A good portion of the top prospects for the Jackets are playing hockey in one of the three CHL leagues (QMJHL, OHL, WHL). A few of them are primed to jump to the AHL as soon as possible, which could be a big boost for the Monsters this spring.
The CHL rule is pretty simple, and it’s one I’m very familiar with. Players drafted from the CHL cannot play in the American Hockey League until the year of their 20th birthday. This is why we see so many players returning to the CHL for an extra year, whether we think they can play in the AHL or not. This rule is designed to keep quality talent in the junior leagues, so those teams don’t lose all of their revenue as soon as a player is drafted.
The cutoff for the NHL Draft is September 15 – which means that Luca del bel Belluz (born November 10) actually counts as a 19-year-old this season, while Jordan Dumais, taken in the same draft (born April 15), counts as an 18-year-old this season. So, with all that said, I count three CHL prospects that we could see in Cleveland by season’s end – with a fourth up in the air.
Oddly enough, there’s one in each league. James Malatesa (Quebec, QMJHL), Luca del bel Belluz (Sarnia, OHL) and Stanislav Svozil (Regina, WHL) are each already signed to their entry level contracts, and are all eilgible to play in the AHL as soon as their seasons are finished. That said, all three of them are on teams that could make some noise in the playoffs – so it’s possible that we won’t see them in Cleveland this year.
The fourth player I’m alluding to here is Moose Jaw Warriors winger Martin Rysavy, who is yet to be signed by the Jackets. He would be eligible to play in the AHL this year as well, should the Jackets (or Monsters) decide to sign him to a deal.
One thing to remember here is that call-ups are treated differently than NHL demotions. None of these players needed to be allocated to the Monsters on the day of the NHL trade deadline to be eligible for the AHL playoffs, since they aren’t NHL players. So, if any of these guys become available to the Monsters, they could be nice additions for a playoff run. This is the benefit to drafting well.
Unfortunately, due to these rules, players like Denton Mateychuk and Jordan Dumais aren’t eligible to play in the AHL this year – even when their seasons end. We’ll have to wait another year before that’s possible.
Hopefully this helps clear things up. It will be interesting to see if the Monsters can make a push and get into the playoffs this year. That kind of playoff experience is invaluable – especially to the handful of NHL prospects that might get to play in them.