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Extension opens door for Jack Dugan to debut with Knights

Updated May 31, 2020 - 2:58 pm

If the Golden Knights are able to resume play, it was presumed that prospect Jack Dugan would not be available for the 24-team postseason tournament.

But the NCAA’s leading scorer could be a factor, after all.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed in an email Sunday the deadline for players such as Dugan to sign entry-level contracts was extended an additional month to July 1.

Clubs have been prohibited from signing players on their reserve list to contracts for the 2019-20 season since the league paused March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Daly put his foot down on the issue during a Zoom video conference call with reporters Tuesday when he referred to such potential roster additions as “ringers.”

“It would be our position, particularly given the advanced date and given the fact it could affect a lot of the players who might now be able to play the balance of the season, it may be unfair to let them play the balance of the season,” Daly said. “We’ve progressed past the trade deadline. Each team has kind of set its roster. Its roster reflects — and everybody will come back healthy, which is a benefit to the teams — its efforts in the 2019‑20 season.”

However, the NHL Players’ Association clearly disagrees, and the sides will continue to discuss the matter as they iron out the fine print on the return-to-play plan.

Had the NHL season not been interrupted, Dugan would have been free to sign his two-year entry-level contract with the Knights as soon as his college season ended. Touted defenseman Cale Makar followed a similar path out of college last season and debuted for Colorado during its first-round playoff series against Calgary.

Dugan announced he was turning pro last month after posting 52 points in 34 games as a sophomore at Providence. The 2017 fifth-round pick did not officially sign in hopes he would be able to debut during the 2019-20 season.

The NHL is expected to expand rosters for the postseason tournament. Should Dugan be permitted to sign for 2019-20, the Knights must decide whether to use a roster spot in order to burn the first year of his deal. Otherwise, Dugan’s contract would start in 2020-21.

The extension does not apply to the June 1 deadline to sign Canadian Hockey League players who were drafted in 2018.

The Knights have until 2 p.m. Monday to sign defensemen Connor Corcoran (fifth round) and Xavier Bouchard (sixth round) and goalie Jordan Kooy (seventh round) or they would lose their rights.

Corcoran was one of 20 finalists for the Red Tilson Trophy as the Ontario Hockey League’s most outstanding player award after posting 54 points in 62 games. He ranked fourth in the major-junior league among defensemen with 19 goals.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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