Times They Are A-Changin’

On a day when the Hobey Baker Hat Trick was announced by the Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation, we are no doubt reminded that sans the Frozen Four, the 2011-2012 college hockey campaign is in the rear view. Of the three finalists, Spencer Abbott and Austin Smith have already signed entry level pro contracts, Abbott returns to his native Ontario to play for the Leafs organization and Smith joins former BU star Alex Chiasson as a member of the Dallas AHL affiliate, Texas Stars. The swift ending to the season of all but four fortunate teams serves as a frank reminder that, as fans of college hockey, we truly must appreciate the sport on a game by game or perhaps season by season basis because, as the iconic Bob Dylan proclaims – “Times They Are A Changin.”

Whether it is the whimsical, transient nature of the professional ranks – where free agency and an unfettered infatuation with the all mighty dollar have seemingly ruined any sense of allegiance or the “one and done” NCAA sports mentality, it is no longer conceivable for an athlete to stay in one particular place for more than a few seasons. Gone are the days of 5th year seniors and heroic figures like Cal Ripken who stayed in one address long enough for fervent fans to endear themselves to them.

I mean, you can’t even buy a jersey anymore with someone’s name on it because they will

Paps is now a Philly

Paps is now a Philly

be whisked away to another team before you know it – ie.- trade deadline move, free agency exodus, or in the college hockey realm terms – early departure to the CHL or NHL. As an owner of an Adam Vinatieri Patriots jersey and a Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox shirt, I am fully aware of the tenuous nature of sports these days.

Now, I will admit, college hockey is certainly more stable in terms of tenure than some of its brethren – namely, college basketball. College hoops powers like Kentucky and Carolina have become virtual “one and done” breeding grounds for the NBA. I would compare these programs to the CHL as far as player development is concerned because, let’s face it, if a blue chipper signs an NLI to play for Coach Cal in Lexington, we all know it will be a one year stint, two tops, before that athlete departs for the NBA. Young star athletes who decide to play in the Canadian major junior leagues or at top notch hoops schools like Kentucky are clearly deciding to play there strictly for the player development aspect and not the academic or even fraternal side of the ledger.

Speaking of transient athletes…man ‘o man has it been a wild and crazy week on the HEA transaction wire – some players departing to the pro ranks while others are gone before we even knew them – ala Former NU recruit John Gillies. Two thirds of the famed 1st line at the University of Maine now have new homes in the AHL thanks to some maximum, 2 way entry level deals this week for Spencer Abbott and Brian Flynn. Sebastian Stalberg of the last place Vermont Catamounts was one of the first chips to fall so to speak, as the BF reported several weeks ago – and the frenzy of moving parts has not stopped ever since.

I entered the blogosphere as a green horned, newbie just a few months back so this is admittedly the first time that I have explicitly followed every tidbit of information as it pertains to the NHL Free Agent signings this time of year. So as many of us amateurs do, I turned my attention to Cap Geek and Google to decipher, exactly what all of these entry level deals and contractual, legal speak, all truly entail. Sometimes, it helps the average citizen, much like myself, to keep things in simple terms when it comes to arcane, superfluous dealings like our much maligned Healthcare Bill that even top tiered medical folks don’t fully understand.

So, what can we make of all of these entry level deals? I have pasted a simple breakdown from Cap Geek below that breaks down the main principles behind each and every entry level deal. The terms basically come down to just a few factors, mainly, a players age and the year he has signed the deal.

From CAP GEEK:

How do entry-level contracts work?Players younger than 25 as of Sept. 15 in the calendar year their first NHL contract is signed are subject to the terms of Article 9 of the CBA and must sign an entry-level contract (ELC). This means the amount of salary and team-paid performance bonuses is capped, depending on his draft year or the year he signs. The length of the ELC is also specified based on the player’s age.

AGE     LENGTH

18-21   3 years

22-23   2 years

24      1 year

25+     No Restriction *

* A one-year entry-level restriction applies to drafted players from Europe aged 25 to 27.

All ELCs are two-way contracts and can be extended by as many as two seasons (see “How does a contract slide?” in this FAQ). The maximum allowable salaries for players selected in each entry draft are as follows:

2001:  $858,800

2002:  $900,600

2003:  $942,400

2004:  $984,200

2005:  $850,000

2006:  $850,000

2007:  $875,000

2008:  $875,000

2009:  $900,000

2010:  $900,000

2011 and beyond: $925,000

ELCs can contain two types of bonuses: signing bonuses and performance bonuses.

Signing bonuses cannot exceed 10 percent of the contract’s total compensation. They are typically paid out annually.

Performance bonuses, or Exhibit 5 bonuses, cannot exceed $2,850,000. These bonuses are divided into two categories: Schedule A and Schedule B.

Schedule A bonuses cannot exceed $212,500 per individual bonus and $850,000 in aggregate

The majority of NCAA players who are left undrafted, and I must admit I was stunned at the level of talent left in the free agent pool this year, move from the college ranks to either the AHL or a step down to the ECHL. There are rare exceptions of the free agent variety, including Reilly Smith of the Miami Redhawks, who signed on with the Dallas Stars this week and made was set to make his pro debut last night…but for the most part, the free agents signed this time of the year are typically minor league bound – for cap and skill reasons of course.

