With the 2019-20 NHL season now finally nearing its end, a pushed-back offseason is quickly approaching.
With everything changed and the NHL calendar moved back a few months, there’s new dates of importance for this year when it comes to contract buyouts, arbitration, free agency and more.
Here is a full rundown of some of those important dates in the months ahead and what those dates mean for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Sept. 25 — First player buyout period
The one key offseason date that has already come, this one shouldn’t have an effect on the Hurricanes. The player buyout period opened up Friday, but the Hurricanes don’t really have anyone to buy out (Patrick Marleau isn’t around, after all). The only real reason this would matter to the Canes is that buyouts in other places in the league will add a few players to the available free agent pool.
Oct. 4 — Deadline for first club-elected salary arbitration
The Canes’ two arbitration-eligible players are Warren Foegele and Haydn Fleury, both 24-year old restricted free agents. With both Foegele and Fleury, this date is much less important than the player-elected salary deadline the next week, as well as the deadlines for teams to submit qualifying offers and the date that qualifying offers can be accepted.
More on Fleury and Foegele later.
Oct. 6-7 — NHL entry level draft
This one is obviously important for every team in the NHL. The Hurricanes will have eight selections to make in the draft as it stands, including the 13th-overall pick in the opening round.
Whether the Canes keep all those picks or trade them away, Oct. 6-7 will obviously be big days for all Hurricanes’ fans to keep an eye on.
Oct. 7, 5 p.m. — Deadline for clubs to tender qualifying offers to RFAs
Now back to Foegele and Fleury, who are the Canes’ two RFAs. The Hurricanes will make qualifying offers to both players, but will also probably look to get deals done with them to avoid arbitration. Fleury’s qualifying offer is $892,500, while Foegele’s is $735,000.
Both Foegele and Fleury are worth well more than those offers, so this won’t be the end of the process for either. Both players have arbitration rights if they don’t like what the Canes bring to the table in an outside-arbitration settlement, so they’ll both definitely make more money than that.
Oct. 8, 5 p.m. — First player buyout period ends
Again, the Canes aren’t likely to buy anyone out, so this really doesn’t impact Carolina all that much. It will give a better picture of who all will be available in free agency, which opens the next day.
Oct. 9, 12 p.m. — NHL free agency beings
The biggest date to circle for every team in this unusual NHL offseason, free agency will kickoff on Oct. 9 at noon. The Canes will have some cap space to work with as free agency kicks off, so there will be an opportunity for the team to bolster up some key spots on the open market.
There’s no real telling what the Hurricanes’ approach to free agency will be, but there are a lot of options out there. Here’s a look at the forward market (part two here). Internally for the Canes, there’s also going to be some pieces moving around. Catch up with a breakdown of the Canes’ internal forward and goalie free agents, as well as the blue liners.
Free agency of course doesn’t only play a role at the NHL level, as lower-level teams and organizations will also be hitting the open market. With a new AHL affiliate for the Canes, here is a breakdown of what the Chicago Wolves may need from free agency.
Oct. 9, 12 p.m. — Qualifying offers open for acceptance
This is the first day Fleury and Foegele can accept their qualifying offers, though that won’t happen. Again, there’s more money for both of them through either arbitration or a deal with the Canes.
Oct. 9, 12 p.m. — No-move clause/no-trade clause for the 2020-21 season take effect
For the Hurricanes, Jordan Staal and Jake Gardiner have 2020-21 clauses. Staal’s is a no-move clause, Gardiner’s is a modified no-trade clause. Those officially go into effect on Oct. 9, though both Staal’s and Gardiner’s clauses were also in effect for 2019-20, so there’s no real meaning to this date for Carolina.
Oct. 9 — Deadline for clubs to decide if they plan to split their salary cap overage amount
Another meaningless date for the Canes, who won’t be dealing with a salary cap overage.
Oct. 10, 5 p.m. — Deadline for player-elected salary arbitration
This is an important deadline to circle for Foegele and Fleury. If either of those two players can’t come to terms on a deal with the Canes before this date, this will be their deadline to exercise their right to arbitration.
Last year the Canes came to a deal with Brock McGinn before this date (which was obviously much earlier in the year) to avoid arbitration, but did go through the process with Anton Forsberg.
There’s a lot of reason to believe that the Hurricanes will try to avoid the process altogether with both Foegele and Fleury, who have been productive on the ice for Carolina and should both get decent raises, whether it’s with an agreement directly with the Canes or through arbitration.
Oct. 10, 5 p.m. — Deadline for RFA offer sheets for players for whom clubs have elected salary arbitration
The last day a team can get an offer sheet in on a player headed for club-elected salary arbitration.
Oct. 10, 5:01 p.m., to Oct. 11, 5 p.m. — Second club-elected salary arbitration window
Not a big factor for the Canes. Foegele and Fleury will spark the arbitration process before their deadline to elect that route if they haven’t reached a deal.
Oct. 12 — Scheduling of salary arbitration hearings
If either Foegele or Fleury do go the route of arbitration, this will be the day that they, along with the Hurricanes, find out when that hearing will take place.
Oct. 18, 5 p.m. — Qualifying offers to RFAs automatically expire
Any qualifying offers will expire on Oct. 18, but that shouldn’t matter. At this point, Fleury and Foegele will have either agreed to a deal with the Canes or elected arbitration.
Oct. 20 to Nov. 8 — Salary arbitration hearings
Salary arbitration hearings could take place at any point over these couple weeks for Fleury or Foegele if the process gets that far.
Nov. 12 — Last day to exercise walk-away right
Another day that has little real impact on the Hurricanes, this is the last day that a team can walk away from a player who they no longer want after the arbitration process. If a team decides they don’t like the arbitration price of a player they do have a right to walk away.
With only two players even arbitration-eligible for the Hurricanes, Carolina would only have the option to walk away from one. However, that would be extremely, extremely unlikely. Foegele and Fleury have both produced for Carolina, both are good players with bright futures, and the Hurricanes have the cap space to meet any arbitration demands.
While technically the Canes could walk away from one of these guys after arbitration, they won’t
Nov. 12 — Last day for second buyout period
This will be the final day clubs can buyout player contracts this offseason. Again, this really doesn’t impact the Hurricanes.