By Brian Weidler
As I posted at the STLToday Blues board, the provisions of the new CBA allow a team to retain the rights to drafted Europeans for only two years after their draft year, unlike in the past where teams retained the rights to drafted Europeans indefinitely.
In my mind, this represents an unfair advantage to the big-market, big-revenue clubs -- the Detroits, Torontos, Rangers, etc. A mid-market team like the Blues can draft a top-notch European player, and if they can't pay that player NHL money right off the bat, and/or "guarantee" that player an NHL roster spot, the player is free to hold out for two years and then sign as a free agent with another team who can afford to give them a one-way contract, paying them NHL money while having them play for their AHL affiliate.
For that reason, I think I can safely say that you won't see teams like the Blues drafting as many Europeans in the future without guarantees from the player that they'll be coming right away over to try their hand in North America. It just doesn't make sense to spend a high pick on a player only to have him hold out for two years and go elsewhere with no compensation whatsoever coming back your way.
This will probably keep the Blues away from drafting a Nicklas Backstrom with their first-round pick, and that's a shame, because Backstrom is the kind of "complete" player that this team needs to spend their high picks on.
There are a few Europeans that I'd like to see the Blues go after, however...