NHL makes decision on future of four accused World Juniors players

Liam McCormick
June 30, 2024  (7:58)

Five accused World Juniors players
Photo credit: Toronto Star

In February of this year, five players on the 2018 Canadian World Juniors team were charged for an incident that took place in London, Ontario. Today, the futures of those players in the NHL will be decided.

According to a report from Chris Johnston last night, the four players involved that played in the NHL will become Free Agents as of today, if they don't receive a qualifying offer from their team. The players involved are Carter Hart, Dillon Dube, Michael McLeod, and Cal Foote. Alex Formenton was also charged, but is no longer in the NHL.
Commissioner Gary Bettman spoke on the players' ability to play in the NHL, and shot it down as firm as he could with his legal jargon. As long as the results of the investigation are pending, Bettman likely will not allow any player to play - if a team was bold enough to try to retain the player.
Well, they're away from their teams now, and they're all (pending) free agents. As a personal matter, if I were them, I would be focusing on defending themselves, assuming the charges come down. And I would be surprised if they're playing while this is pending.»
- Gary Bettman

With no official change to the players' status or ability to play in the NHL, it doesn't seem likely that teams will qualify these players, pending the results of the legal process. All players have pleaded not guilty.
As of right now, a pretrial appearance has been scheduled for September 5th and 6th for all players to appear before the court. Each player is charged with one count of s****l assault, and Michael McLeod is charged with one additional count of being a party to the offence. The defendants have requested a jury trial, and the date has still not been set.
Although these players are now technically free agents and eligible to be signed by any team, it would be an extremely huge risk for any team to commit millions of dollars to a player who will potentially be unavailable for a long period of time. If any team does qualify any of these players, it may be an indication they're confident a return to the NHL will be possible. Hopefully, the court system finds justice for this situation.
Source: Chris Johnston
no change to the NHL rights of the Canadian world junior players charged
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NHL makes decision on future of four accused World Juniors players

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