Monday, March 12, 2012

Is Alexander Radulov really still on an Entry-Level Contract (ELC)?

Multiple sources reported this week that Alex Radulov could be returning to the Nashville Predators before the end of the season, after four successful seasons in Russia. When Radulov was last here, he put up 26 goals and 58 points as a 21-year-old. He led the KHL in scoring last season and could easily be a first-line scorer for the Preds right away.

What caught my attention, though, is that Radulov is still technically on his entry-level contract. Having played only two years before bolting to Russia, he owes the Predators another year at $980,000.

This came as a surprise to me; I expected there might be some sort of out clause on ELCs when a player disappeared for several years. Yet when I looked at Article 9.1(d)(iii) of the CBA, I found this:
In the event a Player ceases to render his playing services called for under his SPC (except as a result of injury, illness or disability) during such period that he is in the Entry Level System, then during such non-playing period, the Player's number of years in the Entry Level System shall be extended for a period equal to the remaining unfulfilled portion of his SPC.
So there you have it; while Entry Level contracts can run when a team sends a player to the minors, they will be on hold if players hold out or play elsewhere of their own volition.

The Preds have agreed that they will consider Radulov's ELC to be fulfilled if he plays this season and playoffs, and so he will be eligible for a substantial RFA contract in the offseason. It would be interesting to see what would happen if the Preds argued that the ELC would apply until March of next year; we might see this issue clarified in the next CBA.

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