Marc-Andre Bourdon and Jakub Voracek (pictured above) are just two of the seven restricted free agents on the Flyers roster this offseason. | (December 12, 2011 – Source: Greg Fiume/Getty Images North America)
I thought it may be handy if I quickly and simply explained how things work regarding restricted free agents. I’ll explain who they are and how the process works of either retaining or forfeiting their rights.
The two areas focused on are age and professional experience, the latter being based on the number of games played (and also on age). It’s not easily to understand at first, so take a look at the chart below and I’ll explain.
Group 2 players (as they are known) are players with RFA expiry statuses. The way this is calculated is first by looking at a player’s age. “Age” for the purposes of the CBA is calculated by determining the player’s age on September 15 of the year in which their first contract is signed. Therefore, a player born July 26, 1993 who signs their first contract in 2012 is 19. A player born on October 29, 1992 who signs their first contract in 2012 is also 19.
Next, the league looks at their experience. For any player 18 or 19 years old, they complete a season after playing in 10 or more NHL games in a season. For any player 20 years old or older, a season is completed after just 1 professional game is played. “Professional” for the sake of this argument is games played in the NHL, AHL, or Europe. [Any player 25 or older automatically qualifies for a UFA status. That’s why a guy like Matt Read has a one-way contract with a UFA expiry status.]
Now that you understand who qualifies as an RFA, let’s look at who those individuals are for the Flyers.
The Flyers have seven RFAs: Jakub Voracek, Marc-Andre Bourdon, Harry Zolnierczyk, Tom Sestito, Ben Holmstrom, Mike Testwuide, and Andrew Rowe. In order to keep these players, the Flyers must have sent them all a qualifying offer by 5:00 New York time on either June 25 or the first Monday after the NHL draft, whichever is later. Conveniently enough, this season June 25 was the first Monday after the draft.
As Randy Miller reported, all seven Flyers RFAs were given qualifying offers, so we shall proceed with the process from here. I’ll explain what were to happen if they were not given the qualifying offer later in the post.
Qualifying offers are structured as a percentage of the player’s previous salary, bonuses not included. Any player who made less than $660,000 salary in 2011-12 will receive a qualifying offer of 110% of their previous salary. A player making between $660,000 and $1,000,000 in 2011-12 will receive a qualifying offer of 105% of their previous salary. Any player making over $1,000,000 will receive a qualifying offer of 100% of their previous salary. For the Flyers, the qualifying offers are as follows:
Jakub Voracek – $2,250,000 ($2,250,000 in 2011-12)
Harry Zolnierczyk – $813,750 ($775,000 in 2011-12)
Tom Sestito – $605,000 ($550,000 in 2011-12)
Marc-Andre Bourdon – $800,625 ($762,500 in 2011-12)
Mike Testwuide – $704,000 ($640,000 in 2011-12)
Andrew Rowe – $945,000 ($900,000 in 2011-12)
Ben Holmstrom – $687,500 ($625,000 in 2011-12)
All qualifying offers must be two-way deals unless the player has played in at least 180 games in the last three seasons combined, played at least 60 games in the 2011-12 season, and hasn’t cleared waivers within the last 12 days of the season. In the Flyers’ case, only Jakub Voracek fulfills those qualifications.
Since the Flyers haven’t filed for arbitration with any of their RFAs (and none of the RFAs filed for arbitration with the Flyers), the team has what is called a Right of First Refusal. [If arbitration were filed by either party, no other team could submit an offer sheet to the player.]
If any team were to send an offer sheet to any of the Flyers RFAs (which, by the way, would have to be signed by both the proposing team and the player—teams can’t just throw offer sheets out of the blue), the Flyers would have a week to either match the offer or allow the player to leave. Matching the offer would be the process of the team exercising their Right of First Refusal.
If the team matches the offer, the player cannot be traded for one year from the date on which they signed. Naturally, the terms of the original offer become the terms of the contract.
If the team decides to let the player leave, the Flyers would receive compensatory draft picks for the 2013-14 draft based on the salary being paid to the player by the new team. Draft pick compensation for the 2012-13 season is as follows:
However, since offer sheets are a rare thing (there are none this season), it isn’t a concern for the Flyers. If, however, a team fails to submit a qualifying offer and fails to elect salary arbitration, the player becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Qualifying offers are not able to be accepted until July 1. They are only valid until July 15, unless the team decides to file an extension with the League.
In sum, all 7 Flyers RFAs have been given a qualifying offer, granting the team a Right of First Refusal should any other team sign an offer sheet with any of those players. Those qualifying offers are good until July 15 and can’t be accepted until July 1. If an offer sheet were to be offered, the Flyers can match those terms. If not, they can forfeit the player, receiving compensatory draft picks based upon the player’s new salary.