Earlier this month, the NHL and the Swedish Hockey Association reached a new Player Transfer Agreement. SportExpressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom has the details of the agreement, some of the highlights being as follows:
- A more than 45% increase in the money paid to Swedish teams whose player signs an NHL contract;
- The signing deadline for previously-drafted and free agent players is June 15th each year;
- The regular signing deadline for players drafted in the current year is July 15th with a $100K penalty being added if they wait until August 15th;
- It’s an eight-year agreement with both sides having an option to open it up after four years.
However, there is one significant change that warrants a closer look. Under the old agreement, players drafted in the second round or later that are also signed in Sweden had to be at least 21 before they could be sent to the AHL. If they were younger than that, they had to be returned to their Swedish team. In the new agreement, that threshold has been increased to 24. Any player from Sweden who signs an NHL contract will now be subject to the new agreement while anyone that signed before the announcement will be under the old rules.
The intention of this provision is to have players stay and play in Sweden until they’re ready to play in the NHL. It’s one thing for players to make the jump to the NHL and this agreement doesn’t prevent that from happening. But it has now become a bit more difficult to get those players into the minor leagues.
NHL teams understandably want to get their prospects into their farm system and work with their development coaches so this is something that probably isn’t going to sit well with teams as now, they will effectively be limited to development and rookie camps with the latter likely to be frowned upon as Sweden’s season gets underway at the time that NHL rookie camps are held in mid-September.
Also, as there is a signed transfer agreement in place, NHL teams have four years to sign players to an entry-level contract which hasn’t changed from before. If the drafted player is 18, that means he’d be 22 at the end of that stretch and signing a two-year contract. For the duration of that agreement, teams could effectively face an NHL or Sweden situation depending on the players’ contractual situation in Sweden and the deal will count against the 50-contract limit during that time even if they’re returned overseas.
It’s worth noting that there are no changes to the rule for first-round picks. If a Swedish player is picked in the first round, the NHL team can send the player to the minors without requiring the approval of his team in Sweden.
Now, with the extended restriction for those picked after the opening round, it will be interesting to see if that has any effect on the draft. Do teams consider slightly reaching for a player at the end of the first round that might be rated a bit lower on their list to the ability to have full control of their development? And as the draft progresses, might teams be more hesitant to draft players from Sweden knowing it will be more difficult to get them into their farm system? We’ll find out the answer to those questions three months from now.
With the pipeline of Russian born kids likely being drastically slowed down for the foreseeable future, this doesn’t help NHL teams one bit.
24? shocking how the NHL continues to get bent over a table by every other league in the world.
I’m sure the kids playing there don’t like this one bit
Be interesting to see how this is worded to keep it legal.
Employment law doesn’t really allow for special rules for Swedes. I assume it’s based on contractual rights with their existing teams in Sweden.
If some random kid played roller hockey in his driveway in Stockholm only to become a star and comes to the US at 19 and signs with the Bruins, there would be no legal basis to prevent this.
This new regulation will have almost zero effect in real life.
The vast majority of players this could affect already have out-clauses in their contracts that allow them to break the contract in case they should get an offer from the NHL. As this regulation only applies to players under contract it will be totally ineffectual in every such case.
All teams that sign contracts including such clauses do so with the full understanding that they may lose their player.
The only cases where this regulation can have an effect is where a player is under contract without such an out-clause and their team therefore isn’t expecting to lose their player. That regulation protects the team in such cases but these would be a tiny minority.