Don’t get too upset if the 19 year old Nicholas Caamano doesn't make the roster. Yes, the winger has turned in impressive outings after the next in camp and in preseason, turning out to be one of the best stories out of the off season, but his return to junior hockey is imminent.
Originally drafted by Dallas 146th overall of the 2016 NHL draft, Nicholas Caamano spent his season with the Flint Firebirds of the OHL before getting a few games in with the Texas Stars after his season ended.
He dropped an impressive 64 points in 67 games for Flint, and recorded one assist in one game with the Texas Stars at the end of last season as he made his professional hockey debut.
Coming into this preseason, it seemed next to impossible that Caamano would make the NHL roster, but soon enough he made a name for himself and started to turn heads in the rookie prospect camp and Traverse City tournament. Even in the first preseason game against the St. Louis Blues, he showed a more than solid outing. With only having five or so minutes of ice time in veteran heavy lines that Hitchcock wanted out there for the home crowd, Caamano capitalized on ever second he spent out there. Even in limited ice time, he put up an impressive performance by scoring a goal to help the Stars along to a 5-3 victory.
While us at DBD and every other Dallas fan loves that Nicholas Caamano is still here, it may not be the case for that much longer. Even though Caamano has showed out and put himself into the roster talks in Dallas, furthering his development is key as Caamano is just 19 years old. Yes, this kid has A LOT of upside but they are not at all in a rush with him as this year’s Stars team has an impressive roster already. With Jamie Benn, Alexander Radulov, Mattias Janmark, Adam Cracknell, Brett Ritchie, Curtis McKenzie, Tyler Pitlick, Antoine Roussel and with Radek Faksa needing to be assembled into a forward corps, Caamano isn’t really needed this year in Dallas.
While Caamano has done what he has needed to in order to fight for a spot with these guys, camp and the preseason game against the St. Louis Blues, Stars fans will need to be patient to see Caamano in the professional hockey ranks for the Stars. And there’s a key reason why: the CHL/NHL transfer rules.
Stay with me now. The rule states: “A signed player aged 18 or 19 who was claimed from a CHL club and is not retained by the NHL club, must be assigned to the CHL junior club whom he last played for or owes a contractual obligation. In order to keep CHL teams strong, CHL players under 20 whose NHL rights holder deemed not quite ready for the NHL were required to return to their Canadian junior team rather than playing in the AHL during the season.” (Note, this rule does not apply to young players signed out of Europe or collegiate players who forgo their NCAA eligibility in order to sign an NHL entry level contract or AHL minor league contract. The minimum age is 18 to play in the AHL.)
Ever heard of the “Slide Rule”? Well, NHL teams are able to slide an 18 year old or 19 year old player’s contract to other leagues. By doing so, it does not count against the NHL’s 50 contract limit per season. It also allows teams to not burn a year off a player’s entry level contract as long as that player does not play in at least 10 NHL games during the first season of the contract. So, a prospect on an entry level contract may dress in nine NHL games before being sent back to their CHL team. It is a so called trial period used many times by many teams.
So technically Dallas has nine games to make a decision of whether Caamano is ready to play at the NHL level, but once he plays ten games, the first year of his entry level contract would start. The Stars organization likely wouldn't want to waste a year of the contract if he is not going to be an everyday guy. With so many options available to the Stars for the few roster spots that seem to remain at the NHL level, it’s not likely they’ll rush Caamano.
Dallas has that option at the beginning of the season to keep Caamano for the maximum nine games and delaying his return to the OHL. But the chances that happens is slim, as they would want to get him back to his team in Flint to continue his development process. Stars general manager Jim Nill will think long term on this decision, and with the upside Caamano is showing, he needs to go where he will get plenty of ice time and an opportunity to grow to be an eventual force for the Stars in the future.