A bit of minor, but somewhat surprising, news from the Wild today as prospect Cody Almond has signed a contract to play in Switzerland. I say only a bit surprising, because Almond has clearly been passed up by even mediocre prospect signings on the depth chart. Almond has been a good soldier since being drafted in the 5th round in 2007. He showed some flashes of brilliance, but never quite found the X factor needed to be an NHLer.
This isn't a huge loss for the organization, though that feeling may not be shared by our friends in Houston. Almond was their equivalent of Kyle Brodziak. He played in whatever situation was asked of him, and did a decent job. He wasn't anything special when he got his cups of coffee, but he was a solid AHLer.
For those wondering what this does for his status with the team... after the jump.
From what I understand of the CBA situation, the "defected" status applies only to unsigned draft picks playing in Europe, and is a sticking point between the league and the PA. The agreement is separate from the CBA, and expired, but the league still enforces it. He is still an RFA, and the Wild would need to tender him a qualifying offer each year to retain his rights. At 25 years old, he would be eligible to become a group 6 UFA. (This is all subject to me understanding the CBA correctly, and I'm not a lawyer.
Almond still had three years left before he could become an unrestricted free agent under the "Group 6" rule of 25 years old, 3 pro seasons, less than 80 NHL games. Almond is almost 23 years old, and has 25 NHL games under his belt.
It's a messy situation when you get into the legalize, but the short answer is: I'm not sure the Wild rightly care about Almond's rights. It's blunt, and I apologize for that, but they have a new crop of prospects coming in, and likely don't really care what Almond wants to do in Europe. They, very likely, will just let him go off into the sunset.
I am glad Almond got a deal to play, and I am happy he feels it will further his career and hopefully make him happy. From a player stand point, good for him. From covering the Wild organization stand point... meh. Enjoy the chocolate, Cody.