With a new CBA extension in place, and the 2019-2020 NHL season about to resume, there are special rules for contracts.


June 30 is the normal expiration for NHL contracts and July 1 is when they roll into the new year. Players due to receive signing bonuses on July 1 got them because the NHL and NHLPA couldn’t get this deal done in time to prevent that. But now all contacts set to expire on June 30 are extended until the day before Free Agency.

Free Agency will be the later of October 9 or six days after the Stanley Cup Final.

Players whose expiring contract is on one of the seven teams not playing in the playoffs or who opted out of the playoffs can sign European contracts for 2020-2021 one week from the ratification of the deal. Once a team is eliminated from the playoffs, those players can also sign outside North America after two days. Players who opt out and sign to play elsewhere in 2020-2021 are not allowed to play in the NHL in that season.

Contract extensions and new contracts can be signed starting three days after the agreement, so Monday, July 13 at noon (assuming the effective date of the agreement is considered Friday, July 10). This doesn’t mean free agency has come early. These contracts are for the following only:

  • Unsigned Draft Choices
  • Draft-Related Unrestricted Free Agents
  • Unrestricted Free Agents
  • Restricted Free Agents/

Included are extensions for the last two types, not new contracts on new clubs. Don’t expect a flood of signings of European UFAs. Most of those players are under contract for next season in Europe and are now past the IIHF deadline to sign in North America instead.

Players can also start signing extensions for 2021-2022. On the Leafs that includes Zach Hyman and Frederik Andersen.


Because the completion of this NHL season could overlap the start of European and some North American 2020-2021 seasons, there are new rules for loaning players with an NHL contract to other teams.

Loans may commence as normal as of July 1. There is a special provision to suspend waivers for players who require them for the period before the next NHL season starts up. For example: If the Leafs want to send Jeremy Bracco to the AHL when it begins, they don’t need to put him through waivers as long as he returns to the NHL roster when the NHL season starts up. If he doesn’t, they need to use waivers at that time.

Post Season Dates

There are always two buy-out periods in an offseason. This year, the first on is the later of September 25 or the beginning of the Stanley Cup Final. So while play is ongoing. (You can’t buyout a player who is still on an active roster.) This period ends on October 8 or six days after the Stanley Cup Final.

Teams can have a second buy-out window if they or a player elect arbitration. That period is set for right after each team’s arbitration cases are settled. Arbitration is shoehorned in to the short offseason, and will all be finished before training camp begins for next season.

There are two unique features to this offseason, one temporary to this year:

For 2020, in the event a Club exercises their Walk-Away Right (pursuant to Section 12.10 of the CBA) relating to a one-year Salary Arbitration award, the Player may within four (4) days of receipt of notice from the Club that they are exercising their Walk-Away Right, elect to enter into an SPC with the Club on the same terms as the Club had offered in the Club’s Salary Arbitration Brief.

and one permanent in the new CBA:

A Salary Arbitration matter may not be settled after the hearing has commenced.

Qualifying Offers for RFAs are due October 6 or four days following the last game a team plays. RFAs can accept the offer starting on the later of October 9 or seven days after the Stanley Cup Final. RFAs who don’t receive a qualifying offer become UFAs when free agency begins.

The Leafs have the follow expiring RFAs with arbitration rights:

  • Denis Malgin
  • Frederik Gauthier
  • Ilya Mikheyev
  • Max Veronneau
  • Pontus Aberg
  • Teemu Kivihalme/

And without arbitration rights:

  • Travis Dermott
  • Jeremy Bracco/

If the AHL manages to start on something close to a normal schedule, their season will begin before the salary arbitration hearings can be scheduled, and many AHLers could still be negotiating their contracts.

We’ll have more on how this offseason will work when we are closer to that actual event. But for now, expect to see players signed to extension in the weeks leading up to the playoffs while teams have time on their hands.