Qualifying Offers Due Tomorrow – A Primer

After a pretty wild draft weekend, National Hockey League teams get back to business on Monday. Qualifying offers for pending restricted free agents are due in the league office by 5pm ET (3pm MT), and teams begin to shuffle the deck in preparation for the frenzy of unrestricted free agency on July 1.

For what tomorrow means, why it’s significant, and why it may hold some intrigue for the Calgary Flames, here’s a quick and dirty primer.

WHAT’S AN RFA?

A restricted free agent (or “Group 2 Free Agent,” per the CBA) is a player with an expiring contract that does not yet qualify for unrestricted free agency, usually due to age and years of service – they’re not yet 27, and haven’t yet played 7 years.

WHAT’S A QUALIFYING OFFER?

A qualifying offer is functionally a token contract offer issued to maintain a Group 2 player’s rights. Sometimes the player accepts the qualifying offer straight-away, but most often it’s used as a starting point for negotiations on a longer contract.

And based on a player’s prior salary, a qualifying offer typically builds in a raise.

(A) if the Player’s prior year’s Paragraph 1 NHL Salary is less than or equal to $660,000 for that League Year, 110% of the prior year’s Paragraph 1 NHL Salary.
(B) if the Player’s prior year’s Paragraph 1 NHL Salary is greater than $660,000, but less than $1,000,000 for that League Year, 105% of his prior year’s Paragraph 1 NHL Salary, but in no event to exceed $1,000,000.
(C) if the Player’s prior year’s Paragraph 1 NHL Salary is equal to or greater than $1,000,000 for that League year, 100% of the prior year’s Paragraph 1 NHL Salary.

This is part of the risk for a team. If the escalated salary in a qualifying offer is too rich for your blood, you can get stuck with the player at that rate if they accept the qualifying offer.

HOW DOES ARBITRATION FIT IN?

Well, only players who are restricted free agents with a specific amount of age and experience have the right to elect salary arbitration. Again, this is a risk teams have to run when qualifying players. Paul Byron wasn’t qualified last season by the Flames because he would have arbitration rights.

WHO ARE CALGARY’S POTENTIAL RFAS?

In no particular order:

  1. D Dougie Hamilton
  2. F Lance Bouma
  3. F Paul Byron
  4. F Drew Shore
  5. F Josh Jooris
  6. F Micheal Ferland
  7. F David Wolf
  8. F Bill Arnold
  9. D John Ramage
  10. F Max Reinhart
  11. F Ben Hanowski
  12. F Kenny Agostino
  13. F Turner Elson
  14. F Bryce van Brabant
  15. D Sena Acolatse

    For reference’s sake, Calgary already has 31 players under contract for 2015-16, so re-upping everyone would put them at 46 contracts before free agency begins.

    DO ANY OF THESE GUYS HAVE ARBITRATION RIGHTS?

    Some of them, yes. Per the CBA, players are eligible to elect salary arbitration if they meet the following qualifications, based on the year they signed and their years of pro experience.

    First SPC
    Signing Age

    18-20
    21
    22-23
    24+
    Min. Level of Pro
    Experience Required

    4 years
    3 years
    2 years
    1 year

    “First SPC Signing Age” is a player’s age on September 15 of the year the contract was signed, regardless of when the deal actually began. The clock is ticking on a contract when a player plays 10+ pro games (10+ NHL games if a player is younger than 20) under a Standard Player Contract. So if a player signs an amateur deal, that doesn’t start the clock ticking towards having arbitration rights at that point.

    Based on the CBA’s requirements, the following pending RFAs have arbitration rights: Josh Jooris, Drew Shore, David Wolf, Ben Hanowski, Lance Bouma, Sena Acolatse, John Ramage and Paul Byron.

    ARE QUALIFYING OFFERS ONE-WAY OR TWO-WAY?

    It depends.

    A Club’s Qualifying Offer must be a One-Way Qualifying Offer if the applicable Player has: (A) actually played (excluding games missed for injury, illness or disability) 180 or more NHL Games in the previous three (3) NHL Seasons, (B) played at least sixty (60) NHL Games in the previous NHL Season, and (C) not cleared Waivers in the period between the 12th day prior to the commencement of the previous Regular Season and the end of a Club’s previous Playing Season. For purposes hereof only, a goaltender is deemed to have played an NHL Game when he was dressed and on the bench as a backup. In all other cases, a Qualifying Offer may be a Two-Way Qualifying Offer.

    Based on this, everyone will get a two-way qualifying offer, because nobody – not even Dougie Hamilton – meets these requirements.

