In the last seven months, a whopping eight Canadian players have signed with clubs across our country. While Canadian Premier League talks have been quiet as of late, is this a sign that the current Canadian clubs are making an attempt to lock up Canadians?
Assuming that the CanPL will have a league-mandated minimum for Canadians on each roster it would be wise for clubs joining the league, or within Canada, to sign in demand Canadians. As reported in the Hamilton Spectator, the new league is expected to begin play in 2018, which would leave only a year for the six to eight teams to scramble to find quality Canadian players to fill their rosters. While it is possible that Canadians abroad will want to leave their current clubs for the league, it may be difficult for these players to leave their contracts in time for the first season.
With the recent signings, it is entirely reasonable to believe that these players aren't just being locked up before new teams arrive, but allow these players to enjoy the already operating first class facilities. While current contract details are scarce, both Marcel de Jong and David Edgar now of the Whitecaps have just signed 18-month contracts with an option to extend. That means these player's contracts would expire during the January transfer window of 2018, months before the CanPL would kick off.
These players, likely aware of the CanPL's inception, will be free to sign with any of the new Canadian Premier League teams and move within Canada. From a club perspective, there will be pressure on the existing clubs not joining the CanPL to keep these players happy and extend their contracts. This also means Canadian players will become valuable loan pieces for MLS and NASL clubs as the CanPL teams look to fill out their rosters.
On top of this, the current Canadian MLS clubs will lose the marketing leverage they have of the Canadians on their roster. While Canadian MLS teams are allowed to sign Canadians as domestics expect all Canadian Premier League teams to have more Canucks signed than their MLS competitors. The signings that appeal to the Canadian fan, such as the Will Johnsons and David Edgars of the world, will mean less when the clubs try to appeal to the Voyageurs within the fan base.
While the news has been quiet on the Canadian Premier League, possibly the most telling signs it will be on its way is how the current teams make their business and player decisions. Stay tuned.
Here is a list of Canadian players to join Canadian teams so far this season:
Marcel de Jong