Dead NHL Prospect Is A Horrific Bargaining Chip

Generations of doctors and philosophers have striven to answer one question: What’s a life worth? Thankfully, the NHL figured out the answer: the 17th pick in the second round.

Alexei Cherepanov

Alexei Cherepanov
was the Rangers’ first round draft pick who died suddenly last year from — well, Russia’s doing the investigation, so we don’t really know why he died. New York insisted, with some pretty heartless arguments, that they were due a pick this year to make up for their failing to find Cherepanov’s bum ticker. So the NHL said, “sorry about the loss of your prospect. Here’s some flowers, a cheese plate, and a compensatory draft pick.”

Will that be enough to satisfy the Rangers, who demand blood for blood?

Cherepanov was a can’t-miss player who died tragically before his career even began. For those of you who don’t speak NHL, think Len Bias, with less cocaine and less fawning Bill Simmons columns. So naturally the Rangers felt like they were entitled to something in return. But did they have to be so businesslike about it?

“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 re-draft 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. We understand that this is a sensitive issue, but with all due respect to Alexei’s family and his memory, he is technically eligible to be drafted again next year.”

Jesus, that’s cold. Would they have drafted his corpse to make a point if they hadn’t gotten what they wanted? Notice the poor assistant GM had to make this statement; Glen Sather wasn’t touching this one with a 10-foot pole.

At the NHL’s GM meetings yesterday, the league signed off on awarding the Rangers the 17th pick in the second round. Cherepanov had been the 17th overall pick in 2007.

Since everyone involved with this feels dirty - even me - the NHL is making sure this doesn’t happen again (Not the untimely deaths, but the arguments). The CBA will be amended this offseason to insert clear rules about dead prospects. Hey, it’s a business.