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Thread: Should the NHL/AHL Work Towards A 'Special' Status for 19-Year Old Junior Players?

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    Should the NHL/AHL Work Towards A 'Special' Status for 19-Year Old Junior Players?

    The question is relatively straight forward. Over the past several years, we've seen players arguably ready for the rigors of the pro game get sent back to Juniors at age 19 when they had nothing left to prove yet aren't quite ready for the top league. I understand that this agreement is in place between the CHL and the NHL, this is just a hypothetical discussion.

    In the case of the Rangers, a few recent prospects come to mind where this could have been beneficial. First is Anthony Duclair. Coming off a 50-goal, 99 point campaign, he had little left to prove in the Q. While there were definitely holes in his game such as defensive effort and consistency, I believe that it would've been more beneficial to both Duclair and the organization if he was playing in a top-6 role in Hartford while learning the organization's system and progressing with their guidance. To a lesser extent, this happened to Christian Thomas who scored 54 goals in 66 games, but had to go back and ended up with a disappointing followup campaign of just 34 goals when he could have been playing pro. As we all know or don't, he's essentially a tweener in the Canadiens system now.

    I think this point is more relevant to a few of the most recent draft picks, Dylan Strome and Mitch Marner. Each has much more to learn and more physical maturity to go through, but the two combined for 255 points. But if they don't make their respective NHL teams and there's a decent chance that neither does, each has to go back and play Juniors for another season. They cannot even be called up to fill in for the team if injuries pile up, except in special circumstances (Brayden Schenn and LA).

    Even if every NHL team only gets one per season or a certain number league wide, I believe that this is something that should be amended to the agreement. The CHL is the only league that has such a deal, as any player drafted out of the NCAA, USHL or Europe can turn pro and play in the minor leagues the next season.

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    I'd be a lot more curious to know why it was agreed upon to begin with. Was it the CHL pushing more to keep talents longer, or the AHL potentially not wanting under-developed players in place? If my memory serves, isn't it actually the AHL who have this rule in place, with a minimum age requirement? Or was that only exclusive to whether that player entered the league via the CHL versus NCAA versus overseas?
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    Petty good info here.
    There's a good bit of confusion about the rules surrounding junior players because they're not in the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement, something everyone can access. The rules are in a private agreement between the NHL and CHL (Canadian Hockey League, made up of the QMJHL, OHL and WHL). A lot of people think the AHL has a rule that someone has to be 20 to play there. Common misconception. It's not a rule made by the AHL. If it were up to them, they would take everyone over 18. Officially that's the AHL's policy in fact.

    The NHL/CHL agreement states that a player with junior eligibility signed by an NHL team must be returned to his junior team if he's not playing in the NHL. It's part of a deal that provides CHL money for players produced (sort of like the IIHF agreement between the NHL and European countries). The NHL agrees to send the teenagers back because CHL needs these players - its top players -- to make money. If the CHL didn't make money, they couldn't produce players. You scratch my back, I scratch yours.
    In the long run, it's probably helpful for the prospects' development as people to stay in junior a bit longer. Teenagers are better off living with billet families instead of on their own, far from home. One issue that keeps coming up is that some players are clearly ready to move on from the CHL, but not quite ready for the NHL. They end up playing junior, but it's hard to keep them challenged or motivated in that final year.

    Normally this rule means that players play two more years of junior after being drafted before they turn pro. There are two exceptions - the really talented who make the NHL at 18 or 19, and those lucky enough to be born between Sept. 15 and Dec. 31. Those lucky fall birthday players were the oldest in their draft class (a player must be 18 by the year of their draft to be eligible), and are old enough that they only have to play one more year of junior after their selection, then can move to the minors.

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    Thanks, Pete. Only issue here is this is from 2010, so it's nearly six years old, but that does help to answer my question at the very least. I was one of the people who thought it was their age rule, not the reverse.

    It also makes sense monetarily, which probably means it's not going to change any time soon considering the wealth of talent the NHL gets from the CHL. Doubt they want to burn that bridge just to give the AHL an opportunity to nab a couple of "under-agers".
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    I completely get it from a CHL perspective. But I'm wondering if there's monetary compensation that an NHL club can pay or a limit on the number of underage players an NHL team can bring into the professional fold per year, or both.

    I also understand the difference between losing a youth player from Europe where they are playing for top men's teams versus a league of 16-20 year olds where the top players are in the league two-three years max in an ever-evolving environment. Eight of the forwards drafted in the 1st round of this past draft are AHL eligible to start the year: Jack Eichel, Mikko Rantanen, Denis Gurianov, Kyle Connor, Colin White, Joel Eriksson-Ek, Brock Boeser, and Jack Roslovic. Most of them will go the NCAA route (Eichel will be a pro, while Rantanen, Gurianov and Eriksson-Ek will be in either the NHL, AHL or stay in Europe), but doesn't that give the guys going pro a developmental advantage over the CHL players?

    If Dylan Strome and Mitch Marner don't make the Yotes and Leafs respectively, they'll essentially be the Crosby and Ovechkin of the OHL. But these kids can't learn much from Juniors versus a pro environment, IMO. They've essentially topped out at this competition level and deserve to move up. I read a report on Marner today where coaches and teammates alike said he's dominant, controlling the play in all situations. That sounds like a guy who needs to play pro hockey to me.

    Looking back at last year, there's at least a few players that deserved to be in the AHL. Aside from Duclair, Draisaitl probably would have benefitted from some time in OKC after 37 games in Edmonton. Pastrnak, because he was drafted out of Sweden, was able to spend the first half of the season in the AHL where he learned the pro game and was able to make an impact in Boston as a competent top-6 winger in the second half. Even some 2014 1st rounders still can't play in the AHL this season such as Jared McCann, Robby Fabbri and Brendan Perlini because they are all early 1996s.
    Last edited by Cash or Czech?; 08-05-2015 at 06:14 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rome 2.0 View Post
    Thanks, Pete. Only issue here is this is from 2010, so it's nearly six years old, but that does help to answer my question at the very least. I was one of the people who thought it was their age rule, not the reverse.

    It also makes sense monetarily, which probably means it's not going to change any time soon considering the wealth of talent the NHL gets from the CHL. Doubt they want to burn that bridge just to give the AHL an opportunity to nab a couple of "under-agers".
    Article is old, but same rule.

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