Yesterday, the Canucks locked up Adam Gaudette to a three-year entry-level contract and fans rejoiced as they were excited to see what the centre can do.
But anyone who has been following me for a while knows that I chase after the details in everything. Finding out the inner working of contracts and their long-term ramifications of every move is something that motivates me.
In the signing post, I mentioned that Gaudette would require protection in the hypothetical Seattle expansion draft in June 2020. Rightfully; I was then questioned about this statement as I was quite confident in what I was saying and there was opposing information. Those questions also turned to another top prospect, Jonathan Dahlen, and what could happen to him.
Given that level of interested, I thought it worthwhile to explain how I reached these conclusions, with examples, and what the outlook is for Dahlen. Obviously, there could be changes to the rules in the coming years, but Bill Daly has instructed NHL GM’s that the rules would be the same:
NHL GMs have been told Seattle’s potential expansion draft would be conducted under the exact same rules as Vegas was, per Bill Daly.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 21, 2018
Given that information is coming directly from the NHL offices, it’s okay to be confident in the knowledge below, as long as there aren’t any adjustments. The most important rule from the NHL Vegas Expansion rules is below:
It was later confirmed that meant that the players had to have provided service to the club for the clock to tick on those two years. An example of a player accruing professional years before his deal and being exempt is Artemi Panarin. The Russian winger played in the KHL for years, then came over to the NHL and played two seasons with the Blackhawks prior to the expansion draft and thus was exempt from the expansion draft.
In Gaudette’s case, with him burning a year of his entry-level contract this season, I was aware that he would need to be protected but hadn’t quite figured out why. The Article 10.2a within the NHL CBA was cited as him needing to appear ten professional games for him to accrue that first year. That article is below:
For the purposes of this Section 10.2(a), a Player aged 18 or 19 earns a year of professional experience by playing ten (10) or more NHL Games in a given NHL Season, and a Player aged 20 or older (or who turns 20 between September 16 and December 31 of the year in which he signs his first SPC) earns a year of professional experience by playing ten (10) or more Professional Games under an SPC in a given League Year.
Just to ensure that I am doing due diligence, Professional Games is defined in the CBA as follows:
NCAA games do not count towards this total, and with only six games left on the Canucks schedule, that would contradict what I already knew. That means I had to find another source where professional games were used as reference point for a year or playing service accrued. That led me to Article 13.4, which covers waivers, and this language:
Gaudette is already 21-years-old, so that language in the image applies to him. If he appears in one game, then he earns a year played towards his waiver exemption.
Armed with that information, I thought there had to be an example of a player who had a similar path in 2014-15 — appearing in less than ten games but still being required to be protected in the Vegas expansion draft.
Enter Kyle Baun.
Baun was signed as an NCAA free agent by the Blackhawks and appeared in three NHL games to close out the 2014-15 season. The Toronto, ON native, was available to the Golden Knights this past June in the Expansion Draft:
This would lead me to the conclusion that the wording of article 13.4, or something similar to it, and not Article 10.2 was used for the expansion draft. Thus given that the same rules are expected to be used in the hypothetical Seattle expansion draft, then Gaudette will require protection or be available to Seattle.
Another player that Canucks fans have a keen eye on is Swedish forward Jonathan Dahlen. He was brought up as another player that had an unclear picture when it came to the expansion draft. The league deems Dahlen a 20-year-old based on Article 13.4 above, but here is the essential part of that image:
For purposes of this Article, “age 18” means a Player reaching his eighteenth birthday between January 1 next preceding the Entry Draft and September 15 next following the Entry Draft, both dates included; “age 19” means a Player reaching his nineteenth birthday in the calendar year of the Entry Draft; “age 20” means a Player reaching his twentieth birthday in the calendar year of the Entry Draft; and “age 21” means a Player reaching his twenty-first birthday in the calendar year of the Entry Draft.
Dahlen turned 20 on December 20th, 2017, which means that he is deemed ‘age 20’ according to this article within the CBA.
The Canucks loaned Dahlen to the Allsvenskan this season before appearing in any North American professional games, but since he is 20-years-old, the professional games in Europe count:
For Players age 20 or older, Professional Games include NHL Games, all minor league regular season and playoff games and any other professional games, including but not limited to, play in European leagues when Player is on Loan to such club, and while Player is party to an SPC.
Combining all that information – Dahlen’s age, that he is currently in the first year of his entry-level contract, and on loan to Timra – Dahlen is accruing that first year of professional service when using Article 13.4 as the basis. This means that Dahlen would be concluding his third year of professional hockey when the Seattle Expansion Draft occurs in June 2020. To make sure I was on the right path, I wanted to find an example of a player on a similar track as Dahlen. That led me to Anaheim Ducks forward Nick Sorensen.
Sorenson signed his entry-level deal at ‘age 20’ based on Article 13.4, and then was loaned to the SHL for the duration of the 2014-15 season:
Given the understanding of the language that has been set previously in here and the example of Sorensen, we can conclude that Dahlen will require protection in the hypothetical 2020 Seattle expansion even if he doesn’t appear in any game in North America this season. Another player that came close, Washington Capitals defenceman Christian Djoos, was also available for selection in the Vegas expansion draft after being loaned to the SHL for the 2014-15 season. Djoos did appear in one game for the Hershey Bears (AHL) to close out that season though.
Obviously, I do not have the exact wording from the 2017 NHL expansion draft as it’s not publicly available information. But I can confidently conclude that based on what I have outlined above, Gaudette and Dahlen will be available for selection (and require protection) for the 2020 Seattle expansion draft.
Another player that had some consideration is defenceman Olli Juolevi (DOB: May 5, 1998), but assuming that the Article 13.4 language was used (or something very close to it), he will be exempt from the expansion draft as there is a different language for 18 and 19-year-olds, which is as follows:
For purposes of Regular Waivers, the five (5) year exemption for an 18 year old skater and the four (4) year exemption for a 19 year old skater shall both be reduced to three (3) years commencing the first season that the 18 or 19 year old skater plays in eleven (11) NHL Games or more. The next two (2) seasons, regardless of whether the skater plays any NHL Games in either season, shall count as the second and third years toward satisfying the exemption.
Since Juolevi is still currently playing in the Liiga playoffs, it’s fair to assume he won’t play those 11 NHL games this year and thus earns his first year of ‘professional hockey’ in the 2018-19 campaign despite playing being on loan and having played professional hockey this year. These little wrinkles in language within the CBA have ramifications on how things play out for years to come. Despite being drafted in the same year and both being loaned to European teams, since Dahlen is six months older and born in 1997 rather than 1998, there is a difference in how the rules can affect Juolevi and Dahlen differently. It’s a prime example of how just a slight age difference can change the path for players.
Having to protect Gaudette and Dahlen in 2020 isn’t a massive problem for the Canucks. They were allowed to protect seven forwards last time and by 2020, Loui Eriksson will only have a no-trade clause and not require protection. Either Gaudette and Dahlen have played well enough and deserve to be protected or can be left exposed with little consequence.
Time will tell on the matter and should not take away from the excitement about the potential of these two players, but it’s still nice to have a clearer picture on what could happen for that expansion draft.