Every year at the NHL Entry Draft, teams select players in the hopes of having them join the organization, whether that is direct to the NHL team, the team’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, or even as a prospect in the ECHL.
Sometimes these players don’t develop the way the NHL’s team management hopes, or they have run out of room to sign the selected players. These players often return to the NHL Entry Draft or are signed as 20-year-olds. Other times, the players fizzle out.
The players listed below have not yet been signed by the teams that selected them. The NHL teams have until June 1, 2022, to decide the player’s future with the team.
Thimo Nickl – Anaheim Ducks, 4th Round, 104th Overall
Thimo Nickl, who is from Klagenfurt, Austria, was the 51st overall pick at the 2019 Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Import Draft. The 6-foot-2 defenseman made an immediate impact with the Voltigeurs, scoring 10 goals and adding 29 assists in 58 games.
Unfortunately for Drummondville, Nickl returned to Europe to play in the 2020-21 season with Rogle BK J20, where he scored one goal and added four assists in nine games. He also played 15 games for Rogle BK of the Swedish Hockey League and three games for Mora IK of HockeyAllsvenskan. This season he has two goals and six assists while on loan to AIK of HockeyAllsvenskan in Sweden.
Likelihood to be signed: 0 percent
Ryan Francis – Calgary Flames, 5th Round, 143rd Overall
Twenty-year-old forward Ryan Francis, who is from Halifax, Nova Scotia, has always been a point producer in the QMJHL. Through 237 career games, he has scored 67 goals and added 147 assists, nearly a point-per-game pace.
This season started a little bit late for Francis, as he played four games with the Flames’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Stockton Heat. Through 22 games with the Memorial Cup hosting Sea Dogs, Francis has six goals and 20 assists.
There are some quirks to the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement that have held the Flames back from signing Francis to a contract. But it appears they’ll end up signing him.
Likelihood to be signed: 50 percent
Raivis Ansons – Pittsburgh Penguins, 5th Round, 149th Overall
Twenty-year-old Riga, Latvia, resident Raivis Ansons has made his mark on the QMJHL despite being the 105th overall selection at the 2019 CHL Import Draft. As a rookie with Baie-Comeau, Ansons scored 13 times and added 22 assists in 60 games.
The QMJHL season was cut short in 2020-21, but Ansons made it overseas to play in nine games, scoring twice and adding four assists. It was his play in 2021-22 that caught the attention of the Memorial Cup hosting Sea Dogs, having traded two second-round draft picks (2022 & 2023) as well as a third-round selection in 2024 for him. Ansons scored six goals and added 18 assists in 19 games before the trade. In the five games since being brought over, Ansons has one goal and two assists.
Likelihood to sign: 25 percent
William Dufour – New York Islanders, 5th Round, 152nd Overall
William Dufour, another 2002-born player brought in to play with the Memorial Cup hosting Sea Dogs, has really excelled at producing points and making opposing goaltenders look bad. The Sea Dogs surrendered their first-round pick in 2022 along with a fifth-round pick in 2023 and forward Simon Hughes to acquire Dufour.
The Sea Dogs are a great fit for Dufour as he has stepped up his game to another level. Through 33 games this season, he has amassed 28 goals and added 30 assists. He is leading the league in scoring by three points over the Sherbrooke Phoenix’s Joshua Roy. Dufour should make it easy for the Islanders to make a decision before the June 1, 2022 deadline.
Likelihood to be signed: 65 percent
Philippe Daoust – Ottawa Senators, 6th Round, 158th Overall
A massive trade saw Philippe Daoust head to the Saint John Sea Dogs as they gear up to host the 2022 Memorial Cup. There were 10 pieces to the trade with the Moncton Wildcats, including six players and four draft picks.
Daoust, who is from Barrie, Ontario, had 79 games of QMJHL experience when he was dealt, scoring 13 goals and adding 44 assists.
Daoust had been with the Belleville Senators to start the 2021-22 season and did not play for the Wildcats before being traded. He had five assists through 15 games with the Ottawa Senators’ AHL affiliate.
After a month off between games, Daoust hit the Sea Dogs lineup running, nabbing at least a point in his first three games. He has three goals and two assists through his first five games.
Likelihood to sign: 80 percent
Remi Poirier – Dallas Stars, 6th Round, 185th Overall
The 2001-born goaltender from Farnham, Quebec, has played well for an Olympiques team that is among the top five in the QMJHL. He holds true to the standard of goaltenders taking a longer time to develop but has shown promise throughout his four seasons in the league.
This season, Remi Poirier has a 12-6-3 record to go along with a 2.40 goals-against average (3rd in the league), and a .913 save percentage (4th in the league). Overall through 110 career games, he is 52-45-10, with a 3.12 GAA and a .902 save percentage.
Poirier has struggled in the postseason, with a 2-7 record while averaging more than 4.4 goals against per game.
Likelihood to sign: 25 percent
Tough To Get Signed
Beyond the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, it is tough for players to get signed. With a few exceptions, most notably Philippe Daoust and William Dufour, the rest of the players listed above are unlikely to head to the team that drafted them. The players will have opportunities to be signed elsewhere as 20-year-olds (or older) or, in some cases, might be re-selected in the draft, and that team will have another two seasons to get them signed to entry-level contracts.
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Former co-founder of DUBNetwork.ca. More than 700 articles written about the Red Deer Rebels and the Western Hockey League.