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06-20-2014, 07:24 AM
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The free agency interview periods begins next Wednesday June 25

The NHL has implemented a significant change from last year regarding the free-agent interview period that begins next Wednesday.

In a memo sent yesterday to all teams and subsequently forwarded by the NHL Players’ Association to all agents, the league will now allow clubs and agents to discuss general parameters of a potential contract for a pending restricted and unrestricted free agent.

Last year if you remember, Commissioner Gary Bettman sent a last-second memo reminding clubs that they could not discuss contract parameters at all during the interview period prior to free agency, which begins this year on July 1.

In the June 18 memo (read over the phone to me by an agent), the league states, “After discussions with a number of general managers, we have revised and hopefully clarified with regard to last summer the permissible parameters of player contract and communication during the applicable interview periods.

“Please be advised that clubs are permitted to discuss the potential interest in as well as general parameters of a potential future contractual relationship with another club’s pending RFA or UFA during the applicable interview periods. The clubs may not enter any agreements or make any binding offers, promises, … oral or written concerning the terms of a potential SPC (standard players contract) with another club’s pending RFA or UFA.”

So in other words, teams and agents can now discuss the general parameters of a deal, as in, “I’ll be looking for a seven-year deal at around $5 million annually,” etc., meaning now players and agents at least know where each other is at heading into July 1 and know who’s in the game and who isn’t.

Last year, there seemed to be confusion where nobody had any idea of what could and couldn’t be discussed during the interview period. Some teams/agents apparently followed the rules, some teams didn’t, which created a conundrum that ticked off the teams that did follow the rules.

You would expect Richards to be available to speak to other teams when the interview period begins.

Richards has a no movement clause which allows him to be bought out without going on waivers. He can reject the waivers and just be bought out. On waivers,he has no control where he can wind up. In a buyout and then becoming a free agent,Richards controls where he goes. He will still get his $8M in bonus money due to him for the next 3 years plus $12M in the buyout paid out over 12 years. He was paid $33M in the first 3 years. He lost half of the $4M salary in 12-13 with the lockout. He probably got $31M of that $33M. Richards will make up the lost dollars over the next 3 years with his next contract. He will get $8M from his Rangers contract plus $3M from the buyout. That's $11. He is owed $24M over the next 3 years. He needs $13M to make the difference. Morris should get him $4M-$5M per.

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