Moderator's note: This is a timeless topic in the eternal debate about developing tweener prospects for NHL duty and protecting junior teams who rely on their stars to make a buck.
Currently, the NHL/CHL agreement provides that any CHL player under the age of 20 must play for their CHL or NHL team. This is done to protect the CHL from losing all it's top talent to leagues like the AHL. Players in the NCAA system, or in the USHL or Europe are not restricted by this agreement.
If I was in charge, I would keep the agreement mostly intact, with one change - the exemption system.
Each year, five teams in the NHL could choose one of their prospects to be exempt from this agreement, free to be developed wherever the NHL team saw fit.
- Each year, the right of first refusal would go to the lowest ranked team (follow that year's draft order)
- Proceeding through the list, each team would be given the choice to claim or pass the exemption until 5 teams have chosen to claim it.
- Teams that pass would then be eligible to claim the exemption the next season, but would need to wait for the correct turn that year.
- A team that claims the exemption is not allowed to use it again for 5 full seasons. Claiming it in year 1 would mean you are out in years 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.
- No more than 1 player may be taken from a CHL team in a season.
- Teams would need to declare the exemption prior to the start of the CHL season.
- A player exempted would then burn the first year of their ELC.
This system would allow teams a little more flexibility in developing their 'tweener' prospects, while protecting the CHL the primary development league. The CHL would lose a maximum of 5 players per season. NHL teams would, in theory, want to choose to claim the exemption very sparingly. Do you want to use it this year on a questionable pick when you might be better served taking it 2 or 3 years from now? It needs to be a truly special player.