Goepfert likely staying at SCSU
The only way Goepfert would leave is if the Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick was offered the maximum rookie deal, Motzko told Allenspach. That is unlikely.
There is a unique twist in this story, though.
The NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement states that a player becomes a free agent during the summer, four years after enrolling in college. The rule is designed so that college players become a free agent a few months after completing their senior seasons.
Goepfert, who was named the first-team all-WCHA goaltender, is a transfer from Providence, though. And like all transfers, Goepfert had to sit out one season. Therefore, the four-year period is up this summer -- after his junior year.
The Penguins are contending that they still have Goepfert's rights. The NHLPA is contending that Goepfert is a free agent. Allenspach has continually tried to get clarification on this rule, but it seems that the NHL itself doesn't know exactly what the outcome will be.
If Goepfert remains property of the Penguins, I also would find it hard to believe that they will offer him the maximum rookie deal. The Penguins have one of hockey's biggest stars in Sidney Crosby, who will become a free agent in two years. At that point, Pittsburgh certainly will have to dish out a lot of money to keep Crosby.
Not to mention, Pittsburgh will look to sign 2004 No. 2 overall pick Evgeni Malkin this offseason. The Pens definitely will have to pay Malkin the maximum rookie deal. Malkin is widely considered the best player in the world not to be playing in the NHL. Pittsburgh also has 2003 No. 1 pick, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. He will become a free agent in the near future.
And don't forget that Pittsburgh has the No. 2 pick in this year's draft and will probably have to give that player the maximum deal in a year or two.
With the new salary cap in the NHL, I wouldn't expect the Pens to give Goepfert, a sixth-round pick, the max deal. But, if Goepfert becomes a free agent this summer, will there be a team out there willing to give him that deal? It is possible.
Right now, however, it looks like WCHA teams will have to contend with the star goaltender for another season.