With the rosters of the three new Federal Prospect Hockey League teams finally made public yesterday on the league’s website, fans of each of the six teams that lost players have mainly been freaking out about the players they lost, complaining about how much worse their team is going to be next year without those guys.
Which, it’s completely understandable and we get it, nobody wants to lose good players, or their favorite players, but these fans are also ignoring or just not realizing a huge asterisk that needs to come with an expansion draft at the FPHL level: There’s a very good chance that a lot of these players that were taken are never going to play for the teams that took them.
All these teams are getting are the player’s negotiation rights, these players have absolutely no obligation to show up and play for the team if they don’t want to. Now, that would also mean they can’t play for anyone else in the FPHL this season so it may not be in their best interest to sit at home, but there is nothing forcing a player to play for Columbus, Delaware, or Danbury just because they got picked.
In a vacuum, the FPHL Expansion Draft SHOULD work like an expansion draft in the NHL: help the new team(s) get good, but not great players to build a base, while holding onto as many of your good players as possible. And with each team getting to protect up to 12 players, more than two-thirds of last season’s roster, that’s a pretty easy goal to achieve for most teams.
But this isn’t like the NHL where a guy gets picked by another team and will move to that team no matter what because they have a multi-million dollar contract, and a contract that runs years into the future. There are tons of other factors to take into whether you make a player available or not.
Let’s address a situation like the Carolina Thunderbirds. Most of their fans have taken the news of the players lost, let’s just say poorly. And yes, losing guys like Chase Fallis, Karel Drahorad, and Jiri Pargac is not an easy to swallow pill, at least on the surface. Fans were screaming about who was representing the team, and if they had the best interests for the team in mind, or that the league set the draft up so that Carolina would get hurt the most to even out the league after their record-setting season.
That’s all baloney, and there’s no way the FPHL is smart enough to rig a draft to try and take down its most popular team and risk losing fans in the process.
First, if you’re a Carolina fan you knew these teams were coming for you to try and make you as weak as possible, so losing a ton of players in the draft, shouldn’t be unexpected. Second, there’s a reason some of these players were made available, and it isn’t just to help other teams or out of the kindness of Carolina’s heart because their former GM is now the River Dragons’ GM.
In the FPHL, the lowest pro league in the US, all these teams are getting are their negotiation rights. Players work year to year, and then on top of that, are getting as low as $150 a week to play in the FPHL. We know at least one player who reached out to us and said there is no way he is going to Columbus, not because of the team or anything, but because he flat-out said it’s not worth it to get the hell beat out of you for a couple hundred bucks a week. Then there are others, like Drahorad according to sources, who have offers from foreign leagues that will pay them amounts of money each week the FHL could only dream of.
So if you have a guy who is almost 100% not returning to the league next year, either because they’re retiring or moving on from the league, why the hell would you waste a spot on protecting them? Yes, there’s a chance they COULD come back to the FPHL and your team next season, but chances are they likely won’t, especially if they’re moving to a foreign league.
And who knows what other reasons there are. Maybe a player is from somewhere in the South like Georgia or Florida, or over near Delaware, or in Connecticut and they want to be closer to family. The FPHL is a business and they want to win, but most teams, as long as they aren’t one of the league’s star players, are willing to accommodate that request to try and get them closer to home.
Or, maybe the players just weren’t that great. No offense to the guys who were taken, but there were some who didn’t score a goal despite playing in almost every game last season. If your team loses two guys like that, are you really missing them aside from panicking that you lost multiple players?
So yes, on paper it may look bad for your team, and you may have lost some of the best or most popular players, but please try to remember: There’s probably a reason they were left unprotected, and there’s a very real chance they never end up playing against your favorite team.