Greg Ballantine of The Puck Stops Here has more information on the Frogren mess.
The snag is that Frogren was drafted in 1998 by the Calgary Flames, but never given a contract offer. Under the pre-lockout CBA, such a player was classified as “defected” by the NHL if he later came to the NHL with a team other than his drafting team (which no longer held his rights). This classification is a poor name because it doesn’t actually have anything to do with a player defecting. It was agreed, in negotiating the expired IIHF player transfer agreement that it would be best to treat such cases the same way defecting players are treated. This language was left in the current CBA, probably without considering consequences. Defecting players, regardless of age, were to be required to sign entry level contracts.
Anyone who has browsed through the CBA will realize what a confusing mess it is as certain parts of it over rule others and unless you have read and understood every single aspect of it you really can’t say you understand any of it or how it applies in any particular situation. This seems to be what is happening here.
The problem arises because of the defected status stuff that essentially has been carried forward from the old CBA to the new one. I won’t go into the part of the CBA which defines what a defected status player is and why Frogren is such a player but assuming he is (which seems to be the case) here is what the new CBA outlines in regards to compensation and entry level contracts:
Defected Players. Any Player who met the qualifications of defected status as per the terms of, and as of the date of expiration of, the expired CBA shall remain defected for a defined period of time, following which the player shall becme free of the exclusive negotiating rights of his drafting club and shall be eligible to enter the league as an unrestricted free agent. The defected status of players selected in the 2002 entry draft, or prior, shall expire as of June 1, 2006… Any player who remains an unsigned draft choice at the time his defected status expires in accordance with this paragraph shall be subject to having to enter the league through the entry level system in accordance with the provisions of article 9 of the expired CBA, including without limitation, the salary scale set forth therein, following the application of the 24 percent roll back as provided for in Paragraph 1(a) above, provided, however, that such Players shall at a minimum be required to sign a one-year entry level SPC to enter the league, regardless of the players age at the time the SPC is signed and, provided further, the player may negotiate for performance bonuses only as permitted by the rules set forth in Article 9 and Exhibit 5 of this agreement governing entry level performance bonuses, and as allowed under Article 50 of this agreement.
Confused yet? I think I am. So, it seems that Frogren is subject to the salary scale outlined in the 1995 CBA, but the bonus scale outlined in the 2005 CBA. How odd is that? So, we need to refer to Article 9 of the expired CBA. According to the salary scale in Article 9 of the 1995 CBA, Frogren is entitled to a maximum of $975,000 less 24% or $741,000, up to 10% of which could be as a signing bonus.
Additionally, the maximum performance bonuses the Leafs could offer are:
$212,500 if he is in the top 4 defensemen in ice time
$212,500 if he scores 10 goals
$212,500 if he gets 25 assists
$212,500 if he gets 40 points
$212,500 if he gets 0.49 points per game
$212,500 if he is among the top 3 defense on Leafs in plus/minus
$212,500 if he is in the top 2 Leafs defensemen in blocked shots
$212,500 if he is on the all rookie team
$212,500 if he makes the NHL all-star game
$212,500 if he is the all star game MVP
There is a good chance that none of those will occur so putting in ‘easy’ bonuses to up his salary is likely out of the question.
The rumour was that Frogren would earn $450,000 (which is actually below league minimum so I question this number) this upcoming season and $900,000 in year 2 and a $700,000 signing bonus. If Frogren is limited to $741,000 plus likely unachievable bonuses as it seems the CBA outlines then Frogren will fall well short of the money he would have collected under the rumoured contract and one would then wonder if he would be able to buy out the final year on his Farjstad contract.
Ultimately this is a mystery that will take some time to unfold and we’ll have to wait and see if the NHLPA will file a grievance and under what reasoning they will do so.