Gather 'Round, Folks. And Let's Talk About College Free Agency In The NHL


In case you missed it, Hobey Baker winner and National Champion Will Butcher signed with the New Jersey Devils last night. Butcher becomes yet another prospect who went to the NCAA, put in his 4 years and then moved on from the team that drafted him once his rights hit the free agency market. This isn’t exactly anything new in the NHL but it seems like over the past few years, there’s been at least one big name that hits the market after graduation and since there’s nothing else going on for hockey fans in August, the entire hockey world becomes focused on HayesWatch or VeseyWatch or ButcherWatch or WhoeverWatch.

In case you don’t understand what’s going on here, let me explain it to you real quick. So let’s say you’re 18 again. You have your metabolism back, you’re not the cynical piece of shit you are today, you have the whole world in front of you. You’re 18-years-old and you get drafted to the Carolina Hurricanes at some point in the 4th or 5th round. You’re excited, sure. But you also know you’re not going to Raleigh right away. So Option A, you go up north and you play major junior in Canada because fuck school. 2 years go by and you still haven’t signed your ELC with the Hurricanes. Because you play major junior, after those 2 years you then have to re-enter into the draft when you’re 20. Chances are nobody is going to pick you up at that point and you’ll just have to get picked up as an undrafted free agent. But you still have to re-enter the draft.

Option B is you decide that college looks fucking sweet so you go to the NCAA. You have a dope time in school and all the puck sluts are enough to keep you at your school for the full 4 years. But after those 4 years, you still haven’t signed with the team that drafted you. Well that means that on the August 15th four years after you were drafted, you then hit the unrestricted free agency market. You don’t have to re-enter the draft. You’re 22/23 years old so you’re NHL ready. And if you just won the Hobey Baker, you probably have a bunch of teams trying to jerk you off to get you to sign with them. Does this all make sense? Major junior you get 2 years, then re-enter draft. NCAA you get 4 years then hit UFA on August 15 in your draft year +4.


(thanks for reading so far, here’s a very good hockey fan for a reward)

Now depending on who you talk to, this is either a good thing or the absolute worst thing ever. If you’re a fan of the Colorado Avalanche, you hate it since this rule just allowed a Hobey Baker winner to walk away from your team for nothing (even though they just signed 2 college free agents so they shouldn’t be butt hurt). If you’re literally anybody else in the world, this should be seen as a great thing. Why? Because fuck the owners, that’s why. Listen. For a lot of guys in the NHL, the moment you sign your ELC, you are fucked. Because you immediately lose all of your rights. And I get it. The kids are 18 or 19 years old. They haven’t really “earned” rights yet. But you sign your entry level contract and your rights are tied to that team for those years and then they are restricted free agents after that. So say Will Butcher had to sign with the Colorado Avalanche because they drafted him. Since he’s 22 years old, he’d have to sign a 2-year ELC and then Colorado would still have his rights in free agency once that’s up. Considering how ass the Avs have been recently, that would suck a whole giant bag full of dicks for Billy Butcher.

So you want me to finally get to my fucking point already and quit being such a long-winded jabroni? Okay, fine. The college free agency rule in the NHL is a good thing because for these kids who take advantage of it, it’s really their only opportunity to make their own decision in the league before they’re like 25 or 26 years old. You want me to feel bad for a couple of billionaire owners because they don’t get to hold on to the rights of absolutely every single player they ever laid eyes on? While they give them the shaft all the way through the early parts of their prime? Sorry, no can do. I’m a player’s blogger. Always have been, always will be. Whenever there’s a conflict between player and owner or player and coach or player and whoever, I’m always going to side with the player. Because I’m ferda boys like that. If the Colorado Avalanche really wanted to hold on to Billy Butcher that bad, maybe they shouldn’t have been the worst team in league history last year and dolled themselves up a little better.