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Prospect placement

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

It's vacation days Proteau for this week (and the next two. Lucky SOB), so the other staffers step up to respond to your off-season queries.

Hey Adam, I am relatively new fan of hockey. I was watching the draft and wondering what goes into a team's decision towards where their prospect will play this season? Some go or stay in the Ontario League, some go to the NCAA, some of the European players stay in Europe and some go to the American League. Was wondering why more teams don't put prospects in the AHL sooner where they can get used to a team’s system earlier and the team can develop them the way they want them to play? Look forward to your answer.

Tremayne Graham, Miami, Fla.


For a prospect already playing major junior hockey, he can’t play in the American League until his junior eligibility runs out, which is why Alex Pietrangelo and Luca Sbisa both made returns to their junior teams once their NHL auditions were finished last season. If the Bruins can’t get their salary cap in order this summer, you’ll see Tyler Seguin back with Plymouth in the Ontario League for that same reason; he’s only 18.

European prospects often return to their homeland after being drafted out of Europe, since they generally wind up playing against men in the top leagues, anyway. Though some come over to the CHL via the import draft. Those players (such as Columbus’ Nikita Filatov) can also play in the AHL, even if they haven’t turned 20 yet.

Finally, a player who leaves college early can go to the AHL. Kyle Okposo of the New York Islanders is a perfect example: The Isles didn’t like how he was developing at the University of Minnesota, so he left the Golden Gophers midway through his sophomore year and joined the Bridgeport Sound Tigers before catching on with New York later in the season.

Thanks for writing! – RK

Hi Adam, I was wondering what the future holds for Patrick O’Sullivan. Is L.A. a possibility or will he be a bargain buy for a team in the east?

Steve Holdam, Edmonton

Hi Steve,

I certainly think some team will take a chance on O’Sullivan, though it won’t likely be his old employer, the Kings. First off, that marriage has already failed once and, secondly, L.A. just signed Alexei Ponikarovsky to help fill out its top two lines.

O’Sullivan has struggled to repeat the 22-goal season he posted in 2007-08 as a sophomore, but at 25 years old, I have to believe there’s a team out there that sees enough offensive potential in a player who also plays with a little jam to give him another crack.

Two other factors in O’Sullivan’s favor are he’s got something to prove and won’t be trying to do it with the Oilers, who were an unmitigated disaster during the season-plus he spent there.

Put it all together and you have a young player worthy of some intrigue – and likely a one-year contract. – RD

Hey Adam, Do you think the NHL should be able to reject contracts? And why would Chicago get some of San Jose's draft picks if they didn't match Niklas Hjalmarsson contract.

Cole Shelton, Keswick, Ont.

Hey Cole,

To answer your fist question, yes, the NHL should be able to reject contracts; in fact it has to. First off, all contracts go through NHL HQ to ensure they conform to the collective bargaining agreement. But also, the madness must stop somewhere before players are signed until they’re 50 just to get their salary cap hits below $4 million. The league is trying to bring some sanity back to contract negotiations.

Hjalmarsson was a restricted free agent as opposed to an unrestricted one, meaning Chicago owned his rights no matter which team hoped to sign him. Under the CBA, when one team signs another team’s RFA, compensation in the form of draft picks is owed. How many picks and which rounds they come in is determined by the dollar value of the contract; the more total money the more picks in higher rounds. – JG

Because of the cap and free agents, will we ever see another dynasty in hockey?

John Sullivan, Grand Rapids, Mich.


The cap and the number of teams in the league combine to make another true dynasty – we’re talking more than just a back-to-back Cup winner – highly unlikely.

Even before the introduction of the cap, there wasn’t a single, dominant franchise in the league since it expanded to 30 clubs. The last team in our minds to qualify as a dynasty was the late 1980s Oilers.

By the ’90s, the talent was already getting spread thinly; the cap has exacerbated that dynamic and it would take a perfect storm of events, including a cadre of core players agreeing to so-called “hometown discount” contracts, for a team to string together three in a row or four in five years. – JK

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Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to His blog appears regularly, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

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