A Clarification on the Status of Habs Draft Pick David Fischer

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What follows is little investigative tale, about how a fellow blogger and I resolved a particularly curious question we couldn't quite seem to nail on the head.

A certain time ago at this site, the question of David Fischer's status arose, in regards to whether if he remained unsigned, would the Canadiens be awarded a compensatory second round pick in 2011?

I believe the question itself was brought forth in a comments section, not pertaining to a particular article at the time. When the question first came up, I had stated that Montreal were due a pick if he remained without a contract, but a reader (I forget who) stated that Montreal had to present Fischer with a contract proposal, that would need to be turned down, in order for the Canadiens to qualify for the compensatory draft choice.

From there, I did a quick run and skip through the pertaining sections of the CBA and found that to be correct. It was as simple as this: Montreal had to make Fischer a bona fide offer of a SPC (Standard Player Contract) that would be declined, in order to gain compensation.

Since Fischer remains unsigned it was thought, pretty much everyone assumes that he has never received an offer from the Canadiens.

After pointing out the above sections of the CBA to Bryan, we both agreed that it went against the notion that Montreal were to gain the pick in question. Our e-mails went back in forth for a few days, as we individually investigated the question, looking to clear this all up.

All of this came up earlier this week when I read an interesting article by Brian La Rose at Habs World entitled "Gauthier's unexpected trade asset". The gist of La Rose's piece went like this:

Recently, it was announced that it would be highly doubtful that the Habs would sign Fischer before the August 15th deadline, thus losing his rights in the process. How is it then that Fischer actually has some trade value, frankly, more than he's had in the past?

As some of you know by now, the Habs will receive a compensatory 2nd round pick in 2011 for relinquishing his rights which will be slotted at 50th overall - it can't go up or down. Now obviously, the Habs can simply opt to hold his rights and receive the 2nd round pick (replenishing the one they lost in the Dominic Moore deal) or they can trade him and whoever gets Fischer would receive the 50th pick next season.

Quickly, I recalled the comment and CBA rule, and e-mailed Brian, questioning whether he was sure that this was in fact true. He, as I did also, had heard the contrary as well, but had come to his conclusion based on the case of another team's collegiate player in a similar situation two years ago. Brian was firm in his belief that Montreal were due the second rounder, but admitted that he could not say with absolute certainty why that was.

8.3 Compensatory Draft Selections.

(b) In the event a Club loses its draft rights to an Unsigned Draft Choice drafted in the first round of the Entry Draft (except as a result of failing to tender a required Bona Fide Offer (as defined below), who is again eligible for the Entry Draft or becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent, a Compensatory Draft Selection shall automatically be granted to that Club, which Compensatory Draft Selection shall be the same numerical choice in the second round in the Entry Draft immediately following the date the Club loses such rights. By way of example, if a Club cannot sign the third pick in the first round, it will receive the third pick in the second round as compensation.

8.6 Reserve List-Exclusive Rights.

(c) College Players.

(i) If a Player drafted at age 18 or 19 is a bona fide college student at the time of his selection in the Entry Draft, or becomes a bona fide college student prior to the first June 1 following his selection in the Entry Draft, and remains a bona fide college student through the graduation of his college class, his drafting Club shall retain the exclusive right of negotiation for his services through and including the August 15 following the graduation of his college class. The Club need not make a Bona Fide Offer to such Player to retain such rights.

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Brian contacted his sources first, and that lead us to investigate the odd circumstances behind the Minnesota Wild's 2004 first round pick A.J. Thelen, who went unsigned and mysteriously provided the Wild with a compensatory pick. As it turned out, Thelen had in fact turned down an offer, giving Minny the second rounder in 2007.

In regards to Fischer, we were back to square one, so I decided I'd start calling players agents, supposed experts in the CBA. One agency were on holidays, believe it or not. Larry Kelly's secretary took a message that was never returned. I did get to speak to one agent who will go nameless, and he dissed me off, suggesting he couldn't make heads or tails from the CBA either. Right!

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My last resort should have been my first. I contacted Shauna Denis at Canadiens.com, whom I had known from when I was employed by the site for Centennial text translations last winter. Shauna put me in touch with François Marchand of the Communications department and 24 hours later, Brian and I had the response we were seeking. 

Good afternoon Robert, sorry for the delay. I needed to confirm with our VP Hockey Operations how it works.....As for David Fischer, Mr. La Rose is right. The Canadiens would receive a compensatory draft pick in 2011 if he remains unsigned by Montreal by this August 15. The offer you are referring to (bona fide offer) was presented within one year from the moment he was drafted, which the player declined.....I hope it helps clarify the situation......Have a nice weekend.......François.

So there it is, the happy ending to our quest, both of us essentially correct.

As it appears unlikely that Montreal is to extend a second offer to Fischer by August 15 this summer, Montreal is awarded a compensatory draft pick, slotted 50th in 2011, exactly 30 picks down from the 20th choice in 2004.

All there is to do now is wonder why Fischer turned the offer down!

UPDATE: An RDS Interview clip with Pierre Gauthier about two weeks back in which he states that the Canadiens will receive the compensatory pick.

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