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CBA Loophole Makes Alexander Romanov Ineligible For Offer Sheets

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Montreal Canadiens

A loophole in the NHL’s CBA makes Montreal Canadiens restricted free agent (RFA) Alexander Romanov ineligible to receive Offer Sheets this summer from other clubs.

The Montreal Canadiens have a big summer ahead of them, especially when it comes to re-signing key RFA Alexander Romanov, but they can take their time knowing that Romanov cannot be poached like Jesperi Kotkaniemi was last season. Unlike Kotkaniemi in the summer of 2021, Romanov is not your regular RFA because of the way he began his NHL career. That’s because Romanov has not accrued three “professional seasons” of hockey under his belt, according to the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. According to section 10.2(a) of the CBA, a year of professional experience is defined as follows:

“A Player aged 18 or 19 earns a year of professional experience by playing ten (10) or more NHL games in a given NHL Season, and a Player aged 20 or older (or who turns 20 between September 16 and December 31 of the year in which he signs his first SPC) earns a year of professional experience by playing ten (10) or more Professional Games in a given League Year.”

The ten-game threshold is critical in Romanov’s case. When Alexander Romanov signed his entry-level contract in the summer of 2020, he immediately burned the first year of his contract because he was 20 years old at the time. Coming over from the KHL, Romanov, Kirill Kaprizov and Ilya Sorokin were allowed to sign their entry-level contracts exceptionally for the end of the 2019-2020 season, but weren’t allowed to play in the 2020 playoffs. Because the NHL Playoffs were taking place in August instead of June, the NHL made a compromise with various NHL clubs to allow them to sign their Russian prospects without having them affect the NHL Playoffs outcome.

 

A Hidden Advantage For The Montreal Canadiens

The fact that Romanov didn’t play a game during the 2020 NHL Playoffs meant that he could burn the first year of his contract without accruing a year of professional experience. A traditional RFA coming out of their entry-level contract usually has three years of professional experience, as they would likely have three consecutive years of professional game experience in the NHL or AHL by that time, like Kotkaniemi last summer. Because Romanov only has two seasons with ten or more games played, he falls under the status of a 10.2(c) RFA, which is defined as such:

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“Any Player with fewer than the required years of professional experience set forth in Section 10.2 shall have no right to Free Agency except as provided in this section. Upon expiration of such a Player’s SPC, the Club to whom the Player was last under SPC shall be entitled to make that Player a Qualifying Offer under the terms and conditions set forth in Section 10.2(a)(ii) above. A Club which makes this Qualifying Offer will have the exclusive right to negotiate with any such Player.”

In layman’s terms, this means that, because Romanov did not accrue a minimum of three years of professional experience, he falls under another type of RFA status, which makes him ineligible to receive offer sheets. The Montreal Canadiens can thus take their time in negotiating a new contract with Romanov without fear of a rival team attempting to poach him in the process.

With Kent Hughes looking to focus on developing his young defence, expect Alexander Romanov to be near the top of his priorities this summer, as the young defenceman looks to take the next step in his NHL career.

NB: SPC stands for Standard Player Contract

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