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06-01-2008, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Chimaera View Post
the difference is, there used to be a lot more flexibility with contracts and offers. The original team can offer more money, but the difference is not monumental when you consider that both players will stand to make about the same in the AHL, and potentially a player could pick a team he feels he will get the most chance to make NHL money in the shortest time.

With the Cap and the lesser control over the player (knocking two years of rights ownership) and reduction for the time someone owned a players rights could lead to an increase in this type of action.

Look, I understand it realistically could have happened more in the past. But right now the setting is right to allow players to make this conclusion. The ball game also changes significantly when it is a high draft choice making the decision. Thelen's not even in the same category. For the team at that time, the compensatory pick was worth significantly more to them for a prospect that had his stock drop a lot since his draft day. Umberger's closer to the issue at hand here, but I wonder what the salary figures that were involved were. Wheeler was a reach, but a player of his ilk still has significant value to an organization. He isn't a throw in or a mid round pick, this is a top end prospect who commanded the max deal. I could see if a team offered him less cash, but to get offered the max and turn it down is what is frightening. I almost hope he doesn't to well so it doesn't turn into something others try. If top picks say forget it, I will make all the money I want wherever I want to play, that is the fear. If a mid rounder or a low pick doesn't want to play in one organization because of money or opportunity, that is NO issue but when its a top pick, teams need some certainty.

It might be hard for a Canadian team's fan to understand or comprehend the fear this could place in fans of expansion and other "less desirable" teams (though that might be right up the alley of many extremist anti-American NHL fans). You have teams that many of the players and prospects have grown up rooting for or have desirable markets for young players to play in. Some might want to be closer to home, some might have played in a certain region. But the fear that you could take a top 5 pick and then have him basically say in 4 years time that he has no desire to play for your franchise is scary for fans of most teams.
what exactly is the difference now with the CBA in this regard to what it has always been like?

There is no reduction in time a team holds a player's right, for players like Wheeler... that rule only applied to Euros - who a team held rights for, for 7 yrs after being drafted... for all NA players, like Wheeler, the same rule was in place - you had 3 yrs to sign them, or 4 in the case of college players, who you could sign after their college eligibility, after which point they either went back into draft or became UFAs, depending on their age. The same is in place now.

what other flexibility was there in the past in contract offers that made such a huge difference?

In situations like this, I always put the blame on the team for not locking up the player here... yes there was a risk that he could hit UFA status when they drafted him... maybe that's a reason why more and more teams are signing their prospects within a year or two of being drafted, rather than waiting till the last month to get a deal done before the player hits UFA status (or goes back into the draft). There has also always been problems with NCAA players in the past as well... such as the loophole which Comrie threatened to use to get a better deal in Edmonton - a NCCA player could play in the CHL for a year, and become UFAs... I believe this loophole has been addressed in the new CBA.

And in the end, there is compensation for teams losing such players... any 1st round pick that isn't signed, the team is given a compensatory pick in the 2nd round... sure it's not the same as signing your 1st round guy, but here's the balance overall - at least you get some decent asset back for losing a 1st that is progressing well, and you have the option of walking away from a 1st not progressing and getting a decent asset back in return.

basically though, if a drafted player is a valuable asset for a team, they need to sign him sooner rather than later... if they're going to wait till the last minute to see if the player is worth signing, then you risk losing the player altogether.... we've seen this situation many times in the past... drafted players are much more likely to sign with a team the sooner they get the offer - getting guaranteed $$ as 18 or 19 YOs... if you wait till they're 21-22, and they know they've been progressing well in their development, while seeing a much shorter window to getting that guaranteed contract from any other team, chances are you'll lose the prospect.

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