The New York Rangers believe they are entitled to a compensatory draft pick following the recent death of forward prospect Alexei Cherepanov.
"With all due respect to Alexei's family and his memory, he is technically eligible to be drafted again next year," the New York Post reported Friday.
The Rangers are citing Article 8.3 (b) in the NHL's collective bargaining agreement, which mandates compensatory selections be provided when teams are unable to sign first-round draft picks.
"The question is with the one parenthetical phrase in Article 8.3 (b) that refers compensation for an unsigned first-round draft pick who is … again eligible for the entry draft or becomes an unrestricted free agent," Rangers assistant general manager Cam Hope told the newspaper.
"That language was inserted to clarify that a team would be owed a compensatory pick even if they were to redraft that player or sign him as a free agent.
"It seems now as if that phrase is unintentionally precluding the deceased from being included as eligible for compensation."
Cherepanov, the 17th overall selection in 2007, died Oct. 13 shortly after collapsing on the bench during a Continental Hockey League game in Russia. He was 19.
After watching Cherepanov help Russia win a bronze medal at the world junior hockey championship in the Czech Republic, the Rangers were hoping to bring Cherepanov to the NHL this season. But the winger had a year remaining on his contract with Avangard Omsk.
Cherepanov appeared in 14 games with Avangard Omsk this season, scoring seven goals and 12 points.
"We are not attempting to capitalize on a tragedy, but there would be no question regarding the Rangers' right to a compensatory pick if Cherepanov had been revived and survived the incident and were on life support," Hope said. "If an unsigned player sustained a massive injury on or off the ice, the drafting team would get a compensatory pick."
The Post reported Rangers GM Glen Sather tabled the matter as last month's NHL GMs meeting in Chicago.
"At this point, the league has taken no position on the Rangers' request," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Post. "The matter is in front of the league's general managers, who will address the subject at their next meeting in March.
"It's possible that the language of the CBA would need to be amended to address situations such as this one. If that's the case, then we would need to negotiate that with the Players' Association."