Montreal Canadiens prospect Martin Reway is expected to move to the KHL next season instead of returning to the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for his final season of Junior hockey.
The native of Prague, Czech Republic has played two seasons in Gatineau, and after scoring 62 points in 43 games this season, has little left to prove at the Junior level. Reway was drafted by the Canadiens in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Draft, but is now stuck between the NHL and QMJHL. He is not yet ready to make the jump to the big league club, but returning to the Olympiques is a waste of his time.
You would think Reway is a great candidate to play for the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League next season, but he is ineligible.
Due to a quirky rule between the Canadian Hockey League, of which the QMJHL is a member, and the NHL, any player drafted from the CHL can not play in the AHL until he is 20 years old. The rule is designed to keep those near NHL ready players in Junior for an extra season. Reway will be entering his 19 year old Junior season.
Call it the Mikhail Grigorenko rule, but I think European players should be exempt from this rule, or it should be wiped out altogether. Over the past two seasons, Grigorenko was not quite good enough for a full time NHL role, but dominated the QMJHL before he was even drafted. It left the Buffalo Sabres in an awkward position and they ended up burning two years off their first round picks entry level contract, even though he finished both seasons in Quebec with the Remparts of the QMJHL.
Reway will make the decision easy on the Canadiens, as he will move to the other side of the world to play next season.
Perhaps I am worrying a little too much about this, but I would rather see the Canadiens young prospects stay in North America after they arrive. Reway is a small, skilled forward who needs to learn the rigors of a North American style of game before he can make the Habs roster. His development would be much more beneficial playing with the Bulldogs next season, on a young AHL team where Canadiens management is very involved, rather than moving all the way to Russia to play on the bigger ice surface.
The thing I really don’t like about this non-AHL rule for CHL players, is that if Reway played his 2012-13 draft year at home in the Czech Republic, or in Russia, he would be eligible to play for the Bulldogs next season, even if he had played in the CHL this past season.
So, a player like Jacob de la Rose, who was born the same year (1995) as Reway, can move from Sweden and play for the Bulldogs this season, but Reway can’t because he moved to North America as a 16 year old.
You would think that North American hockey teams would try to find ways to keep players from around the world here once they decide to move. However, this rule is going to drive Reway back to Europe, which in my opinion, will stunt his development compared to playing for the Hamilton Bulldogs.