CHL investigating Morin’s pro eligibility

Kitchener Rangers forward Jeremy Morin.
Aaron Bell/OHL Images

The Canadian Hockey League is currently in discussions with the NHL over whether or not Kitchener Rangers star forward Jeremy Morin is eligible to play in the American Hockey League this season.

The umbrella league which governs the OHL, WHL and QMJHL has an agreement in place with the NHL where players drafted out of the CHL can only play in the AHL if they turn 20 years old by Dec. 31 or have played in the CHL for four seasons.

Morin, who turned 19 in April, was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers—45th overall—in 2009 out of the U.S. National Team Development Program, though he had agreed to join the Rangers the following season.

“Jeremy was not drafted as a member of a CHL team, however there are certain provisions in the NHL-CHL agreement which contemplate what happens in terms of where a player may be assigned to etc. based on where he’s drafted from,” CHL president and OHL commissioner Dave Branch told Yahoo! Sports. “So we’re working through that with the NHL and waiting to hear back from them.

“The very fact that we’ve asked the NHL for their position and their thoughts on it certainly in our mind there is some question (about his eligibility).”

Branch, in Toronto attending the World Hockey Summit, says he expects to hear from the NHL shortly with their decision.

Morin’s NHL rights were traded by the Thrashers to the Chicago Blackhawks in June as part of the deal for winger Dustin Byfuglien. The Blackhawks, through a team spokesperson, refused to comment on Morin’s status.

According to sources, the Blackhawks – who are planning to develop a number of young prospects in the AHL this season – expected to have Morin with their minor league affiliate in Rockford, Ill., instead of Kitchener.

“Jeremy, for us, would be an impact player – I had assumed that he would be coming back to junior,” said Rangers head coach and GM Steve Spott.

“However, I am led to believe that he may be eligible for the American Hockey League, but I do know that the CHL is looking into it to see if he is in fact eligible.”

Spott deferred all other questions regarding Morin’s junior status to the CHL.

Last season with the Rangers, Morin was among the team’s top three in scoring with 47 goals and 36 assists for 83 points in 58 OHL games. The Rangers are expected to be one of the best teams in the OHL this season and Morin’s return would only add to their status as favourites for the league title.

Sunaya Sapurji is the Jr. Hockey Editor at Yahoo! Sports.
She can be reached at sunaya@yahoo-inc.com or on Twitter @SunayaS

Updated Thursday, Aug 26, 2010