or a free agent. You really have to wonder what they are thinking here as this is really a bad decision that while it will help the Europeans under contract will actually hurt them in the long run.

The European kids on the other hand have no say in all of this and that to us is the biggest wrong. We wonder who is looking out for their interests because from where we sit we are not seeing anyone doing that.

Come this weekend we will be watching to see if European kids will become the victims of this adult game by seeing their draft status rise or fall. Despite the belief that this is supposed a weak crop of Europeans there are those who deserve to go in the first and second rounds.

Once again it will be up to the adults to decide who gets to play.

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