Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The New CBA

Today's Minnesota Daily has a story about the new NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement, and the impact it has on college underclassmen signing early. Unfortunately, the story is a bit off target, in that while it identifies the correct factors that influence the decision, it incorrectly analyzes their impact.

For example, the article's premise is:

Essentially, the agreement extends the amount of time teams have drafted players’ exclusive rights


While this is technically true in a limited number of cases, the CBA in fact shortens the amount of time for virtually all college players. The change that the article mentions is of small significance: designed to close the "Van Ryn loophole" by which players in college could leave college, play an "overage" season in the CHL, and then become free agents. The article correctly points out that teams drafting college players will keep exclusive rights “until the fourth June 1 following his selection in the Entry Draft,” thus precluding college players leaving early for the major junior route. However, the closing of the loophole is a positive development for the college game, even though it applied in only a handful of cases (Van Ryn, Mike Comrie, Anthony Aquino).

The broader impact of the CBA's language is that it shortens the period of exclusivity for college players. The prior CBA provided for exclusive rights for a year following the "conclusion of his playing of hockey in college." In its place, the new CBA provides exclusivity only "through August 15 following the graduation of his college class." Because the period of exclusivity extends principally during "non-playing" summer months following the senior year, a college senior finishing his college career will not miss any playing time before he becomes a free agent. Without "losing" anything by sitting out a year (as he would have had to under the prior CBA), he can gain unlimited leverage. The shortening of this exclusivity is the dynamic changing the relationship between the college game and the NHL.

All of which suggests that Minnesota Wild Assistant GM Tom Lynn's quote that:

“(The NHL and NHL Players’ Association) took care to make sure (the change to the agreement) didn’t hurt the college game by giving the teams four years after drafting a guy to sign him,” Lynn said. “The teams wouldn’t have to rush a guy out of college just in order to have his rights.

“(Before) they’d only have one year after he left school. So, if a player, after his freshman year, was thinking, ‘Huh, I’ll leave school for a year, then I’ll be free’. Now, the team gets him for four years, so the player will either stay in school or sign with his team.”


is correct for one or two kids who had left school (but not for the NHL) but is utterly incorrect for the vast majority of college players.

Additionally, the article correctly notes the rookie salary cap and signing bonus as an additional factor. However, this too works in favor of encouraging players to leave college before their senior year. If the maximum amount that a player can achieve is the rookie cap, and that amount is offered by an NHL team prior to the senior season, there is no incentive to "increase" leverage by potentially becoming a free agent during the summer after graduating. Again, Lynn's quote that “there’s less incentive to come out of college right now” seems to miss the point.

2 comments:

Donald said...

Unfortunately there are more than a few people that have incorrect interpretations of the new NHL CBA and it's affect on College Hockey. It's a shame when the sports writing "so-called" professionals get it wrong.

joseph burrell said...

that about the new CBA is pretty interesting, I had heard a little bit about this at hostpph website, but this is much more complete