    WHO MIGHT NOT BE QUALIFIED?

    I have a few candidates:

    • F David Wolf: $911,000 qualifying offer, has arbitration rights, looked out of place due to his skating in his brief NHL appearances. Based on his age, is there much point at keeping him in the development pipeline?
    • F Ben Hanowski: $894,000 qualifying offer, has arbitration rights, has been leap-frogged by a bunch of forwards in the system over the past few seasons. Then again, you need guys for Stockton, and he seems to be a good fit with the group they have. Just limited NHL upside at this point.
    • D Sena Acolatse: $735,000 qualifying offer, has arbitration rights. The Flames brought in a ton of younger, other right-handed defenders, and it’s not clear at all where Acolatse fits in organizationally.
    • F Bryce van Brabant: $971,000 qualifying offer. That’s an expensive price tag for a guy who was a depth body in Adirondack. If he ekes into the NHL, it’ll be in a depth role, and that NHL salary could be a deterrent to that.
    • F Max Reinhart: $660,000 qualifying offer. Okay, outside of the fact that Reinhart has been leap-frogged by a few players this season, there’s really no reason not to qualify Reinhart. He’s not expensive, he’s a good AHL body at the least, and he may take a step forward at some point. But man, if they just decide they want to cut bait with a prior regime’s prospect, this may be the one they cut bait with.

    Based on having 31 players already under contract and 15 pending RFAs, my complete guess would be that the Flames decline to qualify three players, maybe four.

    • Burnward

      You need about 46 contracts for your NHL/AHL teams and about $3-5m in cap space for the end of the season if you think you have a chance at a cup run. I don’t see any of the draft picks making the big team this year nor will Kylington play in the AHL so we will need to sign most of these guys. Also need to find an AHL back up for Gilles,

      • Burnward

        I fail to see what the salary cap has to do with a bunch of guys making under 1,000,000 m at the NHL level where most of them won’t even see time next season. As for singing them it comes down to, does the organization have a place for them or do they have that spot potentially slotted for someone else.

      • piscera.infada

        I guarantee you Agostino get qualified, and he should. The guy was on an absolute tear in the second half of last season (I read somewhere that he was over a ppg in the second-half). He was also, by many accounts, one of the more valuable players on the baby Flames last year.

        • Brent G.

          He also slipped past Poirier for the team scoring lead. Rocketskates had more points per game, but still. Agostino is worth keeping around for the nonce.

          • The GREAT Walter White

            You shouldn’t be pretending to know the first thing about hockey. Should have told your step dad to keep you in soccer. Remember its never a good idea to go “full retard”. Now go get a ladder and grab that soccer ball your half brother threw up onto your mobile trailer. Hee Haw!!

            • The GREAT Walter White

              there have not been a lot of Oiler douche bags on FN since they drafted their annual “suck&luck trophy”…..

              Have a McHamilton day everyone!!!!!!!

              WW

            • The GREAT Walter White

              I have a feeling my garage is bigger and nicer than you apartment …….

              The GREAT WW prediction: “suck&luck 2015” will NOT win the Calder next year…….I know; he is suppose to be the best player ever…..

              I would not be surprised if he does not make top 3.

              WW

            • Rockmorton65

              One thing you may have overlooked, WW. McSaviour has been ordained “The Next one” well before he hit puberty. With all the hype around him the last 5 years, unless he suffers a season ending injury within the first 20 games – the league cant not give him the Calder.

            • The GREAT Walter White

              Oh, I know; “Mc Suck&Luck 2015” is wonderful!!!!!

              I figure JE and SB will be there for the Calder, maybe a surprise or 2 as well.

              “Mc Suck&Luck 2015” will get all the PP opportunities for sure, but when the Oilers fall out of the playoff race at Christmas again, he will have an injury or something taking him out of contention.

              WW

            • RedMan

              I see you’ve given the Oilers till christmas to fall out of the race this year…

              that definitely represents massive improvements in shelbyville. I guess if that’s the case, then McDavid does make a huge difference… after all, how long has it been since the Oilers have played meaningful hockey in December, or even November?

            • OILFANMEXICO

              What a JOKE, already anointing him the saves, trophy winner… Heck Eichel’s going to be the best forward in that draft, and you’re already anointing. So typical Oilers…..

            • Rockmorton65

              An contraire, my friend. I’m the last person who’d cheer for the Oilers. Tone is so hard to convey in print. What I saying is, as pathetic as it is – he’s been anointed the next Golden Child. The league needs a new face for every generation. He’s this one. Because of b******t politics, they basically NEED for him to win the Calder.

