You might call Clark Bishop a qualified success.
The 23-year-old centre from St. John’s, fresh off a season that saw him make his National Hockley League debut and win an American Hockey League Calder Cup championship, has been extended a qualifying offer by the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.
Bishop’s three-year-entry level deal with the Hurricanes is due to expire, which would make him free agent, but Carolina retained negotiating rights for the young forward by qualifying him with an offer that provides a 10 per cent raise on Bishop’s $650,000 (U.S.) base NHL salary from last season. That would bump Bishop’s pay to $715,000 next season, but it would remain a two-way deal, meaning he would make considerably less when playing in the AHL.
As a soon-to-be restricted free agent, Bishop could reject the Hurricanes’ qualifying bid and seek an offer sheet from another NHL team, at which time Carolina would have a week to decide whether they will match the offer.
However, players will most often accept the qualifying offer, especially in the case of those with little NHL tenure like Bishop, since they are not eligible for arbitration.
A fifth-round draft pick by Carolina in 2014, Bishop spent his first two professional years in the minors, but last season, suited up for 20 regular-season games and two NHL playoff contests with the Hurricanes.
He had a goal and two assists in regular-season NHL action and was pointless in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
With the AHL Charlotte Checkers, Bishop was one of the team’s top defensive forwards and penalty killers, registering three goals, three assists and 56 penalty minutes in 38 games.
He was troubled by injury in the last half of the season, but Bishop returned to skate in 16 playoff games with Charlotte, scoring two goals and adding an assist for the eventual Calder Cup champions.
While Bishop was qualified by the Hurricanes, the other Newfoundlander on an expiring NHL entry-level contract did not.
That’s defenceman Cody Donaghey of St. John’s, one of seven players who weren’t extended qualifying offers by the San Jose Sharks before Tuesday’s deadline, making them free agents.
The 23-year-old Donaghey was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Toronto Maple Leafs, but has been traded twice in the last two years, first to the Ottawa Senators and then to the Sharks.
Outside of one AHL game with the AHL’s Belleville Senators, Donaghey’s professional career has been spent entirely in the ECHL. Last season, he was the top-scoring rearguard for the Orlando Solar Bears, with 15 goals and 43 points in 68 games.
There are two other Newfoundlanders signed to entry-level NHL deals, but St. John’s native and goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick has two years remaining on his contract with the St. Louis Blues, while forward Nathan Noel of St. John’s had one season remaining on his ELC with the Chicago Blackhawks. Both players saw all their action in the minors last season, although Fitzpatrick did spend a couple of days in the NHL as a Blues backup.