Europeans no longer have draft bonus
That is, the European hockey player being selected as a late-round gamble in the draft.
In the collective bargaining agreement that ended the NHL lockout in 2005, teams' rights to European-drafted players were severely curtailed. Before the current agreement, NHL teams could draft Europeans and keep their rights on the shelf forever whether or not the player ever signed a contract. Now, Europeans can remain in a system for only two years without a contract.
Non-college North American players were always in that situation and remain so. College or college-bound players may now be claimed by NHL teams for four or five years after being drafted (they may play a year of Tier II junior before entering college) without being signed.
The effect of the rule change could be seen at this year's amateur draft and at the Detroit Red Wings' prospects camp that concluded Tuesday in
In 2007, only 14 of the 60 players drafted in the final two rounds were playing in
"In the old CBA, a North American you had to sign after two years and a European you could hold onto forever," said
When the Red Wings made their fifth and final draft pick this summer, they selected Bryan Rufenach, a defenseman starting his collegiate career at Clarkston this fall. The Red Wings have until 2011 to make a decision on whether or not to financially commit to Rufenach by signing him. By then, Rufenach will be 22 and have four years of high-level college hockey on his resume. The same goes for the Red Wings' first-round selection this year, Brendan Smith, who is attending the
With the Red Wings' other three draft picks -- Swedish forward Joakim Andersson, forward Randy Cameron of the Quebec junior league and forward Zack Torquato of the Ontario Hockey League -- the decision clock will expire in two years.
"The philosophy will never change in the first three rounds," said
Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson of
For the Red Wings, the rule change could steer the organization away from one of its signature traits -- finding gold in
"Everybody develops at a different rate," said Nill. "People forget that Pavel Datsyuk didn't come over here until he was 23. We're in a tough business. We're very short term. There's pressure to win all the time."
And that pressure means that
"The development doesn't know there's a two-year limit," said Hakan Andersson,