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Difference between UFA and RFA

Difference between UFA and RFA

When an athlete becomes a free agent, it can be a time of celebration or uncertainty. For unrestricted free agents (UFA), they have the opportunity to negotiate with any team that is interested in signing them. However, when a player is classified as a restricted free agent (RFA), their current team has the right to match any offer from another team or receive draft picks as compensation if they choose not to match. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the difference between UFAs and RFAs, and what factors contribute to which players are eligible for each designation.

What is UFA?

In the National Hockey League (NHL), unrestricted free agency (UFA) is a status that a player can achieve at a certain point in their career. After completing their entry-level contracts, players become restricted free agents (RFA), giving them some freedom to sign with another team. However, they are still bound by certain rules and regulations. Once a player becomes a UFA, they are free to sign with any team, without restriction. This typically happens when a player is 27 years of age or older, or has completed seven seasons in the NHL. UFAs can sign contracts of any length and value and are not subject to match offers from other teams. As a result, UFAs are highly sought-after commodities in the NHL, and can often command large salaries on the open market.

What is RFA?

RFA stands for Restricted Free Agent. In the National Hockey League (NHL), a restricted free agent is a player who is free to sign with any team, but whose current team has the right to match any offer sheet the player signs and retain him. A restricted free agent can also sign a new contract with his current team without any restrictions. In order to become an unrestricted free agent, a player must have completed four professional seasons, or have been 26 years old or older at the start of their fourth season. RFA status can also be acquired if a player’s previous professional contract expired and he was not eligible for salary arbitration. RFA’s are often signed to “bridge contracts” in order to allow a team more time to evaluate the player and his potential before committing to a long-term deal. For more information on RFAs and NHL contracts, please consult an experienced hockey lawyer.

Difference between UFA and RFA

UFAs are free to sign with any team starting on July 1st, while RFAs can only sign offer sheets with other teams, which their current team has the right to match. UFAs are usually older players who have at least 4 years of service time, while RFAs are typically younger and have fewer than 4 years of service time. RFAs are also subject to a qualifying offer from their team, which is a one-year contract worth the average salary of the top 125 players in the league. If the RFA does not sign the qualifying offer, they become a UFA. Qualifying offers must be made by June 30th and can be worth up to 5% more than the previous year’s salary. UFAs can sign for any amount, while RFAs can only sign for the amount specified in their qualifying offer.


The main difference between a UFA and RFA is the level of control that the team has over the player. A UFA can sign with any team, while an RFA can only be signed by the team that they played for in their previous season. RFAs are also entitled to a qualifying offer, which is a contract offered by the original team that gives them draft pick compensation if they sign with another team. This process helps ensure that teams don’t lose all their best players to other teams without getting anything in return.

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