How a Franchise Tag system could fix the NHL’s RFA problem

Vince Dunn #29 of the St. Louis Blues. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Vince Dunn #29 of the St. Louis Blues. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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Carter Hart (79)
Carter Hart #79 of the Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

How a Franchise Tag Fixes These Issues

To fix any of these problems, the current RFA rules need to be adjusted. There’s no possible way to improve the relevance and excitement level of the NHL while players’ rights are owned till they are 26 or 27. To fix this, I propose an Entry-Level plus two system. Meaning that at 18, your rights as a player are owned by your team till you are 23-years-old or have played in five seasons.

This gives teams two extra years after Entry-Level to figure out some of their prospects before their rights expire. After which, upon expiry of the fifth year, the player in question would be a Free Agent. No slide rule, two years of RFA, that’s it, that’s all. Following those five seasons, one franchise tag per summer will be given to each team wherein their rights can be retained by the club following the NFL model for non-exclusive franchise tags:

"The non-exclusive tag is calculated by adding the franchise tag cost together from the five previous seasons and dividing it by the sum of the salary caps from the five previous seasons to get a percentage-of-cap number that is then multiplied by that year’s cap.  They can be withdrawn at any time by the club if the player hasn’t signed it. This is what happened with Josh Norman in 2016. The team and player have until July 16 to work out a multi-year deal, otherwise the one-year contract is the only option. Players can be tagged for a second year in a row, though this always results in a 20% raise since 120% of their salary from the year before would be more than the franchise tag number. They can be tagged for a third year in a row, too, but get either the quarterbacks’ franchise tag number or a 44% raise, whichever is greater. Quarterbacks tagged a third time in a row have to settle for a 44% raise. Players can not be tagged by their respective teams more than 3 seasons in a row. Players don’t have to sign their tags, but if they don’t, they can’t play. If they don’t sign their tender after 10 weeks of the season, they can’t show up for the rest of the season and then can be tagged again the following year. Teams that use the non-exclusive franchise tag hold the right of first refusal. If a designated player signs an offer sheet with another team, the player’s previous team has five days to match the offer sheet. Should it decide not to, the player’s original team shall be entitled to draft-choice compensation equivalent to two first-round picks. Seth Walder, New York Daily News"

Now, with these changes, teams have more players to choose from in Free Agency, and rebuilding teams can add younger players to help said rebuild. Players now have more choice in where they go, while certain star players can still be retained by their home club. Finally, the league and it’s fanbase can use the larger amount of player movement to generate more interest in the NHL product.

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It may not be a perfect solution as most players in the NFL don’t like the lack of financial stability that comes with being given a franchise tag. However, I think this can massively improve the appeal of the NHL and gives fans, players, and management groups enough to make it worth any potential road blocks. Do you think the NHL should adopt a franchise tag system? Let us know in the comments!