"At this point, the League has taken no position on the Rangers' request," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told the New York Post.
"The matter is in front of the League's general managers, who will address the subject at their next meeting in March. It's possible that the language of the CBA would need to be amended to address situations such as this one. If that's the case, then we would need to negotiate that with the Players' Association."
Cherepanov passed away on Oct. 13 after collapsing during a game in Russia while playing for Omsk in the Continental Hockey League. He was 19 years old.
The team is citing Article 8.3 (b) in the NHL's collective bargaining agreement, which mandates compensatory selections be provided when teams are unable to sign first-round draft picks, according to the New York Daily News.
The question is with the one parenthetical phrase in Article 8.3 (b) that refers compensation for an unsigned first-round draft pick who is "… again eligible for the Entry Draft or becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent," Rangers assistant GM Cam Hope told the Post. "That language was inserted to clarify that a team would be owed a compensatory pick even if they were to re-draft that player or sign him as a free agent.
"It seems now as if that phrase is unintentionally precluding the deceased from being included as eligible for compensation. We understand that this is a sensitive issue, but with all due respect to Alexei's family and his memory, he is technically eligible to be drafted again next year."
The Post reported that Rangers GM Glen Sather first addressed the issue at the League's GM meetings in Chicago last month.
"We are not attempting to capitalize on a tragedy, but there would be no question regarding the Rangers' right to a compensatory pick if Cherepanov had been revived and survived the incident and were on life support," Hope said. "If an unsigned player sustained a massive injury on or off the ice, the drafting team would get a compensatory pick."
The 2009 Entry Draft will be held from June 26-27 at the Bell Centre in Montreal.