Though most players have to wait until after their 27th birthday to become an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with any team in the league without compensation, there are a few other ways to get to the open market. Players that complete seven full seasons in the NHL are eligible for UFA status, as are restricted free agents that do not receive qualifying offers. There is another way, however, offered to those players who don’t get many opportunities in the NHL but have put in several years at the professional level: Group VI unrestricted free agency.
Earlier today, CapFriendly compiled a complete list of players on track to become free agents through this category. To refresh your memory on how a player qualifies for Group VI free agency, they must meet three requirements:
- The player is 25 years or older (as of June 30th of the calendar year the contract is expiring).
- The player has completed three (3) or more professional seasons – qualified by 11 or more professional games (for an 18/19-year-old player), or one (1) or more professional games (for a player aged 20 or older). This can include NHL, minor league, and European professional league seasons played while under an SPC.
- The player has played fewer than 80 NHL games, or 28 NHL games of 30 minutes or greater for a goaltender. This games played requirement is subject to pro-rating due to the shortened 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.
The entire list of players at risk can be found below, but make sure you check out CapFriendly for more detailed information on how they could avoid the designation this summer.
*Indicates that the player could technically still play in enough games this season to become ineligible for Group VI free agency, though in some cases this will be impossible because of injury.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Detroit Red Wings
Los Angeles Kings
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
San Jose Sharks
St. Louis Blues
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs
Vegas Golden Knights