Originally written July 28, 2012 on Blue Seat Blogs:
2009-nhl-entry-draft
We’ve repeatedly lauded Rangers GM Glen Sather for his patience this summer, but rumors of new framework for the next CBA could represent just another example of the wisdom of Sather’s willingness to hurry up and wait. One of the pieces of the owners’ first proposal to the players was to extend Entry Level contact lengths from three years to five.  It’s another attempt by teams to control their carefully selected young players on the cheap for as long as possible. The players will surely resist as they attempt to find an acceptable middle ground, but this labor point isn’t likely to be as contentious as some of the others – like five-year contract maximums and the split of revenue – so it could be an area where they are willing to give a little. As we saw in the new NFL collective bargaining agreement, rookie contracts were a tolerable concession point for the players.  The league’s veterans have long agreed that they should earn more of the pie for their longevity. It’s likely that the NHL players would give in relatively easily to adding a fourth year to rookie contracts and that may be music to the Rangers’ ears. Unlike some teams that have rushed to get their 2012 first-round picks under contract, Sather has only handed out a few Entry Level deals this season. Marek Hrivik and Kyle Jean were must-signs as they’d both quickly become hot commodities as undrafted finds.  Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast had to be signed or the Rangers would have lost the rights to them. But notably, the Rangers haven’t signed any 2012 draft picks and have refrained from inking high-level prospects like Michael St. Croix, who had a monster junior season. Sather did hand out a slew of ELCs last summer and many of the organization’s top prospects including Brady Skjei, Boo Nieves and Steven Fogarty are college bound and thus can’t be signed.  Sather’s restraint is also partially due to the team’s proximity to the 50-contract limit and to its attempts to land mercenaries, but it might be a carefully calculated move in preparation for the new CBA. If Sather continues to wait, he may be in position to get the products of some of the scouting staff’s latest tremendous work locked up for four seasons instead of three. Seems like pretty shrewd planning.  
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