NHL preparing for possible CHL-NCAA rule change

On this edition of Saturday Headlines, Elliotte Friedman shares his insight on the Elias Lindholm's injury, the update on the relationship between the NCAA and the CHL, plus the GM discussion on the new off-side rule.

A major shift in the hockey world could be coming soon.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the NHL gave the general managers an update on the future of the NCAA and Canadian Hockey League relationship this week at the GM meetings.

“The NCAA is actively considering removing all restrictions for CHL players to play in the NCAA after their CHL careers are done,” Friedman said on Hockey Night in Canada’s Saturday Headlines segment.

Friedman reported that the change is not a sure thing, and that the exact timeline is unclear, but the NHL is preparing for it to be made. If it becomes official, there are a number of things that would have to be collectively bargained with the NHLPA.

“The deal could affect a lot of things, the NHL-CHL agreement,” Friedman explained. “Also, for example, if you get drafted from the CHL, NHL teams hold your rights for two years. If you get drafted out of the USHL or NCAA, they hold your rights for four years. So all of that would have to be collectively bargained with the players.”

For decades, the CHL and NCAA have been fierce rivals. Players eligible to be drafted into the CHL in their young teenage years often have to make a call on what route they are going, which has a huge impact on drafts for the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League.

In February, Freidman noted on 32 Thoughts: The Podcast that the new NIL rules in the NCAA, allowing student-athletes to earn money for their name, image and likeness, have changed the thinking when it comes to policies around the CHL.

Recently, top Canadian players such as Cale Makar, Adam Fantilli and Macklin Celebrini have chosen to skip the CHL and take their talents to the NCAA instead.

This change could open up the options for junior players across North America, and also improve the overall talent level in the NCAA.

If a rule change like this is approved, it would have massive ramifications on many levels of hockey.

The Canadian Junior Hockey League, with 132 teams in nine regional junior-A leagues, is currently an option for elite players looking to preserve NCAA eligibility. If the NCAA allows CHL players to play, the CJHL could become less attractive for top players.

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