The news came out on Wednesday that the highly touted prospect Chase Priskie would not sign with the Capitals and would instead hold out to Aug. 15 when he will officially become a free agent. Fans are understandably disappointed in the turn of events and are looking for someone to blame.
How could this happen? How could the team let a good player slip from their fingers? How could the player walk away from the team that drafted him?
Well, I have the answer: It’s no one’s fault because no one did anything wrong.
In 2016, the Caps drafted Priskie, a 20-year-old rising Sophomore from Quinnipiac, in the sixth round. He had scored four goals and 26 points in 43 games his freshman season. From a sixth-rounder, Priskie’s stock began to grow as his college career progressed.
So how did the Caps just fall asleep on him and let him slip through their fingers? They didn’t.
Washington tried to sign him in 2018 after his junior season. In fact, Priskie told the New Haven Register he intended to sign, but a disappointing season at Quinnipiac left a bad taste in his mouth and he elected to stay to help put the program right in his senior year.
So if it’s not the Caps’ fault, then clearly Priskie is in the wrong here, right? I can hear the criticism now.
“The NHL should close that loophole!”
“You should show loyalty to the team that drafted you!”
First of all, Priskie is not becoming a free agent because of a loophole. Article 8.6 c deals specifically with drafted college players and spells out exactly how they can become free agents. It’s not a loophole if there is a rule describing this specific situation in the CBA.
Washington knew the risks of drafting a college player, as does every team in the NHL.
Why would teams draft a college player and risk them leaving for nothing? Because you take a chance at bringing in the best talent and try to convince them to sign with your team. There are risks to drafting European players too, there’s no guarantee they ever leave home to come to North America, but you do it in an attempt to bring in the best players you can.
Second, Priskie did nothing wrong by holding out for free agency.
Look, I get it, fans root more for the team than the players so more people will look at this situations from the team’s perspective, but let’s think about this from the player’s point of view.
After four years of college and watching your stock rise, in just a few more months you will be able to pick and choose where you want to go. Maybe there are better situations out there for him or maybe he just wants the options. A few more months are the difference between having one option and 31. Considering the NHL rules regarding restricted free agency will lock Priskie in place for years to come, it’s fair to want to see what else is out there if you have that opportunity.
Look at John Tavares, for example. He played nine seasons for the New York Islanders before finally getting a chance to become an unrestricted free agent. Nine. Sure, his second contract was a five-year deal, but the fact is that when you sign an entry-level contract, strap yourself in because you are going to be with that organization for several years. If you are going to be stuck with a team that long, there is nothing wrong with making sure it is the right team and the right opportunity if you have that chance.
But what about showing some loyalty to the team that drafted you?
The Caps drafted Madison Bowey too, then they traded him. What loyalty did the Tampa Bay Lightning show when they traded away draft pick Brett Connolly? That’s not to say either team did anything wrong here either. Trades are part of the business and so is free agency, even if the player is a college player who never played a game in the NHL. The CBA gives him that right.
It’s OK for fans to be disappointed – Priskie looks like he could develop into a heck of a talent – but let’s not bash a 23-year-old kid for doing what he believes to be best for his career. And let’s not bash the team for letting him slip away. They tried to sign him, it just didn’t work out.
It’s nothing personal, only business.
Other prospect notes:
- The season is over for Red Deer and prospect Alex Alexeyev. According to the Red Deer Advocate, he is still waiting for the Caps to tell him what their plan for him is in the coming months. A knee injury suffered in March will likely keep him from joining the Hershey Bears for the remainder of their season.
- Joe Snively made one heck of a debut for the Hershey Bears. Playing in his first professional game on Saturday, Snively scored his first goal, a game-winner against Providence. Check it out here:
- One reason for the Hershey’s jump in the standings? Its success in the shootout. Bears goalies have stopped a combined 41 out of 48 shootout shots this season. Vitek Vanecek is tied for the league-lead with four shootout wins while Riley Bareber leads the league with five shootout goals.
- Want to know more about Vanecek? Capitals Outsider has got you covered.
- Beck Malenstyn was named Hershey’s winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year Award for his contributions to the Hershey community this season. Each team selects one winner of the award who become finalists for the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award. From the press release:
Malenstyn was always the ﬁrst Bear to volunteer for events as part of the team's Hershey Bears Cares community initiative. The 21-year-old rookie forward quickly immersed himself in the Central Pennsylvania community, participating in nearly 20 events during the 2018-19 season. He met with members of the military, helped underprivileged youth, brought smiles to sick children, and participated in team specialty nights to fight cancer and raise funds for charitable causes.
Events Malenstyn participated in included: Ft. Indiantown Gap visit ahead of Hometown Heroes Night, Coco Packs event to help children in need for the holiday season, BINGO at the PennState Health Children’s Hospital, Children’s programs at schools including Highland Elementary, Sled Hockey event with PUCHOGS, the player skate with the American Special Hockey Association, and the club’s 7th annual Running for Rachel fundraiser with Arooga’s.
The Bears, the AHL's oldest and most decorated team, have a passionate fan base. Malenstyn's play quickly made him a fan favorite, but his personality and accessibility via team events have cemented his place in the hearts of Bears fans. This year, Malenstyn made public appearances signing autographs and meeting fans on numerous occasions. He played games with children at Dave & Busters, took part in Trivia Night with fans at Funck's Restaurant, helped welcome fans to a new local restaurant, and took part in a meet and greet event at Ollie's Bargain Outlet.
- Axel Jonsson-Fjallby really jumped onto everyone’s radar last season with a fantastic performance in the SHL playoffs. After a rough regular season in Sweden, Jonsson-Fjallby is starting to come on strong again. He scored only one goal and 10 total points in 36 games for his SHL team Djurgardens IF, but already has two goals and four points in six playoff games.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS:
- Capitals-Canadiens: How to watch
- Caps Mailbag: Looking at the playoff lineup
- Home Ice: With Penguins' loss, Capitals guaranteed home ice in first round