March 05 2013 02:22PM
Nicklas Jensen celebrates a goal with AIK in October.
Photo Uncredited Via Expressen.
On Tuesday morning Nicklas Jensen's season with Swedish Elite League team AIK came to an end, and he scored a third period goal to seal the win in his final game. According to Vancouver's Assistant General Manager Lorne Henning, Nicklas Jensen will be assigned to Chicago on Friday.
Canucks now confirm Nicklas Jensen WILL be assigned to the Wolves on Friday. #canucks— Elliott Pap (@ElliottPap) March 5, 2013
That said his eligibility for American Hockey League action isn't quite a slam-dunk yet.
Read on past the jump for more.
We've covered Nicklas Jensen exhaustively over the past couple of seasons. Some of our Swedish hockey journalist pals filed interviews with him during his time with AIK, we tried to put his SEL stats into context, and we focussed in on his two-way progress during his Oshawa Generals days. More recently we pointed out that Nicklas Jensen's decision (which the Canucks supported) to spend his draft plus-two developmental season in the Swedish Elite League was all upside for the Canucks.
The reasoning here is pretty simple: not only did Nicklas Jensen get to spend the season playing against men in the third toughest professional hockey league in the world, but he'll now get an extra month of AHL experience over the balance of this season. At least that's the Canucks' intention, though I'm not precisely sure how the legal mechanics are going to work in this case (full disclosure: my reasoning on precisely this topic a few weeks ago was flawed). Jensen's status appears to be a grey area and this particular maneuver is certainly unprecedented.
Jensen's assignment to Chicago would seem to fly in the face of the private NHL-CHL agreement, the one that expired in mid-August but was extended for one year. That agreement forbids players who are drafted out of the CHL and are under the age of 20 by December 31st of the league season from playing in the AHL, barring some special exception like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins recieved this past fall.
Contract aside, however, Oshawa would still be considered Jensen's "rights-holder" in the normal course of things and in fact the General passed on the 81st pick at the 2012 CHL import Draft because they already owned the rights to three import players (one of whom was Nicklas Jensen). According to Lorne Henning who spoke with Jim Jamieson today, the Generals do indeed still hold Jensen's rights, and that's a snag in Vancouver's plans at the moment.
Update: Or maybe it isn't.
Canuck AGM Gilman on why NicklasJensen can go to AHL Chicago, rather than OHL Oshawa: "His direct assignment to AIK nullified requirement."— Elliott Pap (@ElliottPap) March 5, 2013
Wow. That's pretty amazing (no way we'd have been able to anticipate this, by the way, since the NHL-CHL agreement is private). Anway in Gilman we trust.
If the Canucks can come to an agreement with the Generals and assign Jensen to Chicago without any further issues, then this is one hell of a developmental maneuver that the Canucks will have pulled off. And it's even better news that Nicklas Jensen absolutely crushed it in the Swedish Elite League this season. He led all teenagers in scoring by a wide margin and produced to the tune of 20 NHLE goals. His plus/minus number is a cause for concern (even though plus/minus is a totally bogus stat) but at least in terms of his offensive game: he looks polished enough to contribute offensively at the NHL level right away.
Final legal detail: Jensen won't have to pass through waivers as a result of rule 13.23 were the Canucks to call him up, since he spent the season in a foregin league "on loan" from the Canucks. Here's the relevant language from the now-expired and not quite yet replaced NHL CBA:
In the event a professional or former professional Player plays in a league outside North America after the start of the NHL Regular Season, other than on Loan from his Club, he may thereafter play in the NHL during that Playing Season (including Playoffs) only if he has first either cleared or been obtained via Waivers.
So that settles that, I hope.
Should the Canucks and Generals come to an agreement shortly, then I might be giving my AHL Neulion streaming package a workout this month which would be, you know, totally fucking nails.
Let's finish the post off with an obligatory Nicklas Jensen highlight package. That wrist shot is pretty damn impressive: