New York, NY — The National Women’s Hockey League has announced a restricted free agency period during the month of April, during which time players can choose to resign with their former organization and 2015 draft selections can commit to the club which drafted them. On May 1, restricted free agents who have not signed contracts and draft picks who did not sign with the team which drafted them become free agents and can sign with any organization in the league.
“Restricted free agency gives players and draft selections an opportunity to secure a spot with their club without having to enter into free agency,” said Commissioner Dani Rylan. “Once May 1 hits, free agency opens the door not just to players wishing to move, but to the depth of talent graduating from college and the players we’ve been scouting around the world.”
All contracts signed during restricted free agency and free agency will be one-year contracts.
In addition to restricted free agency, the league has also announced a new Draft Tax. The Draft Tax will affect clubs who sign other team’s draft selections. Below are updates to the NWHL bylaws.
The member club which drafts a player retains exclusive rights to the player, but must abide by NCAA and CIS rules (if applicable) to ensure the player can continue their collegiate career. Once drafted, a player must complete their degree and continue playing to the same level of commitment as when drafted. If the player returns to college for a fifth year, the club that drafted them retains the exclusive rights to that player through the free agency period following her final year of college. If player decides to sign with another club, that club will forfeit between $1,000 – $5,000 of their salary cap to the club that drafted the player. $1,000 for 5th round picks, $2,000 for 4th round picks, $3,000 for 3rd round picks, $4,000 for 2nd round picks, $5,000 for 1st round picks.
Restricted free agency begins April 1 and lasts until April 30. Free agency begins May 1 and lasts until July 31. The 2016 Junior Draft is June 18.
About the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL)
The NWHL is the first professional women’s hockey league in North America to pay its players. The inaugural season began October 11, 2015 with the Founding Four: Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale and New York Riveters. The Boston Pride became the first team in NWHL history to raise the Isobel Cup on March 12, 2016.