Philadelphia Flyers website contributor Bill Meltzer unearthed a gem of a juicy nugget earlier today, as he discussed how Emil Andrae might have to be sent back to the SHL in 2023-24 unless he makes the Philadelphia Flyers roster out of training camp.
The 21-year-old defenseman signed his entry-level contract in March of 2023 with the contract set to kick in for the 2023-24 season. However now it seems that there are certain rule changes between the agreement the NHL and the Swedish Ice Hockey Association amended in 2022 that could prevent him from starting the year in the AHL.
One of the bigger changes in the agreement was a return policy for most of the Swedish League prospects drafted outside of the first round. He pointed out that it’s not all black and white and it’ll be dependent on age, the round they were drafted in, and whether or not the NHL team will keep him on their roster or send the player elsewhere – most likely the AHL.
Anyone taken within the first round is fully exempt from the return policy rule and the NHL club has full autonomy on the player and can do as they see fit with his development. However, as we all know, Andrae was taken in the 2nd round.
One of the best things about drafting European players or players playing in European leagues is that you had the option to send them to the AHL sooner and quicker than prospects from North American junior leagues. Players from the CHL and any of the American leagues had to wait until they were 20 to play in the AHL but were more than welcome to start their NHL careers at 18. One of the changes to the new agreement between the NHL and SIF is that they have pushed the age-rule to 24 instead of the old rule of 21.
Meltzer also mentioned how there’s a grandfather clause in the agreement in terms of the age-rule, where if they signed their ELCs before both sides hammered down the deal, they were exempt. With the deal coming to fruition in 2022 and Andrae signing his ELC in 2023, he would not fall under that category.
Daniel Brière is aware of the situation, and Andrae told Swedish press that he will have conversation with the Flyers general manager as well as the HV71 general manger, Kent Norberg, to see where things sit. This is a very important part of the process because a workaround the new agreement is that the SHL club – HV71 in this case – can release him from his contract or better yet, allow the player to play in the AHL.
So if Andrae can convince Norberg to either release him from his contract or at the very least allow him to play with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, then there should be no issue.
The other workaround is that Andrae makes the Flyers roster out of training camp and therefore does not need to be sent down to the minors or back to the SHL. However, if the Flyers believe somewhere down the road – after he makes the opening night roster – that he needs more development, there’s a very likely scenario that his next destination would be Sweden, not the AHL.
The young Swedish defenseman agreed to an ATO with the Phantoms after his season came to a conclusion in Sweden. He scored 6 points in 10 games and quickly adapted, ingratiated, and assimilated himself to the North American game. He has quickly become one of the top defensive prospects on the team, which might not be saying much considering the large gap between the top 4 and the rest of the field. However, he has all the skills and intangibles that will make him a great option for the Flyers moving forward.
He may be diminutive in size but he can rock a mean body check that will make you think twice about taking him on. He can quarterback a power play unit with relative ease, has a knack for offense, but is also very responsible defensively, and he can skate very well which is usually a knock on a lot of prospects.
Making the NHL roster was always a possibility heading into the offseason. With Ivan Provorov no longer with the team and Tony DeAngelo and Travis Sanheim possibly being moved, the Flyers have a few spots vacant for a prospect or two to vie for. Ronnie Attard, Egor Zamula, and Helge Grans will be competing alongside Andrae and with a strong training camp, it’s anyone’s spot to win. Nevertheless, Andrae has a very good chance but it should also be in the Flyers best interest not to push the envelope just because he might not be able to play with the Phantoms this year.
There are many ifs and buts with this situation as it first boils down to whether or not they can workaround the new agreement and have the Swedish club either release him from the contract or allow him to play in the AHL at the very least.
Once again, all this is moot if Andrae makes the opening night roster and keeps himself stapled in.
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