The Nashville Predators will not extend entry-level contract offers to two prospects on their reserve list: Milan Klouček and Hardy Häman Aktell. This comes ahead of today’s 5:00pm ET deadline to sign drafted players with expiring exclusive rights.
There was some confusion in the past few days as to whether this deadline would be pushed back to July 1, with comments from Darren Dreger and Elliotte Friedman:
Expect the NHL and NHLPA to push back the June 1 signing deadline one month. The league and PA need more time to negotiate possibility of entry level players like Alex Romanov being allowed to play when/if 2019/20 season resumes.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) May 28, 2020
However, this has been clarified to only pertain to players initially signed for the balance of this season. For instance, Nashville could have signed forward Patrick Harper beginning in the 2019-20 season (they didn’t) and would then have until June 1 to register that contract to begin next season instead:
For those asking, the league isn't postponing the June 1 'Must Sign By' date related to the list of players we sent out earlier this week.— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) May 28, 2020
The June 1 deadline being postponed is the one found in CBA 50.8 (d) which allows clubs to sign players to contracts that start next season. pic.twitter.com/85ZyMbebox
Harper’s exclusive rights were also set to expire today before he signed a two-year, entry-level contract on March 20.
Drafted in the seventh round in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Klouček has spent the past two seasons in the Pardubice organization of Czechia. In 2018-19, he started 20 games for Dynamo—one of the league’s worst teams that year—posting a 0.901 save percentage and posted a 0.925 save percentage in 11 starts for HC Prerov of the Chance Liga, Czechia’s second-tier league.
In 2019-20, Klouček was loaned to Motor Ceske Budejovice for a starter’s workload and development purposes. He led Motor to a league-best record, losing just 5 of his 30 games and posting a 0.931 save percentage and 19.354 goals-saved above average mark.
Klouček is expected to be back in Pardubice for the 2020-21 season.
Hardy Häman Aktell
Aktell was taken in the fourth round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft after a stellar season in Sweden’s U18 level for Skellefteå. Significant hip injuries derailed his development and forced him to sit out all but 17 games during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.
In 2018-19, Aktell graduated to the Allsvenskan, scoring six points in 34 games for IF Björklöven. This season, he recorded six goals and 16 points in 45 games as Björklöven, broke the Allsvenskan mark for best single-season record, and secured their spot in a promotion round to the SHL before the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 24, Aktell signed a two-year contract to play with Växjö of the SHL.
Since the 2013 NHL lockout, Nashville has now let 13 draft picks enter into free agency or re-enter the NHL Draft. Tommy Novak was also not initially offered an entry-level contract, but recently signed one after one season in the AHL. Adam Smith was signed to an AHL contract that expires after this season.
For an updated organizational depth chart, including AHL contracts and the team’s complete reserve list, click here.
Note: After next season, Nashville will have until August 15 to sign forward Grant Mismash and defender David Farrance.
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com, hokej.cz or tracked myself.