Tom Wilson’s Qualifying Offer Set to Expire at 5 PM: What Does That Mean?

Photo: The Hockey News

Restricted free agents who have not accepted their qualifying offer by 5 PM on Sunday will see that offer expire. However, teams do not lose their RFA’s rights to those players declining initial offers.

What does this mean for Tom Wilson? The Capitals likely submitted a minimum, or relatively low offer at first, just to make the deadline to submit a qualifying offer to their restricted free agent. Tom Wilson’s next contract value will very likely be far more than the minimum qualifying offer requirements.

The Capitals’ management and their remaining restricted free agents are most likely still negotiating, and a contract will be signed once the two sides agree on final value and term.

Qualifying Offers

If a team wishes to retain players with expiring contracts, who are set to become restricted free agents, they must extend a “qualifying offer” to the player by 5:00 PM on June 25th.

Qualifying offers must meet minimum value requirements. This year a qualifying offer must be 110% of last season’s salary cap value for the player, if the player’s prior season’s salary was $660,000. The qualifying offer must be 105% of last season’s value if last season’s salary was between $660,000 and $1.000,000. The offer must be a minimum of 100% of last season’s value if the player’s prior salary was above $1.000,000.

If the team does not extend a qualifying offer to the RFA player, that player would become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Teams can continue to negotiate with that player, and potentially sign the player after the qualifying offer deadline (Devante Smith-Pelly was not extended a qualifying offer but re-signed with the Capitals prior to the July 1, free agency deadline). The deadline to extend a qualifying offer this past year was June 25 at 5 PM, six days before free agency started.

Restricted Free Agents

The Capitals have two remaining restricted free agents: forward Tom Wilson, who scored 14 goals and 35 points in 78 games in 2017-18, and defenseman Madison Bowey, who tallied 10 assists in 51 games in 2017-18.

Capitals’ forward Liam O’Brien was the only Capital out of 44 NHL players to file for salary arbitration, but the two sides agreed to a one-year contract worth $650,000 before then.

Other notable names in the NHL who filed for arbitration this year (who have not agreed on a contract yet) include Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson, Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba, and Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker. Arbitration hearings will be held from July 20-August 4. Nine of the 44 who filed on July 5 at 5 PM, the deadline to file for salary arbitration, have already signed or agreed to terms on a new contract.

Wilson elected not to file for arbitration, while Bowey was not eligible to file.

From Our NHL Free Agency 101:


Restricted free agents are defined as a player who is not considered entry-level, but does not meet the requirements to become an unrestricted free agent. Restricted free agents’ negotiating rights are owned by their current team and cannot negotiate with other teams. For more on what a restricted free agent is, click here.


Under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), teams can offer any of their pending unrestricted free agents a maximum contract length of EIGHT years. Prior to the current CBA, teams were free to sign players to massive, big-money contracts (such as Alex Ovechkin’s 13-year, $124 million contract signed in 2008). Outside teams are limited to a maximum length of seven years.


A qualifying offer is a one-year contract that teams can offer to their RFAs. Teams can begin negotiating with RFAs the day after the NHL Entry Draft, which is also the deadline for making a qualifying offer. A player has the option of accepting or declining the offer. The qualifying offer’s salary amount depends on the player’s salary for the previous year. Here are the criteria for teams a qualifying offer:

  • Players who earned less than $660,000 must be offered 110% of their previous salary. A player making up to $1 million must be offered 105%. Any player making over $1 million must be offered $100%.
  • If a team does not extend a qualifying offer to a player, that player becomes an unrestricted free agent.
  • If a player rejects the offer, the player remains a restricted free agent.
  • If the two sides are unable to reach an agreement before December 1, the player is not eligible to play for his team for the rest of the season.


If a player has rejected a qualifying offer or not yet signed, he is eligible to sign an offer sheet. An offer sheet is a contract offered by another team to the restricted free agent. If a player signs the offer sheet, that player has seven days to match the offer or the player will go to the team that made the offer, with compensation going to his former team.


If a player and his team are unable to come to an agreement on a new contract, one or both can file for salary arbitration, in which an arbiter hears both sides. The team can only take a player to arbitration once in his career. Players can request arbitration as many times as they please. In arbitration, both the player and team submit their own expected salaries for the player. The arbiter hears both sides and makes a decision on the player’s salary for the upcoming season. The team must make a decision within 48 hours on whether to accept or decline the decision:

  • if a team accepts, the player returns on a one-year contract
  • If a team declines, the player automatically becomes an unrestricted free agent

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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5 Responses to Tom Wilson’s Qualifying Offer Set to Expire at 5 PM: What Does That Mean?

  1. J says:

    Good to know Caps dont lose the rights after 5pm, so they can continue and hopefully finish this contract

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