NHL was not happy that a handful of teams signed players to entry-level contracts

The NHL was not happy that a handful of teams signed players to entry-level contracts with “to be determined” start dates, sources told The Athletic’s Michael Russo.

In a normal season, a team could sign a player to its “reserve list” on an ELC and later have that player join the club for the remainder of its campaign – much like the Colorado Avalanche did last season with Cale Makar, who made his NHL debut in the playoffs after his NCAA campaign wrapped up.

But with the season suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NHL made a rule that any contract signed at this time cannot include a 2019-20 start date. That rule would prohibit a team like the Minnesota Wild – who sat one point out of a playoff spot when the season was postponed – from bringing in KHL star Kirill Kaprizov for the stretch run. In a normal season, Kaprizov wouldn’t be able to join the Wild this season because the KHL campaign would still be running.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear to the Wild that the rule won’t be changed, sources told Russo.

However, a handful of teams and players – including the Montreal Canadiens with Alexander Romanov, the Florida Panthers with Grigori Denisenko, the Chicago Blackhawks with Ian Mitchell, and the St. Louis Blues with Scott Perunovich – later found a potential loophole, agreeing to terms with TBD start dates, which irked the league office.

The NHL has not allowed any of those contracts to be submitted to its Central Registry with that terminology, Russo added.

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