Sunday, June 28, 2009

Yes and no . . .

Yeah, I'm all about Troy Hesketh tonight, and here's yet another Hesketh-related post.

I just stopped by USCHO to see their post-draft coverage, and Hesketh made the top of their Draft Notebook. And part of what they wrote is a bit misleading.
The Edmonton Oilers made one of the most interesting selections on Saturday when, in the third round, they called the name of Troy Hesketh. Hesketh is committed to attend Wisconsin but won’t do so until September of 2011. He is heading next year to play junior hockey in the U.S. Hockey League.

Hesketh was not ranked by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau yet ended up the 71st overall selection. The move to take Hesketh was considered risky as the 18-year-old’s current timeline for junior and college hockey could make it difficult to sign him before he becomes a free agent. Teams have no more than four years to sign a player after he is drafted, so given that Hesketh will play two years in junior then arrive at Wisconsin, that could create problems.

Something similar happened with former Minnesota forward Blake Wheeler. Wayne Gretzky and the Phoenix Coyotes tabbed Wheeler as the fifth overall pick in 2004 but Wheeler then played two years of high school hockey and two years at Minnesota before becoming a free agent. Wheeler signed with the Boston Bruins last summer and played his first season for the Black and Gold this past season.
As long as the player stays in college, teams have until Aug 15 of his 4th year in college (Aug 15 after the graduation of his college class) to sign him. (I'm having trouble cutting and pasting from the CBA, but you can read it yourself if you really want the actual language.)

Blake Wheeler didn't become a free agent simply because the 4-yr window expired since his selection in the draft; he became a free agent because he chose to leave school after the 4-yr window expired. I expect Wheeler's desire to play for Boston rather than Phoenix had more than a little bit to do with his decision to leave school.

So, yes, the 4-yr window could be a problem if Hesketh doesn't want to play for the Oilers and doesn't want to stay in school. But no, unless Hesketh is planning to pull a Wheeler (and from what I can tell, that doesn't seem all that common, although I could be wrong), the Oilers don't need to sign Hesketh within the next 4 years to keep his rights.

Anyway, I just wanted to clear up any possible confusion for those of you who may have seen the uscho article but aren't all that familiar with the CBA. Hope I haven't confused anyone further.