Two weeks ago we ran an article looking at the young players in the NHL who were also eligible to see their contracts slide by one year. Should they be sent back to their junior or European clubs before playing in 10 NHL games, they would avoid burning the first year of their entry-level contracts.
At the time, none of the players eligible had surpassed that threshold. Today is a different story. Three players have already played their 10th game in the NHL, changing the goalposts somewhat for their respective teams. Now, those clubs must decide whether or not to keep them past the next threshold of 40 games, when they’ll get a year closer to unrestricted free agency. Below, we’ll take an updated look at the entire group.
10+ Games Played
Each of these three seemed to have a good shot at staying with their respective teams right from the start, but now the most interesting thing to watch will be that 40 game mark. For Sergachev especially it holds quite a bit of value. Due to a condition on the trade that brought him to Tampa Bay, if he fails to play 40 games this season the Montreal Canadiens would have to send a second-round draft pick (Montreal would also receive a sixth-round pick in return). That extra asset could be tantalizing for the Lightning, but with Sergachev’s outstanding start—the young defenseman has 10 points in 11 games—it may not be worth sending him away from the team.
8-9 Games Played
All four of these players seem destined to play past the nine game threshold, with Dubois set to play his tenth game tonight, and Patrick only sitting out due to injury this week. Bratt and Hischier have played in all eight of New Jersey’s games, combining for 13 points. Their strong early play will likely keep them in New Jersey for the year.
Interestingly, Dubois has lasted in the Columbus lineup despite registering just one point all season. He’s not being sent back before tonight’s game, but it will be interesting to see how the season plays out. He’s not struggling with the pace of play, but hasn’t received the opportunity to really show what his offensive ceiling is. Should Columbus face more injuries, Dubois could be thrust into a more important role.
5-7 Games Played
Kailer Yamamoto (EDM)
Yamamoto is one of the most interesting cases, because though he’s played seven games with the club and at times been one of the ice-time leaders beside Connor McDavid, he was scratched last night against the Dallas Stars. As Leon Draisaitl and Drake Caggiula came back, there seemingly wasn’t a spot left for Yamamoto in the top nine.
The diminutive forward has three points through his seven contests, but isn’t a lock to stay past nine games if the Oilers feel he still needs some more development. Though he obviously has the skill to play at this level, if they’re not going to play him every night his path may lie back in the WHL. That would certainly change the fate for the Spokane Chiefs, his junior team, who are currently 8-6-1 on the season.
1-4 Games Played
Tippett finally worked his way into the lineup for Florida, and the early results suggest he could stay there all year. The winger from the Mississauga Steelheads scored his first goal last night, and could find himself getting more ice time as the Panthers try to dig their way out of a rough start. By no means is he guaranteed, but the team has hinted that he would stay in the NHL right away since the start of training camp.
Kuokkanen started off hot for the Hurricanes in limited minutes, but has been relegated to the press box for the team’s last five games. As we wrote in the previous article, the Hurricanes could actually send him to the AHL instead of back to junior, meaning he could bounce up and down this season.
Girard has certainly impressed in the three games he’s played, but none of those have come in the team’s last four. He may be back in the lineup tonight however when the team takes on the Chicago Blackhawks, and if he keeps up his high level of play they may have no choice but to keep him around. Still, it’s always tough for a 19-year old defender to stick in the NHL and especially one that is just 162-lbs. He’ll have to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s ready to be a contributor to this team all season.
No Longer On Roster
All four made their NHL debuts, but were eventually sent back before breaking the first threshold. Only Chytil remains in the North American professional ranks, currently playing for the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL.