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No Olympics for you; not unless you play in Europe, that is

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Or is there another way a star UFA might get himself a ticket to Pyeongchang?

World Cup Of Hockey 2016 - United States v Czech Republic
Roman Polak will block shots for his country.
Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Today the NHL announced that they are not going to the Winter Olympics in 2018.

And that got a lot of people thinking.

That’s one interesting wrinkle in this story. What if a player like Kevin Shattenkirk said, “I’ll be Maple Leaf, Mr Lamoriello, but you have to let me go play for Team USA for three weeks.” Is it worth is?

What about older players like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau nearing the end of their careers? It might have been impossible for the Leafs to even consider luring stars like that to the team yesterday, but what if the three weeks off is the price you’re willing to play for elite talent? Should the Leafs consider that.

The risk of an injury in the Olympics removing the player from the team is always there, but then the risk of injury is always there. It’s not a greater risk, even if it seems like it to teams who want their players under their control at all times.

Three weeks off for the Olympics is about a dozen games, and that’s a price KHL teams were not happy to pay for the World Cup of Hockey, but they managed okay. The team that gave up the most talent for that event, SKA St. Petersburg, is about to start playing in the finals in a few days.

And what if it means a player you want as a free agent will take less money, and more importantly, have a smaller cap hit? Is that a good enough reason to consider it?

Another way of looking at this is from the point of view of pending UFAs like Brooks Laich, Colin Greening, Milan Michalek, and maybe even someone like Roman Polak. Is the grind of trying for another NHL chance on a team like the Vegas Golden Knights or the Colorado Avalanche worth it, or is there a chance that a year on a European team might lead to a turn on Olympic ice?

Did the price for those players, particularly someone like Polak who is likely a lock for his national team, just change to include that time off? Are there players, like Conacher, who are more likely to be off the market now? The two big names who might now think twice about an NHL deal this summer are the SKA stars Vadim Shipachyov and Yevgeni Dadonov.

One thing is for sure, Swiss teams just got really excited at the prospect of upgrades on the foreign players they are allowed to have. There are limits on imports in most leagues. The entire UFA class can’t decamp to Zurich for the year, but some of them can.

I wonder if this is Ben Scrivens’ chance to backstop Team Canada to Olympic glory? Anything is possible.

Would you sign a UFA with an Olympic out clause?

Poll

Is a contract with an Olympic out clause a good idea?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    No way, you’re a Leaf, you stay on the team all year.
    (19 votes)
  • 16%
    Depends on how good a player you can get that way.
    (48 votes)
  • 22%
    Absolutely, and I assume Lou has figured out how to get all the best guys this way.
    (65 votes)
  • 54%
    Gary Bettman will make this illegal just to ruin all the fun.
    (159 votes)
291 votes total Vote Now