The Circle | Entry contracts, football transfers and the 19-year project


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Here’s our latest livery of answers for The Club. To send us your questions, it’s here.

Whether or not to receive the full salary

I would like to know what happens when a newly enlisted player signs a contract with an NHL team. Does he really get the salary we give him, regardless of where he plays next season? For example, will an 18-year-old who signs a six-figure contract for three years be paid his full salary even if he returns to his youth team?

Jean-Philippe Fortin

Answer by Simon-Olivier Lorange

In an entry contract, the only amount a player is guaranteed to receive is his “signature bonus”. Take the example of striker Shane Wright, who was enlisted last month by Seattle Kraken. His entry contract, valid for three years, includes an annual signing bonus of $ 95,000 and a salary of $ 855,000. If he spends the season in Seattle, he will then pocket $ 950,000, the maximum stipulated in the collective agreement. If he spends the season in the NHL, he will receive this sum in full. If he is sold to the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Junior League, he will only keep his signature bonus.

Everything is alright ? Add a level of difficulty. If a player aged 18 or 19 has a contract in his pocket on September 15, but doesn’t play at least 10 NHL games during the season, he pockets his signing bonus, but his three-year contract changes over time. Let’s go back to Wright’s example: if he had spent the entire season in Kingston, his current contract, instead of ending in 2024-2025, as expected, would be valid until 2025-2026.

Let’s continue: this phenomenon can occur twice. Kaiden Guhle, born in January 2002, is in this situation. His first professional contract was to begin in 2020, at the age of 18. He was moved. In September 2021 he was 19 years old. He compensates again. He then pocketed two signing bonuses, but never his NHL salary again, and his entry contract is valid until 2024-2025.

Have a say in a transfer


Jules Koundé

In football, during the transfer season, to what extent does the player targeted by another team have a say in their destination? As a Chelsea fan, I have seen many players with an interesting profile, sadly, moving to Barca in the midst of an upcoming transfer rumor linking them to my London club this summer. The Jules Koundé saga is the perfect example of my question. I understand that the club targeting a player first negotiates with the player about their salary agreements and, if an agreement is reached, then negotiates a transfer fee with the player’s owning club. Assuming a player is being pursued by two clubs at the same time and one of the offers is much better for the club than another, at what point could the selling club accept a lower offer just to satisfy an outgoing player?

Olivier Furness

Answer by Jean-Francois Teotonio

A player transfer in European football involves four parties: the selling club, the buying club, the player and his agent. To the first question the answer is quite simple: if the player does not want a transfer or signs a contract with this or that team, nothing forces him to sign it. The final decision is up to him.

That said, the selling club can take several means to strongly encourage it to leave by accepting the proposed transfer. In particular, he can warn him that he will no longer have his place in training. And so he won’t really play if he stays. It’s tough, but legal. There is also agent pressure: some have a bad press and a reputation for only wanting the maximum profit. At the expense of what could be more beneficial to the player.

Now, if the athlete has a preferred destination, but the bid of the buying company is lower than the valuation of the selling company, an auction procedure will certainly be initiated. It would be very surprising if the selling club accepted a lower offer than they already have on the table. Even at the cost of keeping a player dissatisfied.

Jules Koundé’s example is good. Everything indicates that Chelsea had an agreement with Sevilla for its acquisition. But the Frenchman’s preference was to stay in Spain and move to FC Barcelona. For him, there was never any question of joining Chelsea. Sevilla, Koundé and his agent therefore resisted the English club for a long time before finally hearing what they wanted to hear from Barça. But this is not always possible. Not all clubs have the same means.

Drafted at 7 pm?


The top three players enrolled in 2005: Bobby Ryan, Sidney Crosby and Jack Johnson

I would like to know why hockey players have to be enrolled at 17 or 18. They often have a late physical development and this compromises their health. Would their development be better if they were enrolled around the age of 19, as in other sports?

David Blais

Answer by Simon-Olivier Lorange

The 19-year draft is a topic that emerges periodically in the NHL. Many people support this idea. In an interview with RDS in 2020, André Tourigny, now head coach of the Arizona Coyotes, made an appeal to that effect. Choosing physically more mature players would allow recruiters to have a fairer view of their true potential, he said. On the opposing side, it is pointed out that team owners and even the Players’ Association would not be happy to see athletes potentially losing a full career year, because if they started later, there is no indication that they would play more years. Still others fear they will have to deprive the league and its supporters of raw young talent. The Connor McDavids and Austin Matthews of this world, for example. Let us recall here that this topic concerns only a small minority of gifted people. In 2021-2022 only two players have played at least one game at 18 and only one the previous season. Ultimately, the debate did not end, and it even deepened in 2020-2021, when the Ontario and Western Canada youth leagues were paralyzed. The change, however, does not seem imminent to us.


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