Braden Schneider has been signed to an AHL deal with the Hartford Wolf Pack, according to salary cap website Puckpedia.
The #NYRangers signed #19 Pick Braden Schneider to AHL-only deal.— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) January 11, 2021
With late BDay, if he signed ELC prior to Dec31 contract could slide twice (Zary #Flames did this)
W/ AHL contract & ELC for 21-22, contract can't slide.
Rep'd by Jason Davidson @tcnewsfeedhttps://t.co/qUNjBF9wNY https://t.co/jzpFKmhbIj
In normal circumstances, Schneider would not be eligible to play in the AHL at the start of the season. The NHL and CHL have a transfer agreement in place where any player drafted out of the CHL who is under the age of 20 years old (as of December 31st of that NHL season) must be on the NHL roster or returned to his junior team. Schneider, who was 19 years old on December 31st, 2020, would typically be subject to that rule.
However, because the Western Hockey League (as well as Ontario Hockey League) season still has not begun as it assesses the COVID situation and attempts to figure out an official start date, junior players can play in the AHL in the meantime. The season begins on February 5th and Schneider will presumably join the Hartford Wolf Pack until the WHL season is able to begin.
Why an AHL deal and not an NHL deal? That comes down to asset management and salary cap logistics. Because Schneider turned 19 years old in the 2020 calendar year, his contract would not have slid to next year even if he did not play a single NHL game. In other words, Year One of the three-year contract would have been spent on the 2020-21 season. By signing Schneider only to an AHL deal and waiting until at least March to formally sign an NHL contract, the Rangers ensure that Year One of the entry-level contract begins for the 2021-22 season instead.
Effectively, it ensures the Rangers don’t waste a year of his entry-level contract.
Schneider is physically mature and is a smart defender. While COVID’s disruption of hockey absolutely sucks, the Rangers are likely pleased that in this case it at least affords Schneider a loophole opportunity to play against AHL competition. It’s a test he’s ready for.