Something often overlooked when we talk about entry level contracts, is slide eligiblity and how it is determined. We all know entry level slides exist, but I’m often asked on any given to explain the slide rules.
Not every entry level contract can slide. The requirements for games played are clear; 9 games max. But what decides which ELC can slide and which ones can’t? We need to take a look at the CBA for that one so allow me to explain.
ELC’s in a nutshell
Entry level contracts can be 1, 2, or 3 years which is explained in CBA article 9.1(b) on page 23. This is based on the player’s age. To be more CBA legally specific, that age is what the player’s age os on September 15 of the calendar year in which he signs an ELC.
A quick breakdown tackles this:
- 18-21 can sign ELC for 3 years
- 22-23 can sign for 2 years
- 24 can sign for only 1 year
- 25-27: 1 year (Only applies to players outside North America)
That desired slide eligibility
In my opinion, the CBA refers to slide eligibility in a way that’s slightly more complicated than it should be. I will use “calendar year” to explain.
If a player signs in the calendar year of his 18th or 19th birthday (CY18/CY19), the contract is slide-eligible. If the player signs in the calendar year of his 20th birthday (CY20) or above, the contract cannot slide even if the player doesn’t play a single game. The contract kicks in on the date specified in the contract.
The Rangers currently have 25 players under contract on entry level contracts. Only two are eligible for a slide and they are Alexis Lafreniere and Matthew Robertson. K’Andre Miller signed his ELC in his CY20 and thus whether he plains or not this season, a year will burn off the contact.
Detailed Example of Slide Eligibility
Lias Andersson was born in 1998, and signed his ELC in 2017 which is his CY19. Andersson was loaned to Frölunda and played 7 games in the NHL during the 2017-18 NHL season.
Casey Mittelstadt, who played 6 games in 2017-18, was born in 1998 and signed his ELC in 2018 which is his CY20. Therefore, Mittelstadt’s ELC burned a year off by having it activate during the 2017-18 season.
Had the Rangers waited until the summer of 2018, Lias Andersson’s contract would not have been slide eligible. Despite both players, from the same draft, playing fewer than 10 games, Lias had his ELC slide and the Casey didn’t.
Ryan Gropp and the double slide
Who doesn’t remember Ryan Gropp? The 2nd round selection in the 2015 draft by the Rangers never made it to New York for a regular season game with the Blueshirts and is currently a free agent. But what does he have to do with this? Well, back in 2015 Ryan Gropp signed his entry level contract on December 31st.
Why? Because Ryan Gropp technically was considered an 18 year old when signing his ELC. His situation was no different from Schneider today. Turning 19 after September 15th, Ryan Gropp in 2015 and Braden Schneider in 2020 count as “18 year olds” for the purpose of determining the details of the Entry Level Contract.
Rangers should sign Braden Schneider now
The Rangers capitalized on the flexibility of the rulebook and signed Gropp, with the contract sliding for both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. That gave them until 2020 to see what they had in the kid. Braden Schneider turned 19 after September 15th as well and therefore falls under the same rule for a double slide as explained in CBA article 9.1(d)(ii) on page 24.
If the Rangers want Braden Schneider in the AHL next year without it affecting his entry level contract, they have to sign him in the next 12 days. By doing so, his entry level contract slides for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 season with Schneider’s contract expiring only in 2025.
For anyone interested in the exact wording in the CBA, the document is publicly available for everyone.
Author’s note: Players in college cannot go back to the NCAA after they sign an entry level contract