- FREE AGENCY
TORONTO – In a move that underlines the importance of Canadian players, the Canadian Football League will include territorial picks in next month’s CFL Draft.
The two teams with the highest waiver priority will each get to make one Territorial Draft Pick – to be used to select a player born within their territorial limits at the end of the second round.
That means the Toronto Argonauts will now receive the second round’s 10th pick and the Montreal Alouettes will receive the second round’s 11th pick in the May 2 draft.
The change is being made after discussions led by a committee that included some team presidents and general managers. But CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said it was driven by the league’s fans.
“CFL fans expressed a lot of support for CFL 2.0 and our international strategy when I hosted town halls across the country this past Winter,” Ambrosie said.
“At the same time, they told us they deeply value our Canadian players and they especially love seeing local kids become ‘hometown football heroes.’ We’re listening to those fans with this change.”
Fans also said they usually prefer to see players stay with their favourite team once they become free agents, Ambrosie said.
The introduction of territorial draft picks helps to address that issue as Canadian players have often cited a desire to be closer to home when changing teams in free agency.
The CFL Constitution defines a territory for each of the league’s nine clubs. Montreal’s territory, for example, includes all of Quebec except for an area near Ottawa.
If a club with a territorial pick chooses, it may defer claiming any territorial players until the start of any other round after the third round.
The CFL office is providing all clubs with a list of players who are eligible for selection with a territorial pick by Montreal and Toronto prior to the draft. These players will be from the existing list of 2019 Draft eligible Canadians
This will be the first time since 1984 that the league’s draft will feature territorial selections. From 1972 to 1982, each club had the right to pre-select two players from its region who would be exempted from the draft. That limit was reduced to one Draft exemption selection in 1983 and 1984, and then the practice was terminated altogether prior to the 1985 Canadian Draft.
The CFL Draft will take place May 2 at 8 p.m. ET. The first two rounds will be broadcast on TSN with subsequent rounds covered on TSN GO.
The 2019 CFL season kicks off Thursday, June 13th when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats host the Saskatchewan Rougriders. The Montreal Alouettes visit the Edmonton Eskimos on Friday, June 14th. Opening weekend wraps up on Saturday June 15th with a rematch of last year’s Grey Cup, featuring the Calgary Stampeders hosting the Ottawa Redblacks, followed by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Vancouver to play the BC Lions.