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Sunday, September 04, 2005

Hamilton and Giroux signed by Ak Bars

I wish I wasn't such a nerd, everyone I see I feel like flipping the bird Ray Giroux, with Albany

After Ak Bars had claimed a couple of days earlier (and was reported here) that they were not interested in Jeff Hamilton, it has since been announced in Sport-Express and on the Ak Bars Kazan web site that Ak Bars has indeed signed Jeff Hamilton and Raymond Giroux. Giroux is a veteran defenseman who, just like Jeff Hamilton, played his college hockey at Yale University and later spent time with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers; Giroux played in the AHL with the Houston Aeros last season. While Hamilton wasn't listed as a free agent on "Team Tracker" (though he obviously was, if he was in negotiations with a Russian team), Giroux is listed as one of the Minnesota Wild's unrestricted free agents.

Both Hamilton and Giroux have been first-team AHL All-Stars, and either player would have been a key addition to any organization's AHL squad. Perhaps one of the reasons why neither of them had been signed to a North American club as of this late a date is the new rule that any AHL player making over $75,000 must clear waivers first if they are to be called up to the NHL. In the event that a player is claimed off waivers, half of his salary counts against his former team's cap. Most likely the main purpose of this rule is to discourage NHL teams from trying to save a bit of cap money by stashing NHL-caliber players in the minors while fully intending to call them up later. However, the rule also has a dual effect in that it keeps AHL rosters younger by working against veteran players like Giroux and Hamilton-- players who can typically spend a number of years as All-Stars in the AHL, making $100,000 or more each year, while getting the occasional call-up to the NHL. The AHL seems more than willing to go in a younger, more developmental direction, especially as the league has already made reductions in the number of veteran players that each team is allowed to dress for each game, perhaps out of fear of becoming an IHL-like resting place for players who had long ago passed by their chance of making it in the NHL. It shouldn't be all that suprising, then, that even with the NHL back in business, some very good AHL players are now working overseas.

UPDATE - 9/11/05:

Thanks to a link in Tom Benjamin's NHL Weblog (spurred by a comment of mine to one of his posts, it seems), which lead to me finding this Toronto Star article, Baffling clause drives role players to European clubs:

"At issue is a clause within the agreement that has earned scant public attention. It falls under the category of minor-league compensation and is the newly created 're-entry waiver.'

Simply put, if a player is subject to waivers—- typically meaning he has at least three years' professional experience—- and is making more than $75,000 (all figures U.S.) at the minor-league level, he can not move freely between the NHL and the American Hockey League. If he is demoted to the AHL, he must clear waivers before he can be recalled.

The kicker is this: if he is claimed by another team, the team that lost him must pay half his NHL salary and that money — which would be at least $225,000 — would also count against the salary cap of the team that lost the player. So, in other words, an NHL team loses the player, the money and the room under its $39 million cap. The result of that has been a virtual cap of $75,000 on the money being offered on two-way contracts.

The result, too, is that players are signing in Europe-— at least 10 have bolted since the CBA was unveiled-— where a player the calibre of a Druken or a Hedin can earn guaranteed salaries between $100,000 and $200,000, all or most of it tax-free, along with benefits that include accommodation and a vehicle.

If a player is making an economic decision, it's tough for the NHL to compete. A team could guarantee a player more at the minor-league level but that would virtually ensure that a demotion to the AHL is permanent. Teams, many of which are precariously close to the salary cap, aren't going to risk going over for a player who is a typically a role player at the big-league level.

'If you clear waivers on the way down, you're not coming back up,' said Leafs enforcer Nathan Perrott, who is trying to negotiate his way out of a two-year contract. 'If you go down, you're stuck.'


Blogger Brushback said...

This is from

As per the new CBA, the $75,000 rule is in effect. This is the numerical ceiling for a player to be placed on waivers should they be sent back to the minors. So, many players took paycuts to keep alive a chance to play in the NHL, while others did not.

Many AHL veterans such as David Ling (Russia), the Ferraro twins Chris and Peter (Germany), Steve Valiquette (Russia) and Jayme Filipowicz (Germany) have exited to Europe to earn the higher paycheck. All told over 120 AHL players (who played at least 20 games in a season) have either signed to go to Europe, or re-signed to stay in Europe after playing there last year while the lockout was on.

10/1/05, 12:38 AM


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