Maybe the Leafs should just avoid players named Jonas.
The NHL has fined the Leafs $500,000 and a 4th round draft pick for signing Jonas Frogren to a contract that went over and above an entry level SPC.
To review, last summer, the Leafs signed Frogren to a creative contract that MLSE believed was in compliance with the CBA.
Based on my reading of the CBA, I'm pretty much guessing those sections are, Section 9.1 c:
a Player who at the time he was drafted was playing for a team outside North America or who meets the qualifications set forth in Article 8.4(a)(v) (a "European Player") who signs his first SPC at ages 25-27 shall be subject to the Entry Level System for one (1) year. A European Player who signs his first SPC at age 28 or older is not subject to the Entry Level System under any circumstances.Section 8.4(a)(v):
a Player age 22 or older who has not been selected in a previous Entry Draft and shall be eligible to enter the League as an unrestricted Free Agent pursuant to Article 10.1 (d).And section 10.1 (d):
Any player not eligible for claim in any future Entry Draft pursuant to this Agreement and not on a Club's Reserve List shall be an Unrestricted Free Agent. Further, any Player eligible for claim in the Entry Draft, but who was unclaimed, shall be an Unrestricted Free Agent subject to the provisions of Section 8.9(b).As Frogren was indeed a European player, playing outside the NHL, who was 28 years old, without a previous SPC, it could be argued that he was not restricted to the limits of an entry level SPC. That's the position that the Leafs, the NHLPA and Frogren's agent Don Meehan took (and which the Leafs and Meehan stated to the media last summer).
(ii) Each Player referred to in subsection (d)(i) above shall, during the period of his Free Agency in accordance with Section 8.9(b), if applicable, be completely free to negotiate and sign an SPC with any Club, and any Club shall be completely free to negotiate and sign an SPC with such Player, without penalty or restriction subject to the provisions of Article 9 of this Agreement, if applicable, and without being subject to any Right of First Refusal, Draft Choice Compensation or any other compensation or equalization obligation of any kind.
Unfortunately for the Leafs, the NHL disagreed. From what I've been able to gather, the league argued that Frogren was to be considered a "defected player"
Under section 10.2 b of the CBA:
Definition of "Defected Player." For purposes of this Agreement, "Defected Player" means any Player not unconditionally released:I'm presuming that the NHL argued that Frogren had not fulfilled his contract with an unaffiliated club (in this case Färjestads) in an unaffiliated league (the SEL).
(A) who, having had an SPC with a Club, the provisions of which, including the option clauses in a 1995 SPC, have not been completely fulfilled, contracts for a period including any part of the unfulfilled portion of his SPC, with a club in a league not affiliated with the NHL or with any such league (both of which are hereinafter referred to as an "unaffiliated club") or with any other professional 32 hockey club to the exclusion of the said Club or its assignee; or
(B) who, never having been under contract to any Club, but as to who the NHL negotiation rights now or at any time hereafter shall reside in any Club, has contracted or shall contract with such an unaffiliated club.
Unfortunately for Toronto, the NHL disagreed and the NHL won.
I think it's grossly unfair and incredibly simple to paint this situation as any type of incompetence on the part of the Leafs or Cliff Fletcher.
The Leafs, their lawyers, the NHLPA and Don Meehan all agreed and argued that given his age, draft status, and heritage Frogren was an unrestricted free agent who was not limited to an entry level deal.
Despite the findings and the punitive measures (the loss of the 4th round pick sort of stings, but really, what's $500K to MLSE?) I hope the Leafs continue in their efforts to be creative and to seek out alternative means of getting more draft picks and more talent into the organization.
This post attempts to explain the how, but I didn't touch on the why.
It should be noted that Frogren used the bonus money in his contract with the Leafs to buy-out his contract with Färjestads. Had Frogren not had contractual obligation to the SEL I'm presuming the NHL would not have sought sanctions against the Leafs.
Again, this is all just guess work on my part - if anyone finds some answers to this in the media, please put a link in the comments.