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NWHL Announces Free Agency Period

Brianna Decker (Credit: NWHL)

Brianna Decker (Credit: NWHL)


The National Women’s Hockey League announced on Friday that the teams have the month of April to resign their restricted free agents and get a commitment from their 2015 draft choices.

On May 1st, any restricted free agents and draft selections, that have not been signed by their respected clubs are free to sign with one of the other organizations in the league. Commissioner Dani Rylan said, “Restricted free agency gives players and draft selections an opportunity to secure a spot with their club without having to enter into free agency. 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 have been scouting around the world.”

All of the contracts signed during both the restricted free agency period and free agency period will be one year deals. In addition to the restricted free agency period, the league has also introduced a new Draft Tax. The Draft Tax will only affect the clubs that sign another team’s draft pick.

Updates to the NWHL bylaws will deal with the draft. The member club that drafts a player retains the exclusive rights to said player, but must abide by National Collegiate Athletic Association and Canadian Interuniversity Sport rules, ensuring that the player may be able to 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 a player decides to return to college for a fifth year, the club that drafted them retains the exclusive rights through the free agency period following her final collegiate year.

If a player decides to sign with another club, that club will forfeit between 1,000 and 5,000 of their salary cap to the club that drafted the player. The amount a team forfeits depends on which round the player was selected in.

The restricted free agency period runs from April 1 through April 31 for teams to sign their free agents and draft picks. Full free agency period will then begin on May 1 lasting through July 31, with the 2016 Junior Draft scheduled for June 18.

The NWHL became the first professional women’s hockey league in North America to pay its players, when they began their inaugural season on October 11, 2015. Its four founding members; Boston Pride, New York Riveters, Buffalo Beauts and Connecticut Whale, battled throughout the season, for the chance to win the Isobel Cup.

The Pride became the first ever Isobel Cup Champions on March 12, when they defeated the Beauts at Barnabas Health Hockey House in Newark, New Jersey.

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