            • RedMan

              if oiler fans here have taught us anything over the past 6 years, it is that they are good at spotting what is GOING to be the best, in the future, and projecting it to the present.

            • RedMan

              All it takes is one injury and the Oilers season is down the toilet AGAIN!

              On another note: No Offer Sheet will be made to Justin Schultz – bummer isn’t it Oil fans?

            • piscera.infada

              Generally, when heaving insults at another person, one should avoid spelling and grammatical errors. If not, you just come across as a much bigger tool.

            • OILFANMEXICO

              LOL “McHamilton day”,(I wanted to take a pot shot at you on your home turf) very ORIGINAL bud, maybe stop trolling at OilersNation and come up with your own slogans in stead of rippin’ off writers articles. I’ll say it again, McDavid will make Hamilton look like a PYLON next season. See you over at Oilers nation Walty, getting your ass kicked again! “Have a happy MCDAVID day all” 😉

            • Burnward

              “Remember its never a good idea to go “full retard”.”

              You just insulted all the mentally challenged people in Edmonton, of which you are one by calling them by a term that is insulting and no longer appropriate.

            • RedMan

              we’ve come to expect oiler fans to use outdated, currently unacceptable terms that demean those with cognitive disabilities, along with homophobic terms, as pejoratives…

              kinda speaks to the state of the union among Edmonton fans (at least the ones that troll here).

              What a sad lot – instead of funny, witty or smart smack, it “retard” and homophobic stuff… what a pathetic lot. please Oiler fans – up your game – be funny and smart and witty, not so jr. high locker room. Try to add something with your trash talk besides all the evidence of your own limited intelligence.

            • RedMan

              we’ve come to expect oiler fans to use outdated, currently unacceptable terms that demean those with cognitive disabilities, along with homophobic terms, as pejoratives…

              kinda speaks to the state of the union among Edmonton fans (at least the ones that troll here).

              What a sad lot – instead of funny, witty or smart smack, it “retard” and homophobic stuff… what a pathetic lot. please Oiler fans – up your game – be funny and smart and witty, not so jr. high locker room. Try to add something with your trash talk besides all the evidence of your own limited intelligence.

            • RedMan

              we’ve come to expect oiler fans to use outdated, currently unacceptable terms that demean those with cognitive disabilities, along with homophobic terms, as pejoratives…

              kinda speaks to the state of the union among Edmonton fans (at least the ones that troll here).

              What a sad lot – instead of funny, witty or smart smack, it “retard” and homophobic stuff… what a pathetic lot. please Oiler fans – up your game – be funny and smart and witty, not so jr. high locker room. Try to add something with your trash talk besides all the evidence of your own limited intelligence.

            • Tomas Oppolzer

              Holy hell, that’s just rude. I understand trolling WW, he’s always starting stuff, but come on. Have a little class for Christ sake. All Baalzamon pointed out were hard, indisputable facts about two minor league players.

    • Greg

      Good analysis, is bet you are bang on with most of those not qualified due to arbitration rights and current salary amount. Could see Reinhardt though just cause he’s cheap and wouldn’t have much of a leg to stand on in a hearing anyway.

      I could also see Byron not getting qualified for the same reason he wasn’t last year. I hope he is though!

    • The GREAT Walter White

      F Bryce van Brabant: $971,000 qualifying offer:

      Another of those over-rated college UFAs…but he is a big LW – could use him if Ferland gets injurd.

    • RedMan

      Oiler Dynasty: Is just pulling A WW. WW likes to visit oiler nation.

      OD: you do not need to go to WW level.

      There was a discussion of an offer sheet on Hamilton. Before the trade at the draft.

      I looked at his Performance versus Pacific teams not named CGY, EDm, ARZ and the central.

      Versus the central 16gm +3
      CGY will play 20 gm +4

      Versus the Pacific other than ARZ EDM
      12gm -6
      20gm -10 ??????????

      I suspect he faces 2nd comp this year.

    • SmellOfVictory

      On Dougie Hams: I believe his QA does have to be 1-way. Although he didn’t quite hit 180 games (178), he only missed games due to injury over that timespan, and one of those seasons was the 48 game lockout season.

    • CanadianManiac3

      Dougie Hamilton, Lance Bouma, Drew Shore, Josh Jooris, Micheal Ferland, David Wolf, Bill Arnold. Those are the guys who I assume will be gettings offers and possibly Byron as well.