In any career, what is the ultimate goal? Most would say, advance themselves, earn a promotion, make an impact; all things of that nature. It’s natural human instinct to want to flourish – no matter the position or opportunity. In any employment position, you need to prove your worth in order to retain your position or move up in the ranks. For a Canadian Hockey League franchise, it is no different. That said, that way of thinking could jeopardize the future of some CHL franchises. It’s time to change. Here is why:
Trade Deadlines See CHL General Managers Mortgaging the Future
Let’s play GM
Imagine yourself as a general manager of a hockey team (we’ve all done it). In this case, put on your Canadian Hockey League GM cap. Major junior hockey is a great way to establish yourself as a general manager as well as use as a stepping stone to build your reputation. What are you trying to accomplish? Well, although you are competing to win a championship, you are also thinking of your future as a manager. Eventually, your goal is to become a general manager at a more professional level.
How do you reach the professional levels? It’s simple. You win. How do you win? By trading away draft picks that will not affect you, of course. That’s right, why trade a future draft pick that could have an impact during your time as a general manager? Why not trade a draft pick that you probably will not use or see? Although an immediate impact, CHL franchises are then exposed to future constraints. However, that is exactly what happened when the Kingston Frontenacs traded away a conditional 2028 draft pick at this year’s trade deadline. In retrospect, the Frontenacs traded a pick that will be used on a player, who is currently a five-year-old child.
Looking to the Future
I am not implying that Kingston’s general manager Darren Kelly is planning on leaving Kingston. However, I am implying that, if given the opportunity to improve your current roster by trading a draft pick 8-10 years from now, who wouldn’t consider that. The CHL should consider putting rules in place to limit managers from trading the future. Any draft picked traded beyond five years is not warranted. Outside of Warren Rychel in Windsor and Mark Hunter and Dale Hunter in London, most general managers do not own the team, therefore are focused on the short-term success opposed to the long-term effects of a team. Already, the Ontario Hockey League has a rule in place that prevents 1st round draft picks from being dealt, for this exact reason. That said, the OHL cannot limit the number of draft picks available for trade, otherwise, they would be artificially cratoring the trade market.
The solution for the CHL?
CHL teams need insurance for their franchises. There is currently no protection when it comes to future draft picks being dealt. Given the short-period to win in major junior hockey, general managers are unwilling to protect the franchise themselves. For that reason, the CHL should consider implementing rules that will limit general managers from trading draft picks outside of their contract years; or any transactions involving draft picks beyond five years, requires ownership approval prior to being processed.