From the Inbox: AHL Player Eligibility Rules


Something I noticed in the HF Prospect Rankings which were released the other day, was a note about Phillipe Paradis being ineligible to play for the AHL Marlies next season.

Judging by the inbox, a few others noticed it too, so I did some digging to find out exactly what the AHL player eligibility requirements are for NHL prospects.


“Hey GB, I saw that HF noted Paradis can’t play in the AHL next year, but he was able to join them at the end of this season. How does that work? Is it age-related?  Thanks, Gerard.”


The CHL (comprised of the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL) has to ensure the success of its own leagues, and as such has a legitimate concern about losing its marquee players on a too-frequent basis.  Similarly, CHL teams are in the business of winning to keep their franchises afloat, and can ill-afford to lose their best players after only a couple of seasons.  To resolve this dilemma, the NHL and CHL have an agreement in place which ensures CHL franchises (and fanbases) are able to retain most of their talent for three to four years.

The way it works is rather simple.  A CHL player whose rights are held by an NHL team is only eligible to play a full season in the AHL if:

(a) the player will turn 20 years of age by December 31st of the season in question;
(b) the player has already completed four seasons of Junior eligibility.

Note that there are some caveats to this agreement:

(i) the agreement applies only to players drafted out of the CHL;
(ii) once a team’s CHL season and/or playoffs has concluded, their players are no longer subject to the agreement (hence the late-season ‘callups’ to the AHL);
(iii) the agreement will re-apply to each player subject to item (i) above at the start of the next season until the player meets the criteria listed in points (a) and (b) above.

This agreement is the primary reason you see young prospects sent back to Junior instead of the AHL. For example, Nazem Kadri was not eligible to play in the AHL this past season. Similarly, Luke Schenn could not have played in the AHL during his rookie season, but would have been eligible this season had the team so desired.

In the case of Philippe Paradis, he was born January 2nd 1991 and will therefore miss out on AHL eligibility by two days (he doesn’t turn 20 until Jan 2 of 2011). And because he has one year of Junior eligibility remaining, he is unable to override the age criteria.  Therefore he is expected to return to the QMJHL for one more season.

If you have any questions you would like to see answered on the site, feel free to send me an email at any time.

[email protected]