Typically the NHL's June 1st signing deadline for non-NCAA prospects is one deprived of drama and headlines. Players typically don't have significant bargaining power in regards to dollars, the contract term limit and two-way status is a given in the current Entry-Level system and since every Under-25 player (and 25-27 for European transfers) has to sign an ELC first, it's in their best interest to do so and get the cheap ELC years done with as quickly as possible. The only real leverage for unsigned draft picks is just refusing to sign and re-entering the draft. Such a scenario is what the Calgary Flames faced today with their 2009 first round pick Tim Erixon.
In the minutes leading up to the 5PM EST deadline to sign Erixon, the Flames dealt his negotiating rights to the New York Rangers along with a fifth-round pick for prospect Roman Horak and two second-round picks. The Rangers promptly signed Tim to an Entry-Level deal. According to GM Jay Feaster, the reasons for the negotiations breaking down were due to the fact Erixon's camp was not convinced that there was a future significant role for him on the team. Due to the team being up against the cap, all the big contracts and the movement-restricting clauses the Flames have on defense, Erixon was skeptical that he would have a secure spot, and if there was a significant financial and ice time future with the Flames in a reasonable timeframe.
There is no downplaying the hit the Flames organization took though by having to make this deal. It's bad, very bad. Before this dea,l I was on the fringe on if Calgary was a bottom-five system in the NHL or not, but now it's definitely at that point. In regards to Tim Erixon, he is an NHL-ready prospect and one who projects to be a significant contributor in the NHL. Erixon is a pro-level skater, maybe even a tad above with a fluid stride and overall mobility that projects well. He's decent with the puck, not much of a handler but can move and rush the puck up and is an effective distributor on the power play. I've never really been a fan of his shot, although it has taken notable strides since his draft year. He measures in at over 6 feet and 200 pounds, but still has a twig-like figure and needs one of those summers to really bulk up before he comes to the NHL. He has added more of a physical edge to his game since his U-18 days, but the strength isn't there enough for him to be completely effective in that regard. Erixon derives his value from his game-processing and hockey sense, which I grade as plus and that's not something I do often. His defensive game is extremely sound, he's very aware with and without the puck, and quick and effective decision-making help him contribute in all situations. He's the kind of player who I project in a few seasons could be playing against the opposition's top players, playing a fair amount of defensive zone minutes while putting up good possession numbers and chipping in decent counting numbers offensively. It's very realistic to say that Tim Erixon could be a steady first pairing defenseman in the NHL. If he had re-entered the draft, I would have easily had him in the 10-12 range in my current rankings and arguably in the top 10.
Calgary received Roman Horak back in the trade, and while he's nowhere near the same barometer as Tim Erixon in prospect value, he does at least have NHL projection. He's played center and wing, the former more so internationally and has done all right playing the position with quick hands on faceoff draws. He has pro level skating and puck skill tools, but aside from the occasional impressive pass or move, he doesn't really show indications of beyond average NHL skill. He has decent shot mechanics, but is more of a distributor and puck holder than a trigger guy. He's listed at 6'1", 170 lbs., but he is most certainly not that and I doubt he's even 6'0" based on how small he's looked in my viewings of him.