We'd explored recently whether the Canadiens should offer a contract to Josiah Didier, a fourth-round pick in 2011 who's finished his NCAA career this spring. We had concluded that there was no real harm in doing so, the Canadiens probably should sign him, but some doubters felt it might be better to walk away, as we did with Brady Vail last summer.
In a Solomonic decision, the Canadiens cut the baby in half: they didn’t sign Josiah to an NHL Entry-Level Contract, but they did get him to sign an AHL contract with the IceCaps.
I guess he and his agent felt that was the best option for him right now. Of course it’s not ideal for him to sign an AHL deal rather than an NHL contract, like Mark MacMillan did after his four years in the NCAA. Marc Bergevin wanted to sew him up, but obviously has reservations with Josiah.
On the Canadiens’ part, it leaves open one of the 50-contract slots, and means a very small commitment, instead of a full-blown Entry Level Contract, which I believe for a NCAA senior would run two years. I guess it indicates that they want him to prove himself further, at the pro level. He’s a big kid, good defensively, but his lack of offensive skills may not allow him to prosper as a pro.
It also means that any NHL team could sign him to an NHL deal right now, but that risk is very small, I guess Josiah’s agent would have taken the pulse, would have refused an AHL deal if he’d sensed some interest from another team. And as some have explained before, usually a player and agent will allow the parent club first dibs on signing them, if they start getting interest from other NHL teams along the way.
For Josiah, he has a long road ahead of him. Not only does he have to prove himself, but he has to fight through the thicket of rightie defencemen we have in the system. Sure, Greg Pateryn is probably not going back down to the AHL, since he’d have to go through waivers, and Magnus Nygren is staying in Sweden, but he still has Morgan Ellis, Darren Dietz, Dalton Thrower and Brett Lernout ahead of him on the IceCaps’ depth chart.
So he’ll probably spend some time on the Brampton Beast roster in the ECHL and have to work himself up the ladder to earn an ELC. He’s still in the organization, and can earn an NHL deal down the road with his play.
Good outcome overall, probably better than the one where he'd signed an ELC.
The Canadiens keep the kid in the fold, with the proviso that he’s free and clear to sign with another team if they approach him with an NHL deal. So the Canadiens are kind of like the guy who wants to date a girl, but keep it casual, keep his options open, and then decide if another guy comes sniffing around.