Three weeks after the death of top prospect Alexei Cherepanov, the New York Rangers are seeking a compensatory pick in the second round of the 2009 NHL draft, saying "with all due respect to Alexei's family and his memory, he is technically eligible to be drafted again next year," the New York Post has reported.
The team is citing Article 8.3 (b) in the NHL's collective bargaining agreement, which mandates compensatory selections be provided when teams are unable to sign first-round draft picks.
"The question is with the one parenthetical phrase in Article 8.3 (b) that refers compensation for an unsigned first-round draft pick who is ' again eligible for the Entry Draft or becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent,'" Rangers assistant general manager Cam Hope told the newspaper. "That language was inserted to clarify that a team would be owed a compensatory pick even if they were to re-draft that player or sign him as a free agent.
"It seems now as if that phrase is unintentionally precluding the deceased from being included as eligible for compensation. We understand that this is a sensitive issue, but with all due respect to Alexei's family and his memory, he is technically eligible to be drafted again next year."
Cherepanov was the 17th selection in the 2007 draft. He died Oct. 13 after collapsing during a game in Russia while playing in a Continental Hockey League game with the Omsk club Avangard. He was 19 years old.
"We are not attempting to capitalize on a tragedy, but there would be no question regarding the Rangers' right to a compensatory pick if Cherepanov had been revived and survived the incident and were on life support," Hope said.
"If an unsigned player sustained a massive injury on or off the ice, the drafting team would get a compensatory pick.
"We believe that the letter of the law applies in this case, but even if there is a disagreement on that, it's clear that the spirit of the law applies."
Rangers general manager Glen Sather first put the matter on the table in Chicago last month at the league's GM meetings, the Post reported.
"At this point, the league has taken no position on the Rangers' request," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the newspaper. "The matter is in front of the league's general managers, who will address the subject at their next meeting in March.
"It's possible that the language of the CBA would need to be amended to address situations such as this one. If that's the case, then we would need to negotiate that with the Players' Association."