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Rangers Compensatory Draft Pick For Cherepanov

One under-reported decision that comes out of the GM meetings (although Mike Chen is reporting this) is the NHL’s decision to give a compensatory draft pick to the New York Rangers for the death of Alexei Cherepanov.

Cherepanov was drafted by the New York Rangers in the first round of the 2007 entry draft.  He was selected 17th overall.  Earlier this season he died, while playing a game in the KHL.  The Rangers never had a chance to sign him.  When a team fails to sign a first round draft pick the CBA gives them a compensatory draft pick.  If the pick was 17th overall in the first round, the compensatory pick will be the 17th selection in the second round.  Since Cherepanov died, the Rangers will not sign him.  Therefore the Rangers are getting a compensatory draft pick.  The New York Rangers will have the 17th selection in the second round.

The NHL used to give out compensatory picks for teams that lost more unrestricted free agents than they signed (and this led to teams trading for pending free agents just before free agency began in order to get a compensatory pick that would be unavailable to their current team).  That practise is no longer done.  Last year, the only compensatory pick was given to Phoenix because they had been unable to sign Blake Wheeler (who is now playing with the Boston Bruins).  Since Wheeler had been the fifth pick in the 2004 draft, Phoenix was awarded the fifth pick in the second round (35th overall).  This pick was traded to Anaheim who selected Nicolas Deschamps.

The problem with compensatory draft picks is that everyone suffers as a result of them.  Phoenix was given an extra pick at 35th overall and every pick after that point was suddenly one position later than it should have been.  Why should my team have to pick one position later because Phoenix couldn’t sign Wheeler or because Cherepanov died?  It makes no sense for my team to have worse draft picks because of this.

I am sure that it happens that the player a team wanted to select was chosen in the pick immediately before them (a pick that would have been their own had there not been a compensatory draft pick).  That seems to happen to me at least once per fantasy sports draft I am in - so I am sure it happens in the NHL as well.  These compensatory draft picks do hurt the other teams in the league.  In order to compensate a team all the other teams give something up with later draft picks.  I don’t think there should be any compensatory draft picks.

The NHL entry draft is inherently risky.  If you draft a player he might not develop, he might not want to sign with your team and as is the case of Alexei Cherepanov, he might die.  That is life.  That risk exists for everyone.  Should your pick be the unlucky one, that is too bad.  You took a chance and lost.

As the rule stands right now, the Rangers are getting a compensatory pick for Cherepanov only because they did not sign him.  Had they signed him last summer and he decided to play one more year in Europe before coming to the NHL and died in exactly the same way, there would be no compensatory draft pick at all.  Does that make sense?  It is an awfully strange distinction for a compensatory pick.  If a player dies before you sign him, then you get one, but if he signs and then dies you don’t.  That seems to be the way the rules should be interpreted from how they are written (and from this precedent).

I don’t like compensatory picks.  Why should everyone in the league have their picks moved backwards because a team could not sign a former first round pick?  A compensatory pick punishes each team in the league a little bit to reward a team that had been unlucky.  I don’t think the NHL should offer compensatory picks to anyone.  Unfortunately, the New York Rangers will have one this year since Alexei Cherepanov died while unsigned.

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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