Since 1992, the Canadian Hockey League’s Major Junior Teams have participated in an annual import player draft. Almost immediately the import draft became a situation where the rich get richer and the poor simply stayed poor.
Rich teams in big markets have the money, and its money thats needed to pry away a top European player from his European club. Small market teams with less money are often forced to trade their higher picks for other assets because they can not afford to spend the money on transfer fees.
Some Major Junior Teams have been known to spend more money than an NHL team in order to secure a players transfer from Europe.
Under the new rules, teams will be prevented from trading import draft picks and there will be a year-long moratorium on the trading of imports once they have been selected. All 60 Major Junior Clubs will still be allowed to carry a maximum of two imports. Preventing the trading of import picks will also stop teams which have filled their import quotas from obtaining additional assets in the leagues’ regular draft. These changes are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
In theory this should drive down the cost of prying a player away from his European club. The new rules are intended to keep smaller-market clubs, which might not have the money to bring top players to Canada from trading away picks to the larger market and more monied teams.
Unfortunately this could, in the short term anyway, leave some small market teams with untradable assets if the player refuses to report to the team drafting him. While it is expected that players will eventually come if they want to play in Canada, short term expectations are that these rule changes may slow the flow of Europeans to Canada.
TJHN will update this story as more details become available.