Thursday, 17 January 2008

New Restrictions on European Juniors

by Jes

Per, the IIHF, its member countries, and the NHL have come to a new agreement about junior European hockey players.

Following the five hour meeting with representatives of the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia and Sweden, both sides agreed that a player who is still under contract with an IIHF team and has not reached his 20th birthday must be first offered back to his team in Europe. The new proposal sees the age limit increased by two years.

This provision does not affect players who where selected in the first round of the NHL draft.

Out of the 59 European players who were signed by NHL clubs prior to the 2007-2008 season, six are on NHL rosters, 46 were assigned to the minor leagues and seven returned to their European clubs.

So, it sounds like the IIHF clubs will have the first right of refusal is a player is demoted from the NHL to the AHL or ECHL, until they are 20.

I don't mind this at all, given how a European team should have the rights to their players if they are under a valid contract. It's not as if there are that many 20-and-under Europeans in the AHL or ECHL, so I don't think the impact of this decision is going to be dramatic, since it doesn't appear to affect the Canadian Hockey League.

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