When Team Canada released its roster for the Under-20 Summer Showcase, there was one name that stood out: Joel Teasdale.
Teasdale was listed as eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft, which in itself is not particularly notable. Some players are invited to camp before being drafted. But not many have already gone through a draft without being taken like Teasdale has.
And on the surface, it looks weird that the Montreal Canadiens would invite Teasdale to both their development camp and rookie camp and invest time and a roster space in him when any team can simply take him in the upcoming Draft.
And he’s not alone. The same applies to the other try outs: goaltenders Stephen Dhillon and Samuel Harvey, defenceman Aleksi Anttalainen, and forwards Brandon Hagel and Alexander Katerinakis. Only Anttalainen was not at the team’s development camp.
However, there is a chance that the try outs don’t even make it to the 2019 Draft.
Even though players are eligible for the NHL Draft until they are 20 years old, there is a window for players who played in North America the previous season to sign NHL contracts despite still being under that mark. CHL players who have gone through at least one NHL Draft can sign a contract with an NHL team up until the CHL season begins. Any player invited to an NHL camp has an additional window: They can be signed up until the NHL season starts.
There is precedent for this for teams who want to lock up a player. Defenceman Joe Hicketts went through the 2014 Draft without being selected. He went to Detroit Red Wings camp and signed a contract in September before representing Canada at two World Junior championships. Philippe Myers did the same thing in 2015 with the Philadelphia Flyers.
So while it seems that the Canadiens don’t have any power until the 2019 Draft when it comes to the prospects they invited to camp, they actually have a chance to lock them up if they like what they see.
Of course, Teasdale - and the other invites - would need to want to sign with the Canadiens in order to not take their chances with the Draft but you have to think that if a team comes to you with an NHL contract, declining it would be an awfully big gamble. Add to the fact that the Armada graduates (all except Harvey and Hagel) would be able to start their professional careers under Joël Bouchard and the Laval Rocket, someone they played under in the QMJHL. (Of the try outs, only Teasdale (as an early 1999-born player) is required to go back to the QMJHL. The others have the choice of going to the AHL.)
So, when these players suit up at the rookie tournament, the try outs, as well as Habs prospect Cale Fleury, will be looking to impress the Canadiens brass in order to try to secure their first professional contract.