Chris Peters of the United States of Hockey makes some very interesting observations about the advantages of being a 2nd year NCAA eligible free agent (ala – Brian Flynn)

Chris Kreider could help the Rangers down the stretch

Chris Kreider could help the Rangers down the stretch

versus a high round draftee (ala- Chris Kreider)…it’s a must read piece as usual by Peters. If you wondered why the 24 year old Flynn signed only a one year deal with the Buffalo Sabres, please refer to the entry level cheat sheet pasted above (from CAP GEEK) and take notice of the contract length associated with 24 year olds (1 year) and you will see how this starts to make some sense.

The Bruins were in the mix during this free agent spree as well as they signed the slick, puck moving defenseman (this term invokes negative connotations in my mind because of the Kaberle signing last year) Torey Krug, a junior from Michigan State. Now, because of the competitive market for Krug, The Bruins- although they signed him to a two way deal – guaranteed Krug the full $925K normally only awarded to players who join the NHL team and suit up for 10 games. According to the esteemed Bruins beat reporters, it is doubtful that the 5ft9” Krug (Livonia, MI) will actually see any ice time for the big club this year.

It’s always refreshing to see a senior player, like Merrimack G Joe Cannata, earn his degree and then be rewarded for it with a nice pro contract. Cannata signed last week with the Vancouver Canucks and will report to the AHL Chicago Wolves. Given the shaky nature of Roberto Luongo, we can only hope that Cannata will join fellow HEA tender, Cory Schneider of BC fame in the Vancouver mix.

Now for the rumblings that have emanated from Huntington Ave…pooooor Northeastern. Not only did junior G- Chris Rawlings struggle down the stretch for NU and fail to earn an NHL contract, but his incumbency (returning for his senior year) resulted in the rescinding of blue chip goalie and Maine native, John Gillies’ NLI. OUCH!!!! To add insult to injury, the Huskies are also losing F- Rob Dongara (transferring) as well as D- Anthony Bitetto (signed with the Nashville Predators). Junior Hockey reporter extraordinaire, Nate Founier has the take on the Gillies situation in the Maine Hockey Journal.

I haven’t even mentioned the fact that they lost a very popular figure last year in coach Greg Cronin (coach in the Maple Leafs organization) and lost out on arguably the best freshman HEA has witnessed in several years, Johnny Gaudreau, who defected to BC after Cronin left for the NHL.

The Husky Hockey Blog offered out a very informative and resourceful list of all the comings and goings in HEA as they stand today:

Northeastern HuskiesLeaving (4 F, 1 D): Rob Dongara (F, JR, Transferring),  Mike McLaughlin (F, Graduated), Steve Quailer (F, SR), Alex Tuckerman (F, SR), Anthony Bitetto (D, JR, signed with Nashville)

Incoming (3 F, 4 D) : Cam Darcy (F, USNDPT), Ryan Belonger (F, USHL), Mike McMurtry (F, CCHL), Dustin Darou (D, CCHL), Mike Gunn (D, USHL), Colton Saucerman (D, USHL), Jarrett Fennell (D, OJHL)

Notes: Ludwig Karlsson is definitely staying.  Drew Daniels and Justin Daniels are rumored to be exploring their options.  They can either turn pro with the Sharks or transfer.

Boston College Eagles

Leaving (3 F, 2 D, 1 G):  Paul Carey (F, Graduated), Barry Almeida (F, Graduated), Tommy Atkinson (F, Graduated), Tommy Cross (D, Graduated), Edwin Shea (D, Graduated) Chris Venti (G, Graduated)

Incoming (3 F, 5 D): Frank Vatrano (F, USNDPT), Brendan Silk (F, USNDPT), Peter McMullen (F, USHL), Travis Jeke (D, Prep),  Mike Matheson (D, USHL), Ted Doherty (D, USHL), Sam Piazza (D, USHL), Colin Sullivan (D, Prep)

Notes: Still playing, but early departure candidates include Chris Kreider, Brian Dumoulin, Patrick Wey

Boston University Terriers

Leaving (4 F, 1 D, 2 G): Alex Chiasson (F, SR, signed with Dallas), Chris Connolly (F, Graduated), Kevin Gilroy (F, Graduated), Ross Gaudet (F, Graduated), Ryan Ruikka (D, Graduated), Kieran Millan (G, Graduated), Grant Rollheiser (G, Graduated)

Incoming (5 F, 1 D, 2 G): Matt Lane (F, USNDPT), Wesley Myron (F, BCHL), Mike Moran (F, BCHL), Jarrid Privitera (F, Prep),  Robert Polesello (F, USHL), Marc Hetnik (D, BCHL), Matthew O’Connor (G, USHL), Sean Maguire (G, BCHL)

Notes: early departure candidates include Garrett Noonan, Adam Clendening, Matt Nieto

Maine Black Bears

Leaving (3 F, 2 D, 1 G): Spencer Abbott (F, Graduated),  Theo Andersson (F, Graduated), Brian Flynn (F, Graduated), Will O’Neil (D, Graduated), Ryan Hegarty (D, Graduated), Josh Seeley (G, Graduated)

Incoming (4 F, 3 D): Will Merchant (F, MN HS), Steven Swavely (F, EJHL), Devin Shore (F, OJHL), Ryan Lomberg (F, USHL),  Conor Riley (D, EJHL), Kyle Williams (D, EJHL),  Ben Hutton (D, CCHL)

Notes: early departure candidates include Joey Diamond, Matt Mangene.  Several recruits listed as 2012/2013 were left off incoming list as of now.

