PHF Free Agency starts May 1: what to know

The news broke earlier Wednesday morning along with a host of details related to Season Eight and beyond.

The Premier Hockey Federation is going to look pretty different this offseason and beyond.

The league released earlier Wednesday a series of changes to roster building for Season Eight, along with new standard player agreements and benefits crafted in the wake of the Board of Governors’ three-year, $25 million pledge to strengthen the PHF’s infrastructure. The agreements were made with input from the Players’ Association, according to newly named PA executive director Nicole Corriero, who called it “an exciting step forward for professional women’s hockey and these deserving athletes.”

There was a lot given in one single press release, so here’s a rundown of the main points:

There will not be an Entry Draft or an International Draft this year

What it means: All athletes who have completed post-secondary education will be eligible for unrestricted free agency, along with those having played pro previously either with the PHF, PWHPA, or overseas. This not only allows for more equity amongst both veteran and incoming new players, in hockey operations VP Lisa Haley’s words, but it should also increase the potential for healthy competition in terms of salaries and driving up contract values not just with the Fed, but throughout women’s hockey.

Any rostered players can be retained by their Season 7 teams up until April 30

What it means: We can expect a flood of re-signings to be announced in the next 10 days, as undoubtedly more than a few PHFers will elect to stay with their respective squads. Unfortunately, I think we can expect more than a few retirement announcements as well, as we enter a new chapter of the league/federation and its growth.

Two-year deals! Two-year deals! Every player has a chance to sign two-year deals!

What it means: Heightened potential for franchise players to emerge, as well as for those existing essentially as “franchise” players to solidify their roots with their chosen team. Also, not quite as much chaos in the ensuing offseasons, though it’ll be interesting to see what happens when it comes to any further growth — for instance, someone who signed a big two-year deal this season or next vs. someone who might sign a more lucrative deal down the line, or if any further changes to the salary cap emerge. Players may also be eligible for signing bonuses up to 10 percent of their full contract value.

A Salary Floor of $562,500

What it means: Teams must spent at least that much on salary, which is 75% of the new cap. The release didn’t have any information on a minimum salary for individual contracts, just a team minimum.

Comprehensive benefits — medical, dental, vision, parental leave, and player equity incentives included, plus the option to add spouse/family

What it means: I mean, it’s pretty obvious. The better the benefits are and the more secure a player (and a player’s family) feels financially, the more likely they are to stay. Thus, the benefits only increase with this equity incentive in place, meaning the longer you stay, the more you can earn.

These are all great things for both veterans and incoming rookies, as it means we have the chance to see more stability in the coming seasons. Of course, there are still some questions, the biggest one being:

What about the expansion teams?

We still have no concrete details with regard to either Montreal or [Insert Unnamed U.S. Expansion City Here], and with just 10 days to go till UFA begins it’s a bit alarming not to have those facts in place. Unless the league is going to announce both teams and rosters together, it makes me anxious — just a bit — that not all of the Board of Governors’ goals are going to be met before the puck drops this fall. Still, a lot can happen in 10 days, so we’ll definitely stay glued to the headlines leading up to May 1.

For the full press release, click the link in the embedded tweet above or visit here.