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NHL Salary Cap Topics > Restricted Free Agents (RFA) & Qualifying Offers

Restricted Free Agents (RFA) & Qualifying Offers

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.

Qualifying Offers

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 %

$750K to $999K                                                               105% to maximum $1.0M

$1.0M or more - Contract signed before July 2020          100% 

$1.0M or more - contract signed after July 2020              The lesser of: a) 100% of most recent salary b) 120% of Cap Hit  

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. 

Signing Deadline

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