Massachusetts Minuteman

Leaving (2 F, 1 D, 1 G):  TJ Syner (F, Graduating), Danny Hobbs (F, Graduating), Michael Marcou (D, Graduating), Kevin Moore (G, Graduating)

Incoming (3 F): KJ Tiefenwerth (F, USHL), Shane Walsh (F, EJHL), Kenny Gillespie (F, USHL)

Notes: none

UMass Lowell RiverHawks

Leaving (3 F, 1 D): Michael Budd (F, Graduating), David Vallorani (F, Graduating), Matt Ferriera (F, Graduating), Tim Corcoran (D, Graduating)

Incoming (6 F, 2 D, 1 G): Ryan McGrath (F, USHL), Adam Chapie (F, NAHL), Logan Johnston (F, BCHL), Dylan Shapiro (F, EJHL), Michael Fallon (F, USHL), Mike Colantone (F, BCHL), Greg Amlong (D, USHL), Christian Folin (D, NAHL), Connor Hellenbuyck (G, NAHL)

Notes: none

Merrimack Warriors

Leaving (5 F, 2 D, 1 G): Elliot Sheen (F, Graduating), Jeff Velleca (F, Graduating), Carter Madsen (F, Graduating), Jesse Todd (F, Graduating), Ryan Flanigan (F, Graduating), Simon Demers (D, Graduating), Karl Stollery (D, Graduating), Joe Cannata (G, Graduating)

Incoming (4 F, 2 D): Vinny Scotti (F, EJHL), Brian Christie (F, NAHL), John Gustafson (F, NAHL), Justin Hussar (F, USHL), Izaak Berguland  (D, AJHL), Matt Cronin (D, BCHL)

Notes: early departure candidates include Kyle Bigos

New Hampshire Wildcats

Leaving (3 F, 1 D, 2 G): Stevie Moses (F, Graduating), Mike Borisenok (F, Graduating), Kevin McCarey (F, Graduating), Damon Kipp (D, Graduating), Matt DiGirolamo (G, Graduating), Tyler Scott (G, Graduating)

Incoming (5 F, 2 D, 1 G): Kyle Smith (F, EJHL), Jamie Hill (F, USHL), Maxim Gaudreault (F, USHL), Dan Correale (F, USHL), Collin MacDonald (F, EJHL), Brett Pesce (D, EJHL), Harry Quast (D, EJHL), Jamie Regan (G, EJHL)

Notes: none

Providence Friars

Leaving (3 F, 2 D, 2 G): Matt Bergland (F, Graduating), Robert Maloney (F, Graduating), Andy Balysky (F, Graduating), Daniel New (D, Graduating), David Brown (D, Graduating), Alex Beaudry (G, Graduating), Justin Gates (G, Graduating)

Incoming (5 F, 3 D, 1 G): Brooks Behling (F, NAHL), Nick Saracino (F, USHL), Paul DeJersey (F, BCHL), Brandon Tenev (F, BCHL), Brent Norris (F, CJHL), Tom Parisi (D, EJHL),  Ori Abramson (D, EJHL), Will Goss (D, Prep), Dylan Wells (G, AJHL)

Notes: early departure candidates include Tim Schaller.  Several recruits are listed as 2012/2013 were left off the incoming list as of now.

Vermont Catamounts

Leaving (3 F, 2 D, 2 G): Sebastian Stalberg (F, SR, signed with San Jose), Matt Marshall (F, Graduating), Brett Leonard (F, Graduating), Drew MacKenzie (D, Graduating),  Lance Herrington (D, Graduating), Rob Madore (G, Graduating), John Vazzano (G, Graduating)

Incoming (6 F, 1 D, 2 G): Zegmus Girgensons (F, USHL), Conor Anthione (F, EJHL), Thomas Forgione (F, USHL), Jacon Fallon (F, USHL), Ryan Rosenthal (F, Prep), Jonathan Turk (F, NAHL), Ian Spencer (D, USHL), Billy Faust (G, BCHL), Body Hoffman (G, AJHL)

Notes: early departure candidates include Connor Brickley

As the transaction wire heats up again, the Beanpot Forum will disseminate all pertinent information. We certainly look forward to an exciting end of the year as the NHL transitions to the playoffs and the Frozen Four heads to Tampa, FL. Going to be a great couple of weeks ahead, no doubt!!

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