Learning the AHL: Development
In the final piece of our ‘Learning the AHL’ series, ahead of the Belleville Senators’ 2018-19 season beginning in October, we take a look at the AHL and the development it provides to the NHL.
If you’ve missed any of our three previous entries, click here to give them a read as we’ve explained the different types of contracts a player can sign, the ways a player can be acquired as well as detailing some of the specific AHL roster rules.
Now, onto development:
We covered this recently in a separate post but it’s worth mentioning again: Eighty-seven percent of all players who played in the NHL during the 2017-18 season have previously played in the American Hockey League.
During the 2017-18 season, 17 players pulled on both an Ottawa Senators and a Belleville Senators jersey, playing a total of 228 NHL games in the process. Five of those 17 players – Filip Chlapik, Christian Jaros, Ben Sexton, Jack Rodewald, Alex Formenton – made their NHL debuts this past year.
The AHL is the No. 1 learning spot for players before they make the leap full time into the NHL.
NHL/CHL Development Rule
There is an agreement in place between the National Hockey League and the Canadian Hockey League (also referred to as “major junior”, which includes the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) in which the main purpose is to protect the competitiveness and level of play within the three major junior leagues.
The rule states that all players that are drafted from CHL teams are ineligible to play in the professional minor leagues (meaning the AHL and ECHL) until they are 20 years old by December 31st of that season. By implementing this agreement, 18 and 19-year old prospects who have been drafted to the NHL and are under contract must either play in the NHL or go back to major junior. This is the reason why European players and some college players can play in the AHL before they turn 20, but North American players cannot.
One example being that Alex Formenton, an 18-year-old forward who is a signed Ottawa draft pick, was not allowed to be assigned to Belleville during the 2017-18 season; rather he was re-assigned to the London Knights of the OHL. However, Formenton was in fact allowed to join the Belleville Senators later in the season but only once London had been eliminated from the OHL playoffs.
This concludes our four-part Learning the AHL series. With the 2018-19 schedule now released, take a look at what games fit your schedule to come see the future of the NHL here in Belleville!