Knights getting Perry, Prust back with Knights

Jim Cressman -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

Right-winger Corey Perry and left-winger Brandon Prust will be playing with the London Knights this season. Defenceman Danny Richmond won't be returning to the OHL team.

Perry and Richmond both signed with their respective NHL teams yesterday, Perry with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Richmond with the Carolina Hurricanes, beating the 11:59 p.m. deadline for the signing of junior-aged players in light of the NHL lockout.

Richmond, 20, does qualify for an over-age season with the Knights, but the Hurricanes chose to place him in the American Hockey League.

Prust, also 20, attended Calgary's rookie camp but because the Flames share their AHL affiliate with Carolina, they chose not to sign Prust, saying it will be better for his development to play another season in London, said his agent, Mark Guy.

There was concern that because the agreement between the NHL and the Canadian Hockey League with respect to 18- and 19-year-olds expired in June that Perry, 19, could be sent to the AHL.

But The Free Press has learned the NHL notified its teams the old NHL-CHL agreement will remain in effect.

"Bill Daly (NHL vice-president and chief legal officer) sent a letter to NHL GMs instructing them that 18- and 19-year-olds have to be returned to their junior club based on the old agreement," the source said.

However, there are three exceptions, the source said.

Patrice Bergeron, Nathan Horton and Brent Burns, who spent all last season in the NHL as 18-year-olds, can be assigned to the AHL, if their NHL teams wish.

"The CHL has said it won't challenge that," the source said. "Everyone agreed it's in the players' best interest because they weren't going to be sent back to junior anyway."

OHL commissioner David Branch, also CHL president, said last night he wasn't aware a written directive was sent out by Daly, "but we have had discussions with people at the NHL team level and we've been led to believe any junior-aged player will be returned to their junior team"

Branch did say, however, that the issue surrounding the three who played in the NHL last season "is a question mark. In our discussions with Bill Daly we have not been informed that these players can be assigned to the AHL (which they couldn't under the old agreement).

"In fact, we were told they could only be sent back to junior. With the formal aspect of the lockout in place, we'll have further discussions with the NHL."

Perry, a first-round draft pick in 2003, is on a plane back to London from California after signing a three-year deal that guarantees him a $950,000 US signing bonus. Guy also represents Perry and his contract is the rookie salary cap of $1.240 million US each year.

Perry is not expected to be in the lineup tonight when the Knights play a preseason game against the Erie Otters at Woodstock's Southwood arena at 7:30 p.m.

The teams play again tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.

Terms of Richmond's contract weren't released. He appeared at a team function last night and will return home to Chicago on the weekend before reporting to his minor league training camp.


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