The Maple Leafs could sign Leo Komarov, but he can’t play this season

The Maple Leafs could sign Leo Komarov, but he can’t play this season

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    Just a quick-bite for a Monday afternoon for all of you here at MLHS.

    Following Dynamo Moscow’s elimination from the KHL playoffs this afternoon, Maple Leafs fans are (understandably) wondering if it might be possible for Leo Komarov to be added to the Maple Leafs roster in time for the playoffs.

    Article 13.23 of the National Hockey League Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) stipulates the following in regards to adding a player from a non-North American league after the start of the season:


    “In the event that a professional or former professional Player plays in a league outside of North America after the start of the NHL Regular Season, other than on Loan from his Club, he may thereafter play in the NHL during that Playing Season (including Playoffs) only if he has first either cleared or been obtained via Waivers. For the balance of the Playing Season, any such Player who has been obtained via Waivers may be Traded or Loaned only after again clearing Waivers or through a Waiver claim. This section shall not apply to a Player on the Reserve List or Restricted Free Agent List of an NHL Club with whom the Player is signing an NHL SPC or is a party to an existing SPC with such NHL Club.

    What exactly does that mean for Komarov?

    Well, first things first: The default position of the CBA is that any player looking to return to the NHL from a professional league outside of North America is subject to a Waiver claim. However, there are two exceptions to the default rule: first that the player is on the Club’s Reserve List; or is otherwise a Restricted Free Agent (“RFA”).

    According to capgeek Leo Komarov is not currently listed on the Toronto Maple Leafs Reserve List. So that exemption is out. BUT, Mr. Komarov is still an RFA until July 1st when he is eligible to become a Unrestricted Free Agent. So that means we can sign him and he can join the team, right?

    Wrong.

    According to Article 11.4 the Signing Deadline for Group 2 Free Agents – of which Komarov is one – is 5:00 pm on December 1st of the Current Season, or for our purposes was December 1, 2013.

    Unfortunately, our pesky Comrade will not be rejoining the Leafs for the stretch/playoff run, but the Leafs do retain exclusive bargaining rights from now until July 1st.

    Elliot is a litigator, media and sports lawyer working downtown Toronto at Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP. He completed his articles at the Toronto office of a national full-service firm before leaving to pursue a media, sports and litigation practice. Elliot currently teaches a negotiation course entitled “Lawyer as Negotiator” at Osgoode Hall Law School, where he graduated in the top 6% of his class, and was a recipient of the McMillan LLP Scholarship. He has written extensively on negotiation, mediation and alternative dispute resolution, and his paper on collective bargaining in the National Hockey League was published in Volume 19 of the Sports Lawyers Journal. Elliot currently represents national level amateur athletes involved in sports related disputes through the Sports Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada. Elliot can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on twitter