Generally, the market for free agent junior players isn’t typically strong. Sure, the odd late-bloomer might make it through but more often than not, the more prominent free agents come from the college ranks. However, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports in his latest 32 Thoughts column, one CHL free agent that is generating interest is winger Henry Rybinski.
The 20-year-old was actually drafted by Florida back in the fifth round in 2019 (136th overall) but wasn’t signed by June 1st. Now that he’s too old to be drafted again, he can sign as a free agent.
Rybinski is off to a strong start in his final season with WHL Seattle, notching four goals and 11 assists in 13 games with the Thunderbirds. That’s a similar level of production to last season when he had seven goals and 21 helpers in 23 contests which wasn’t enough to get Florida to sign him.
What works in Rybinski’s favor is that Seattle has several quality draft-eligible players; they had four ranked in NHL Central Scouting’s Players to Watch headlined by defenseman Kevin Korchinski who is viewed as a possible first-round pick. That will keep scouts coming to watch the Thunderbirds play and keep Rybinski on the radar as a result.
While some players that sign contracts now have their deals sign a year, that wouldn’t be the case for Rybinski as he’s too old for that option. Meanwhile, if a team wants to sign him and ensure that they have him for three full years in their system, they’ll have to wait until future contracts (beginning the following season) can be signed on March 1st.