Six ratify NHL transfer agreement, but Russia refuses

Updated: July 13, 2007, 7:53 AM ET
Associated Press

ZURICH, Switzerland -- The Czech Republic, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Slovakia, and Switzerland ratified a four-year transfer agreement between the International Ice Hockey Federation member associations and the NHL on Thursday.

As with the last four-year agreement, Russia refused to sign.

The agreement regulates transfers to the NHL from all non-North American IIHF-affiliated associations and leagues, except Russia. It stipulates financial compensation, a limit on the number of players that can leave Europe annually, and imposes a transfer deadline.

The agreement also regulates the release of NHL players to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and the world championships.

Highlights of the new agreement include:

• The deadline for signing players under contract is June 15, for each of the four years. IIHF players subject to NHL draft-related rights who have not yet signed an NHL contract must be signed by the NHL team by June 1 in any year of the current agreement.

• Players not under contract to an IIHF team may sign with an NHL team at any time.

• The NHL pays a basic development fee of $9 million for the first 45 players, $200,000 per player. If more than 45 IIHF players are signed, the NHL pays an additional $200,000 for each extra player.

• Players selected in the NHL draft can be signed until July 15 or until Aug. 15 in the year they are drafted. The NHL pays an additional fee of $100,000 for signing players in the later window between July 16 and Aug. 15.

• The IIHF is compensated for players who sign with NHL clubs but who are not on the team's roster for at least 30 games, including playoffs, in their first season. Those funds -- between $50,000 and $100,000 depending on draft round -- will be used for IIHF player transfers to the NHL that are outside the agreement, such as when European players are signed from North American junior clubs to the NHL.

In the 2006-07 NHL-season, 259 players -- 27.4 percent -- were from IIHF affiliated national associations outside of North America, according to the IIHF.

The IIHF and the NHL have had agreements in place for the last 12 years.

By refusing to sign, the Russian federation risks losing its players for nothing.

NHL clubs are forbidden from acquiring players already under contract in Russia, but can take free agents without paying compensation.

Current labor laws in Russia allow players such as Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin to give their club little notice before terminating a contract, freeing them to sign with an NHL team. But a new amendment to the law is expected to be implemented soon, preventing players from escaping so quickly.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press