Travis Hughes and Jeff Marek batted around an interesting tidbit today: the NHL’s transfer agreement with the CHL reportedly expired.
Theoretically, Hughes explains that 19-year-old junior hockey players could play in the AHL without a CBA in place, as opposed to the current rule that calls for a minimum age of 20.
In that scenario, prospects would get the chance to develop outside of the NHL but at a higher level of competition than in the CHL.
That potential boon for promising younger players and NHL teams might be for naught, though.
Marek reports that the CHL “expects the AHL to honor” the typical transfer agreement, avoiding a potential “flood of 19-year-olds” into the AHL.
In the grand scheme of things it might seem like a minute issue, but Hughes explains why the usual rule can inhibit certain players’ growth – and how the setup doesn’t always work out as well as it did for Sean Couturier last season.
For most players of his ilk, though, the answer doesn’t lie in the NHL or in juniors. Largely, these players are not yet ready to jump from the junior ranks straight to the NHL, nor are they suited to return to a Major Junior league in which they utterly dominate their competition.
… These types of players really are suited for the AHL. There, they can get used to the rigors of professional hockey against other grown men — not teenagers like they’d otherwise dominate in Major Junior — without the added pressures of NHL competition they are not ready for. But the rules prevent them from doing so, and it either forces NHL clubs to stagnate their growth or rush them along to the NHL too soon.
Marek’s findings indicate that it will remain the status quo, though.