The Montreal Canadiens have gathered a good crop of interesting prospects over the last three years, but a decision will need to be made for five of them.
Drafting in any professional sport is a long-term process, one that the Montreal Canadiens finally started to put more effort in a couple of years ago. Scouts are sent around the world over the course of the regular season to find players they feel their organizations can use in the future. Whether it’s the CHL, NCAA, overseas in Europe, or even the big Memorial Cup at the end of the year, scouts are in attendance looking for the next ‘One.’
Nevertheless, drafting isn’t the only part of the job. Picking player A over player B or C is an intense activity that takes place across those two days in June, but once those players are selected, making sure their in the appropriate positions to develop is the biggest hurdle.
Are they good enough to crack an NHL lineup? If they’re old enough, should they be sent to the AHL or go to their respective lower leagues and dominate there? And here’s a big one, are they worth investing in via an entry-level contract (ELC).
The ELC is the next major milestone of a prospective player. Once that happens, that creates a new set of branches of where they can go and whether they reach that dream of playing in the NHL or not. However, there’s a window in which teams have to decide whether they’re going to sign a prospect or not.
This comes via the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Players drafted out of the CHL – which includes the OHL, WHL and QMJHL – have two years for their team to sign them to an ELC before they lose their rights. Players drafted out of college as well as European players have four years to sign while there is no deadline for Russian drafted players.
That’s why if you were to look at the Montreal Canadiens Reserve List, the Habs have the rights to both Alexander Romanov and 2019 seventh-round pick Kieran Ruscheinski indefinitely. It’s not exactly forever though, if either haven’t been signed by their 27th birthday, they become a UFA and can sign wherever they want.
When going through those Reserve Lists, the Montreal Canadiens have five players with upcoming deadlines. If they aren’t given an ELC by June 1, they will be eligible to re-enter the draft.