The NHL sent a memo out to all 31 NHL teams on Friday. It said that players who are currently under an AHL or two-way contract are eligible to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Previously, the league wasn’t going to allow any players to participate in the games. Then they decided to allow AHL players, and finally concluded on allowing two-way players as well.
NHL to Allow Two-Way and AHL Contracts to go to 2018 Winter Olympics
What’s noteworthy about this addition is that entry-level contracts are considered two-way deals. This means young players who are finishing off their ELC will be able to be loaned to their respective national teams. There is plenty of talent that fits those specifics. Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, and Patrik Laine are all still serving years of their entry-level contract.
The only problem is, the player’s respective team will have to release them for virtually the entire month of February. While it is possible the teams do a good deed and release the players; it’s highly unlikley. Especially for players like McDavid, who are the backbone of their team. Though, players who are expendable and not guaranteed a roster spot do stand a higher chance of being released. This is why the NHL has emphasized that, although possible, team’s should not release their NHL players. They’ve reiterated that AHL-only players should participate.
The national teams also won’t have a great gauge on the talent available to them. There won’t be time for any sort of tryouts. Teams like Canada and the United States won’t be able to add as much strength to their lineup as their European counterparts. A Canadian source said the team will have to scout the players and hope for the best.
“The top guys would be of interest but we would need to be careful they could fit in that late in the process.”
Eligible players will first meet in early August as part of tournaments hosted by Russia’s national team.