There are a maximum of seven games left in the 2022-23 playoffs with the Golden Knights and Panthers kicking off the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday and the offseason activity is soon to begin. When it does, it will come quickly as June is a particularly busy month on the calendar. CapFriendly recently provided (Twitter link) an overview of the key dates ahead. Here’s a rundown of those dates and their importance.
4 PM CT: Deadline to sign certain draft picks. If these players don’t sign by this time, the team who drafted or acquired the player will lose the rights. If they remain draft-eligible, they’ll go back into the draft. Otherwise, they’ll become unrestricted free agents.
4 PM CT: Deadline to tender a Bona Fide offer to 2022 draftees. This one falls under the radar but teams actually have to extend an offer to each player they picked in order to retain their rights. It only has to be a minimum salary agreement and can be done as a formality quickly after the draft. Periodically, teams opt not to tender an offer and if that happens, they lose the rights to the player.
4 PM CT: Deadline for teams to sign international players under contract for next season. For example, a team has a European prospect that is signed through 2023-24. In order to register a valid NHL contract for next season through the transfer agreement, the player must be signed by this time. This also applies to players that are presently free agents in the NHL.
Later of June 15 or 48 hours after Stanley Cup Final ends:
Opening of the first buyout window. This could come as late as June 21st if the Cup Final goes the distance. Teams can execute regular buyouts, paying two-thirds of the remaining salary of the player over two times the remaining length of the contract. That rate drops to one-third if the player is younger than 26 at the time of the buyout.
Deadline for first club-elected arbitration. Teams can elect to take a player to arbitration instead of waiting to see if that player opts to file later in the summer. It would be a way to ensure that a contract is in place instead of running the risk of a holdout. Players can only be taken to arbitration once in their career and must be arbitration-eligible to do so; they can’t do so with unrestricted free agents. It’s rare that a team goes this route and even rarer that it’s done at this point. There is a second window that briefly opens in early July and that’s when the odd club-elected arbitration is announced.
NHL Entry Draft
4 PM CT – Closure of regular buyout window. Teams could have a second window open up later in July if they have arbitration filings.
4 PM CT – Qualifying offer deadline. Any player who doesn’t receive one will become an unrestricted free agent the next day.
6 PM CT – RFA Contact Period. Players who have been tendered a qualifying offer are eligible to discuss offer sheets with other teams. No formal offer can be made until free agency officially opens on July 1st at 11 AM CT.
If you’re wondering about a UFA Contact Period, there isn’t one of those anymore. Officially, teams aren’t allowed to speak to unrestricted free agents until July 1st at 11 AM CT. Unofficially, we know that rule isn’t exactly being enforced based on the high number of contracts officially announced mere minutes after the market officially opens up.
With more than 200 players joining teams in the draft, quite a few players being non-tendered, and, as things stand at least, more than 300 players set to hit the open market barring them re-signing, the final few days of June and the beginning of July figure to be quite the frenzy. Between those and the usual increase in trade activity around that time, we’ll be in for a very busy stretch of transactions in the not-too-distant future.