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Fear the FAQ: 2017 Free Agency Edition

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All of the basics on hockey’s silly season.

NHL Stanley Cup Final - Media Day Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Editor’s Note: The NHL offseason is shortly set to kick into high gear, so we’ve made a guide to the Free Agency period, and attempted to answer all of the important questions.

When does NHL Free Agency begin?

Teams can officially sign players starting tomorrow (July 1) at 9:00 AM PST (12:00 PM EST). Unrestricted free agents (UFAs) have been speaking with teams since June 25, and restricted free agents (RFAs) have been allowed to do the same since June 26.

Are there any Sharks franchise legends set to become UFAs?

Yes, the two longest-tenured players in franchise history, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, are set to test the waters tomorrow.

Bad Shark-puns aside, there’s no chance they leave, right?

I’m telling you there’s a chance. It’s been reported that Thornton’s first preference is to stay in San Jose, but his future with the team may depend on Marleau’s. I’m still in the “I’ll believe it when I see it” camp, but there have been enough reports indicated that their departures are possible, if not likely.

What teams are interested, and how can I keep track?

We’re tracking which teams have been linked to the pair here, and we’ll be updating it as we continue to learn more. Once they do sign, in San Jose or elsewhere, we will have plenty of great coverage for you.

Some of the interested teams include the defending Western Conference champion Nashville Predators, Los Angeles Kings, and New York Rangers.

That’s handy, even if I disagree with calling your coverage “great.”

Semantics.

Well, what other Sharks are set to become UFAs?

There’s veteran enforcer Micheal Haley, and a handful of guys that spent all of last season in the AHL.

Why did you previously say RFAs “have been allowed?”

Great note-taking! Because an NHL team hasn’t signed a player to an offer sheet in nearly four-and-a-half years.

What if a team signs a restricted free agent to an offer sheet?

That player’s team will have seven days to match the offer sheet. If they don’t, then the team that elected not to match will be entitled to the following compensation, based on the average annual value of the offer sheet.

Offer Sheet Compensation

AAV Compensation
AAV Compensation
Less than $1,295,571 None
$1,295,571-$1,962,968 Third round pick
$1,962,968-$3,925,975 Second round pick
$3,925,975-$5,888,960 First and third round picks
$5,888,960-$7,851,948 First, second, and third round picks
$7,851,948-$9,814,935 Two firsts, a second, and third round picks
More than $9,814,935 Four first round picks

What if...

Glad you asked! A team cannot sign a player to an offer sheet if they don’t own their own pick required for an offer sheet in that range. The Sharks, for example, can only sign a player to an offer sheet worth less than $1,295,571, or above $9,814,935 annually, as we outlined in a piece on Leon Draisaitl.

Shameless plug. How did you know what I was going to ask?

Because I am you.

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A photorealistic representation of this FAQ.

Moving on, then. Which Sharks players are restricted free agents?

Forwards Chris Tierney, Marcus Sorensen, and Barclay Goodrow signed qualifying offers on Monday.

What are the odds that another team signs them to an offer sheet?

Lower than the odds that somebody read this piece the whole way through. That’s to say: very low.

How can I follow along?

We’ll continue to have the latest rumors, news, and analysis on everything the Sharks do during the offseason. You can also follow SB Nation’s leaguewide coverage, and a constantly updating tracker of every major free agent signing.

You can also watch the first day on television! In the United States, NHL Network will begin airing coverage at 8:00 AM PST, by simulcasting Sportsnet’s Hockey Central: Signing Season special. Beginning at 10:00 AM PST, they will air original coverage in an NHL Tonight: 2017 Free Agency Special, followed by a recap show at 3:00 PM PST, according to TV listings.

In Canada, Sportsnet’s Hockey Central: Signing Season will air on television on various Sportsnet channels from 8:00 AM-9:30 AM PST, and online from 8:00 AM-10:00 AM PST. Sportsnet will resume coverage from 1:00 PM-2:00 PM PST, following the conclusion of the Blue Jays/Red Sox game. TSN will air its six-hour Free Agent Frenzy on its own networks, as well as online at TSN.ca/live and in its TSN GO app for subscribers beginning at 8:00 AM PST.