If you’re a free agent and can’t sign with your old team, you’re a UFA. If you’re an NHL player, and maybe even if you’re not, the process is pretty simple: sign with a new team or go to the AHL or Europe.
But it’s not that simple for players who are UFA-to-be. They have to wait until July 1st, when the season starts, to see if their old teams want them back or not.
Most of the time they will be released if they are not resigned by their old team. But what happens if they are released? Do they become UFAs?
Most of them don’t; they find a new team and start playing hockey again. There are always some exceptions, though; sometimes trades happen at the last minute before free agency starts; sometimes teams buy out contracts, so the player goes from being on his old team to being on his new team; sometimes teams make big money deals for players who were UFAs-to-be but weren’t signed by their old teams because those teams wouldn’t pay up. And then there are players who were released by their old team but weren’t bought out or signed by anyone else either. Those players became UF
The NHL is a league run by the general managers of the teams, so players are traded every year. Sometimes these trades are a part of a negotiation between free agents to sign with a particular team. Sometimes they are done because the player’s contract has expired and the team needs to dump salary in order to open up cap space for free agents.
But sometimes the players aren’t free agents at all; they’re still under contract to their former team, which wants rid of them for whatever reason.
The NHL operates under a salary cap, which means that teams can’t just give out more money than they can afford without risking being penalized. Teams have to keep within their limit or risk losing salary and draft picks.
But there is one thing teams can do: they can trade contracts with other teams. They just have to find someone willing to take on that extra salary or risk losing it themselves.
So if you’re thinking about signing an NHL player as an UFA, you have to ask yourself two questions: what is this player’s value? And is there someone else out there who would take him on?
There is a lot of confusion about this, mostly because the NHL media has gone along with it. But it’s not as simple as you might think. There are a lot of people who know most of the players who have been transferred out of the league, and they have told me and other writers what they thought: that almost all of these players would not be able to find a job in the NHL when they left, and that most would probably never play in the NHL again.
The reason for this is pretty simple. The salary cap is one hundred million dollars per team; that is a very big number. When you divide it by the number of contracts each team can have (which can be as few as two), you get about forty million dollars per team, on average. So if you’re a player in your mid-twenties or older who has been with your current team for several years, there is no way you’re going to come up with thirty million dollars over four years to put in a contract offer from another team.
This means that almost all players will have to go through waivers: the process by which any player on the list of UFAs can be taken by any other club if his old club doesn’t want him back. If
The most recent example of a player in this position is Brad Marchand, who was traded from the Boston Bruins to the as-yet unnamed team (reportedly the New York Rangers) on March 2nd. The Bruins acquired forward Ryan Spooner in exchange for Marchand, along with three draft picks.
Marchand’s trade highlights a few interesting points about UFA players and their teams.
First, it shows that if you’re an unrestricted free agent and you’re good enough, then you could be traded away at any time. If your team doesn’t want to re-sign you by July 1st, they can trade you away to a team that will. The reason they would do this is not because they don’t want you; they just might not want to pay you what they think your value is. It’s not hard to assess this; if there are other teams interested in signing you then they must consider that your market price is higher than it was when your contract expired. Still, the deal can still go down if your new team is unwilling to pay up for your services.
Second, it shows that the Bruins’ decision to trade Marchand was made without having considered how he would fit into their long-term plans. They knew he was going
The NHL looks like an easy league to understand, with all the stars and scoring and marquee players. But it is not as simple as that. The league itself is not very clear about what it is.
A player can be “UFA―the unrestricted free agent―” at the end of a contract and become a free agent who can sign with any team in the league. He can also be “RFA―the restricted free agent―” at the end of a contract, but only if he has been offered a new contract by his current team. The team that signs him has control of his rights for one year, but then must either offer him a new one or let him go.
Players can go from being UFAs to RFAs, and vice versa. A player moving from one team to another doesn’t have to affect the other team’s cap situation; it just means they have more cap space than they had before. Players do sometimes get traded because of reasons like this: they are RFAs on one team, and their new team wants them to stay UFAs, so they move to an RFA-only team that wants them.
The rules above apply only to the NHL’s central rules about contracts, which are complicated and are
The most important outcome of the Scott Gomez trade is that it has shown NHL GMs that they are not able to retain veteran players. This has been widely discussed in the hockey trade blogosphere.
Now, many fans view this as a good thing, because they think GMs are too sentimental and don’t realize that the “great players” who do not want to go to a new place and will stay until they retire are just taking up space on the salary cap. But they aren’t.
Here is why:
Simply put, if you have a player who is signed for $5 million next year, then you can trade him for $5 million. But if he is UFA next year, then you have to pay him $5 million or more just in case something happens and he gets traded.
So what happens when you trade a UFA? The following sequence of events occurs:
1) A team signs the UFA for $2 million.
2) Because the team doesn’t have to give him that money up front or guarantee his salary for another year, it can afford to trade him for less than he would get if he became an UFA next year. But it still has to pay him at least that much because it can’t
The future of one of the NHL’s biggest star players is in doubt as his agent attempts to coax him out of what happened to be a bad contract