Restricted Free Agents (RFA)
Any player who does not meet the requirements to be an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) is a Restricted Free Agent at the conclusion of their contract.
Offer Sheet/Right of First Refusal
An RFA may sign with a new team, but their current team has a right of first refusal to match the offer. See Offer Sheet. However, if an RFA elects for Salary Arbitration, they are no longer able to sign with a new team.
In order for a team to keep a player's RFA status, they must provide a Qualifying Offer. If they do not provide a Qualifying Offer, the player becomes a UFA. Qualifying Offers must be provided to the player by the later of the Monday after the Entry Draft or June 25.
Qualifying Offer Requirements:
Most recent salary Required Qualifying Offer %
$660K or Less 110%
$661K to $999K 105% to maximum $1.0M
$1.0M or more 100%
A Qualifying Offer cannot actually be accepted before July 1. If a Qualifying Offer is not accepted, it expires by July 15 unless extended in writing by the team.
An RFA must sign by 5pm EST December 1 in order for the contract to be valid for the season. An RFA would not have a valid contract and therefore cannot play if signed after December 1