The Edmonton Oilers seemingly believed that they found a bit of a hidden gem in Vladimir Tkachev, but that situation might fall through, as the league rejected his entry-level contract on Tuesday. Sources including Sportsnet’s Mark Spector and HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman indicate that he was declared ineligible for such a contract because he’s eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft:
Initial reactions indicated that this might just be a bump in the road to an agreement between the two sides, yet it appears that is not the case because of the draft factor:
This scenario is being compared to the Philadelphia Flyers’ issues with signing Tomas Hyka and the Washington Capitals’ headaches involving Nathan Walker. ESPN’s Corey Pronman notes that the Walker situation cost the Capitals a third-rounder.
In discussing the Walker non-deal, Russian Machine Never Breaks pointed to these excerpts in the CBA:
8.9 Eligibility for Play in the League. No Player shall be eligible for play in the League unless he:
(b) had been eligible for claim in the last Entry Draft, but was unclaimed, and:
(ii) had played hockey in North America the prior season and was under age 20 at the time of the last Entry Draft, and signed an SPC which was signed and registered with the League between the conclusion of the Entry Draft and commencement of the Major Juniors season (except that if such Player had signed an NHL try-out form, which was signed and registered with the League during the aforesaid time period, then the deadline for signing and registering with the League an SPC with such try-out Club shall be the commencement of the NHL Season).
(iv) The words “eligible for claim in the last Entry Draft” in subparagraph (b) above mean “eligible for claim in all rounds of the last Entry Draft.” The words “the prior season” in subparagraph (i), (ii) and (iii) above mean “a full season prior to the last Entry Draft.”
It’s unclear what the Oilers can do now, as they might just lose out on Tkachev (or have to wait to get him back in their system if no one else bites). The Saskatoon Blades’ Dan Tencer notes which front office member might have made an error here:
Update: Oilers GM Craig MacTavish explained the mixup on 630 CHED, which the Oilers website transcribed:
“There’s a subsection in the CBA that defines prior season. When we looked at it, it looked like Vlad fulfilled all the criteria to sign a Standard Player’s Contract,” MacTavish began. “He went through the draft — 30 teams had a chance to draft him — and he played the prior season in North America, which he did in Moncton.
“But when you go down two paragraphs further, in another subsection of article 8, it defines ‘prior season’ as a complete season. Vlad had played some games in the KHL and that went unnoticed.”
(To be fair to the Oilers, Tkachev’s agent admits overlooking loopholes too.)
This is a tough break for the Oilers, but especially Tkachev. The 18-year-old finds himself in this situation on Sept. 30, making his short-term future a little blurry. If nothing else, he impressed the likes of Taylor Hall while making an impression, as the Edmonton Journal noted when a deal seemed to be in the works.
“He doesn’t look like a National Hockey League player, he looked more like a dressing room attendant,” said Hall. “But once he suits up and gets out there he can skate well, he can move the puck well and he thinks the game well.
“No matter how big you are or how small you are, you need those types of things to play in the NHL. Hopefully that happens for him some day.”
At least he’s accustomed to overcoming adversity, then?