As the NHL and NHLPA continue to work through the remaining steps to starting the 2020-21 NHL season, more details are starting to to be known.
The latest round of information is centered on key dates for the season, including player opt-outs and signing deadlines for restricted free agents.
According to Elliotte Friedman, the deadline for players to opt-out of the season is December 24 for the seven teams that did not qualify for the 2019-20 season restart, and December 27 for teams that did qualify. Those dates work out to seven days prior to the start of training camp (the non-playoff teams are slated to starting training camp first).
Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask opted out once the season resumed due to a family emergency.
The other important date to watch could be the RFA signing deadline.
In normal years, RFA’s that do not sign by December 1 are no longer eligible to play in that season. This year that deadline has been set at February 11. Also, players that are signed to one-year contracts are eligible to sign new contract extensions on March 12. That date is usually January 1.
There are still several significant restricted free agents that remain unsigned, including Pierre-Luc Dubois (Columbus Blue Jackets), Mathew Barzal (New York Islanders), Anthony Cirelli (Tampa Bay Lightning), Dylan Strome (Chicago Blackhawks), and Mackenzie Blackwood (New Jersey Devils).
That deadline is almost never an issue (or even close to being an issue) as most RFA’s typically re-sign long before that date. While the Lightning still have some work to do to clear salary cap space to re-sign Cirelli, the Blue Jackets and Islanders both anticipate having their players signed before the start of the season.