So on Thursday the NHL plans on announcing it's intention of locking out the members of the NHLPA when the current collective bargaining agreement expires at midnight on Saturday. OK who here was surprised to hear that news?
Shame on both sides because from where I sit I have not seen any real honest effort to avoid the 4th labor stoppage in the NHL since 1992. Both sides have been playing a game of "chicken" to see which side was going to blink first and the losers are once again the sport itself.
The losers are the arena workers who neither side cares whether or not they lose their paycheck. When you look at the actions from both sides then it is hard to believe either side when they make the claim that they wish this could have been avoided.
That is a lie because a serious effort would require someone to say "lets sit down at the table and nobody leaves until we have a deal." Instead we have been witnessing part-time bargaining. An hour here, a couple of days off then another hour or so where both sides pretend to make an offer aimed at settling things.
It is funny how the NHL and NHLPA was able to work out 2 agreements on Tuesday that affects other leagues more than they do the NHL. The first was an agreement which would allow the NHL to send their top prospects back to their junior teams and then recall them when (IF) a new CBA is reached.
The agreement which was worked out with the CHL which governs the 3 leagues that make up the Canadian juniors. For the New York Rangers, it really directly impacts J.T. Miller as while he was eligible to play in the AHL despite just being 19; the question was do you want to risk burning a year of his Entry Level Contract?
If it was my call then what I would do is bring Miller to camp, see how developed he is and then take advantage of the 10 game rule. Whether it is with the Rangers or the CT Whale, I would keep Miller and see how he does in those 10 games.
If he does well then it is not hard to keep him but if it is borderline then send him back to the OHL until his season with Plymouth ends. I am not 100% sure but I do believe Christian Thomas might still have an overage year left in the OHL to use.
Same use as Miller use the 10 game rule to the Ranger's advantage and see how well Thomas does before making a final decision on what to do. Of the remaining Ranger prospects then I would consider Michael St. Croix but none of the other CHL prospects.
For the New York Islanders this agreement will impact first round picks Griffin Reinhart (2012) and Ryan Strome (2011) but I think Strome has a more realistic chance to earn a spot on the Islander roster. Reinhart is a year away but you still want him to experience an NHL training camp.
But here is a question that really needs to be asked; what impact will the labor issues have on the 2013 World Under-20 Championships? What happens if the NHL/NHLPA find a way to work out a deal in December?
It will impact Hockey Canada more than it will Team USA but will NHL teams try to withhold their prospects from a tournament being held in Russia? As it is the NHL is already risking 1 black eye but keep Team Canada from fielding a strong roster will only further anger Canadian fans.
The other agreement reached between the NHL and NHLPA was to allow teams to assign non-entry level players on 2-way contracts to the AHL without exposing them to waivers.
It is a way to insure that the AHL teams have their share of marginal NHLers who otherwise might take off for Europe during a lockout and not come back. On the Ranger side; it looks like Michael Haley, Logan Pyett, Brandon Segal and Kris Newbury are the players most affected by this.
A related question is do the Rangers send Chris Kreider to the CT Whale when the lockout happens? The Rangers have already burnt one year of Kreider's Entry Level Contract so what happens if he spends an entire year in the AHL?
For the Islanders it looks like only one player is impacted by this agreement and that is defender Ty Wishart. The Islanders though do hold an option to send 4 players to their AHL team in Bridgeport (Nino Niedereiter, Casey Cizikas, Travis Hamonic, and Matt Donovan).
In many ways the Islander's better team might be the one they dress in the AHL as it will have a ton of young talent on that roster. If this roster develops up to their potential then look out.
Neate Sager of Buzzing the Net has previews on teams with Ranger and Islander prospects on them and I will post more as they show up.
Sager also points us in the direction of a story out of Saskatoon where NYR prospect Shane McColgan has a chance to play with his younger brother Luke with the Blades this season. It is a good story about brothers.
While the NHL is now hours from a lockout Prospect Park is beginning the march towards the prospect regular season. Don't let the NHL lockout keep you from enjoying the sport as there are plenty of great teams who will work hard to earn your entertainment dollar.
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