Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Signing deadlines for prospects

It's fish or cut bait time on players drafted in 2006. I actually really like the June 1 deadline because it tidies things up. We get some closure on guys all across the league and it clears the decks for a new crop at the 2008 draft.

The NHL CBA states that players drafted out of Canadian juniors or Europe are subject to this deadline or they return to the draft. The wrench in the machine is this thing about the IIHF agreement falling apart. I blogged about it a few weeks ago. Previously the Russians had dropped out, causing the signing deadline for Russians to be extended indefinitely. It's unclear if the NHL is going to do the same for all European countries now. Extending it puts the power in the hands of NHL teams and takes leverage away from the players, so one would think so.

Note that it's the league a player is drafted out of that matters for these rules, not your country of nationality or current play. So Arturs Kulda is subject to rules on Russia, not the OHL, because he was drafted coming out of a Russian league.

Here are the Thrashers prospects in play right now. Two CHL guys have already been signed -- Holzapfel and Machacek.

June 1 - CHL and Europe (deadline fuzzy on Europeans)

Jonas Enlund - Finland
Juraj Gracik - Slovak
Arturs Kulda - Russia
Denis Loginov - Russia
Miikka Tuomainen - Finland
Andrei Zubarev - Russia

August 15 - NCAA graduating seniors

Rylan Kaip
Matt Siddall

I've been getting emails asking me who I think will and won't be signed. The only guys I expect to get a press release about in the next week are Kulda and Enlund. Zubarev would be a plus, but don't hold your breath. Gracik, Loginov and Tuomainen are not worthy of contracts.

On the two college graduating seniors, with an Aug. 15 deadline, I don't expect Siddall to be signed. Kaip, I have a feeling he'll end up with an affiliate next year. I think he's a solid, character player you want in the system, but his NHL upside is low. That's exactly the kind of guy you set up with Chicago or Gwinnett. Then if he overachieves, you haven't cut ties.

Sometimes guys who aren't signed by their drafting team within the window are reselected in the draft, but it seems like they rarely pan out. The Thrashers have been on both sides of that equation. Rob Zepp reentered the draft after being taken by the Thrashers in 1999, and Paul Flache was a redraft in 2002. Both of them played in Europe last year.

On a side note, in ECHL news, the Ducks announced an affiliation with the Bakersfield Condors, thus ending their relationship with the Augusta Lynx.

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