When Scott Perunovich agreed to terms on two different contracts with the St. Louis Blues back in March, it led to plenty of confusion around the league. The plan was to have Perunovich sign a contract for 2019-20 if the season returned, allowing him to step right into a spot on the Blues roster for the playoffs. Several other top college and international players agreed to similar structures, hoping to burn the first year of their entry-level contracts before the 2020-21 season began.
Unfortunately, as Michael Russo of The Athletic (subscription required) reported, that made the league furious given that they had put a hold on any contracts for 2019-20. Teams were still holding out hope that the league would change their minds and allow players to sign, but yesterday Gary Bettman and Bill Daly dealt another blow to those hopes.
Daly explained that the league’s position was still that new players are not allowed to sign a contract for 2019-20, even going so far as to call them “ringers.” That means players like Perunovich won’t be seeing action this summer and will have to file their contracts for the 2020-21 season instead.
CapFriendly has even tentatively added them to their database in those spots. Along with Perunovich, this includes Alexander Romanov (MTL), Ian Mitchell (CHI), Grigori Denisenko (FLA), John Leonard (SJS), and Brinson Pasichnuk (SJS) though there are countless others like New York Islanders prospect Ilya Sorokin that have been waiting on word from the league as well.
The question now is how that affects their decisions moving forward, especially for the Russian players. The 2020-21 season is not expected to start on time, with the commissioner even suggesting yesterday that it could kick off with the Winter Classic in early January 2021. That would mean a very long wait for players ineligible to join the playoff festivities this summer, and could lead to some returning to the KHL should it open sooner.