Junior Hockey Protected Lists Demystified

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Junior Hockey Protected Lists

Your son’s career (and even his life) could change the day he is placed on a junior hockey protected list.

Getting “listed” is the first step for many players in reaching junior hockey, especially if they went undrafted.

Yet, so few parents understand how these lists work. (Granted, they all work differently.)

If you’re a parent who is new to them, you may find them confusing. I’ll attempt to clear this up by end of this article.

A protected list is a list of players to which a junior team owns playing rights. Players get “protected,” “listed,” or “picked up” when they are put on a list. The get “removed” or “dropped,” when they get taken off of a protected list.

Any player 16 to 20 can be listed if they aren’t already. Fourteen and 15 year-olds can be listed too depending on league and geography. Look to my league guides for your league of choice.

Here is a Q & A list about getting listed…

Do all leagues have protected lists?

No, but the majority do. (Check out the league guides to find out if your league of interest does.) Most times this list contains up to 50 players, a.k.a the 50-player-protected list (PPL).

“How do they ‘own’ my boy’s rights?”

It’s actually pretty simple. A team says they want your son and they send in a form in to the league head office. Voila, they own him.

Can I see who owns my son?

In Canada, no. The lists are kept private.

In the U.S., yes. Find them here.

Your son will receive a call when he is picked up or dropped in either country.

Is getting listed in junior hockey a good thing?

Most times, yes. At the Major Junior level, getting “picked up” is a great thing. It’s akin to being drafted and it’s something all undrafted players hope for. All Major Junior teams are quality spots, in my opinion, so your son can’t go wrong anywhere in Major Junior if he’s not a first-rounder.

In Junior A, it can be a different story. In most Junior A leagues there is a lack of parody between organizations. Some are run like Major Junior clubs and others just don’t have the same budgets or are located in remote areas. (Personally, I say as long as the team puts up wins and gets schollies, it shouldn’t matter. Find that out in my book.) Most times getting protected is a good thing, especially if Junior A teams aren’t beating down your son’s door.

Can drafted players get listed?

Yes and no. Getting drafted is effectively getting listed. Before drafts, players used to just sign when they turned a certain age, so it was a frenzy to keep track of players and became an unfair system of recruiting. The draft creates organization of listing players who become of age.

A Major Junior can’t be drafted by one team and listed by another Major Junior team. (Same with two teams within a Junior A league.) A drafted player can, however, get listed by a Junior A teams when he drafted by a Major Junior team. If your son is in a territory where Junior A has a draft (some do, some don’t), he can be listed by a Major Junior team too.

The draft is also the first day an undrafted player can get listed in some leagues, but this isn’t true of every league.

Can a team trade my sons rights?

Yes, if your son is in midget his junior right can be traded. If your son is in Junior at one level, say Major Junior, his Junior A rights can be traded, and vice versa.

However, just because he gets called up or sent down that doesn’t mean his rights have been dropped by his former team.

Sometimes trading rights is a good thing, sometimes not. When I got sent down to Junior A (the first time), my WHL rights got dropped, then picked up, then traded. I got called up immediately. Then while I was in the WHL, my Junior A rights got shipped twice before I got back to Junior A and I ended up getting sent down (again) to a last place team. Good and bad things can happen with trades.

What are the rules around protected lists?

Grab a chair, this could take a bit…

In Canada – between Junior A leagues

If your son becomes property of a Junior A team, i.e. gets listed, he can’t try out or contact other teams within that league. He can, however, contact teams in other leagues as long as he hasn’t played junior. This would mean he hasn’t signed a regular card. He can sign an affiliate card and play as an affiliate and still try out in another league the next year but he is tied to his parent team within that league until he is released.

For example, a top-notch midget player from Winnipeg can be listed in the MJHL and talk to a team in B.C. or Saskatchewan (or in the USHL). He just can’t talk to other MJ teams.

In Canada – between Major Junior leagues

This one is simple. Your son can only be listed in his home territory and can only tryout and play there. If you’re west, south or north of Manitoba or Minnesota, you’re in WHL country. If you’re in east of there and not in Quebec, the Maritimes or New England, you’re likely in OHL territory. Everybody else belongs to the QMJHL.

There are some loopholes where players can cross territories, but that usually happens with 20-year-olds and even then it’s rare.

As a fun note, I know of players who transferred parental guardianship before to be in a different territory, but that was usually when they have something lined up already. I don’t think that happens much anymore.

In Canada – between Junior A and Major Junior

If you’re son is listed by a Junior A team he can try out and play for a Major Junior team. If he is listed by a Major Junior team, he can play for a Junior A team. Again, teams within his respective league can’t talk—“tampering”—with him if he is listed by another team within the league.

For example: Donny gets drafted by a team in the OHL, but a CCHL team wants him to play with them at 16 and he isn’t ready for the ‘O’. Donny can talk to the CCHL team and play for them. Heck, his OHL team may help him make the CCHL team.

In America – between USHL, NAHL and Tier III

Your son can start out in Tier III and be drafted or tendered (basically like being listed) by an NAHL team and tryout for both. He can be tendered by the NAHL and try out in the USHL and vice versa.

If he hasn’t signed a card, he’s free to roam.

Crossing the border between leagues

This is where coaches and managers are getting hotter under their collars each year.

Though there are agreements between countries, any player on either side of the border can be listed by a team in a neighboring country.

What gets people flared up is that this can happen while a player is on a regular card. This means that a player in the OJHL can be drafted by a team in the NAHL, and a player in the USHL can be recruited by an AJHL team. However, if the player is going to hop the border, their current team needs to release them (and pay fees). Usually, players only leave if they aren’t happy with their current situation, coach, playing time, etc.

Similarly, a player in the USHL or NAHL can be sniped up during the off-season by an OHL team. Usually, a Major Junior player won’t cross to the USHL until he is twenty (which is still rare) because he has no scholarship eligibility.

Of course, if a player is merely drafted or listed in these leagues they are free to talk to teams across the border as well. This is becoming increasingly common and I feel something will change down the line.

I was talking to a Major Junior manager recently and he said the recruiting battle south of the border is becoming increasingly competitive.

Junior rights of players in the NCAA

NCAA players can have their rights owned by junior teams at every level. If they give up their scholarship they’ll have to report to whichever Junior A team currently owns their rights. Usually, this is their old club. Alternatively, they can go to the Major Junior team who owns their rights or barter for a trade.

What Does My Son Need To Do So He Gets Placed On A List?

Admin-wise, nothing.

Game-wise, he has to play well. That’s the gist of it. Often, a team will be watching him for a bit, but sometimes it only takes one good game to catch the head scout’s attention.

Likewise, to get dropped, you have to play badly.

Does getting listed by a Major Junior (CHL) team affect NCAA eligibility?

No, not one bit as long as he doesn’t play games.

Related Posts:
How To Make Junior Hockey, Even If You Don’t Play Midget AAA

by Nick Olynyk (47 Posts)

Nick Olynyk is a junior hockey expert and author of the Junior Hockey Truth, a book series for parents of bantam and midget hockey players approaching junior hockey. To check out his book for bantam and midget hockey parents, go to: www.juniorhockeybook.com


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