What is a bridge deal in hockey? with examples

The skater’s bridge agreement is among the many deals that clubs sign with one another. The new skater is given less money because of the limited team contract. It lasts for one or two seasons. The skaters can increase their earnings on their resources after agreeing to the bridge deal.

What is a bridge deal in the NHL? Hockey skaters sign their first deal as limited free agents with a short duration of 2-3 years. It ends as part of a bridge deal. As opposed to when they become unrestricted free agents, the skater is still a constrained free agent. By paying the skaters less and getting better outcomes from them, this contract benefits both the skaters’ professions and the squad.

Let’s move on to get more information about bridge deals in the NHL.

What is a hockey bridge contract?

What is a hockey bridge contract? A limited free player in hockey who takes a bridge agreement has a short-term deal that usually lasts 2 to 3 seasons. It expires while they are still restriction-free agents rather than when they turn unrestricted free agents.

The player agrees to a bridge agreement so they can gamble to enhance their results and maintain their health. The majority of players join the NHL via a bridge agreement contract because it benefits them.

What is a hockey bridge contract

The fact that the squad will focus on the player whether they are in the first or second pair is an advantage to the squad in this arrangement. 

The club shouldn’t spend additional time verifying this. It is because it will affect their wage structure if the skater is a second partner. So, it is not necessary to compensate him the same as the first pairing skater.

The Problem: 4 Years after Entry Level Contract ends and UFA starts

A bridge agreement specifically addresses the 4 years of limited free agency. It occurs between the completion of a game’s original 3-year Entry Level Agreement and the seven-year limit. In this agreement, they are eligible to become unrestricted free agents.

4 Years after Entry Level Contract ends and UFA starts

The NHL entry selection is how the majority of players join the league. For the first seven years of your NHL tenure, or until you turn 27, whatever happens first, the squad you were chosen for will own your privileges. A club that holds your services effectively controls your mobility within the NHL. It is the only side that has access to you at that duration.

Let’s take a closer look at a Skater’s Entry Level Contract, Unlimited Free Agent, and Limited Free Agent phases.

Entry Level Contract

An Entry Level Contract (ELC) is the first agreement they signed. There are many pay categories eligible for entry-level agreements, but it Is most necessary to keep in mind that an ELC is only valid for 3 years.

Entry Level Contract

Unrestricted Free Agent

A skater can qualify as an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) in a few diverse situations. This will give them the freedom to deal with any club they want. For the many parts, they have 7 years to contract with the club that selected them.

The most crucial fact to keep in mind for this is that there is a 4-year delay between the completion of the ELC and a free agent without restrictions.

Restricted Free Agent

Restricted free agent position refers to the four-year transition period between the ELC and UFA. Although you can contract with another squad, the squad that has your rights will always be able to reject any deal. Then you are essentially their asset.

What sort of agreement are you permitted to accept for the four years between your ELC and turning into a UFA?

Potential Agreements after Entry Level is Complete:

  • One-year agreement
  • Agreement for a term of fewer than 4 years.
  • Sign for 4 years to become a UFA 
  • Get those UFA by signing between 5 and 8 years

The two agreements that are most significant for this are those that are 2 or 3 years long or those that are 5 to 8 years long. They take a skater over the beginning of their UFA era by “purchasing” UFA seasons.

Both the skater and administration must consider a variety of criteria before deciding on the sort of deal to agree on. It includes the club player salaries status, anticipated player growth, passing up UFA years, and overspending or undercharging.

Let’s examine a few of these elements from both viewpoints.

Factors for management in deciding on a bridge contract

When determining the duration and scope of the agreement, managers need to consider a variety of various criteria, including

  • What is the status of their pay cap?
  • How much can this skater improve? 
  • Will they see a rise in output or a decline?
  • What role does this player currently perform on the squad?
  • Should I lock up this skater for the near term while I can?
  • Do I want to extend the player’s contract past the UFA seasons, which would raise the price of the deal?


You should sign a player for as much as you can if you feel they will excel and you can pay them within the wage structure. The team will spend more but the agreement will be worth it in the long run. 

In this way, a long-term deal would take them over the wage increase. So, some clubs are compelled to sign skaters for short to medium-term deals.

Clubs who don’t want to make long-term commitments but regard them as contributing can consider a bridge agreement.

Factors for players in signing a bridge contract

The player will consider a variety of additional criteria that are given below: 

  • Do I sign a long-term deal to get assured money?
  • Will it take me longer to become a free agent if I take a long-term deal?
  • Should I sign a limited agreement with the expectation that the output will rise? Also, it must allow me to accept a longer and more profitable agreement.
  • After my limited free agent seasons, would I prefer to stay with this corporation?
  • If the club is dealing with a limited cap scenario, am I willing to accept less money to remain here?


The majority of skaters will accept a long-term agreement if they can. Who wouldn’t want a million-dollar deal that is assured to last for six to eight years? 

A bridge agreement is the best option for skaters who want to wager on themselves. They can request a really large wage if they can raise their contribution to the team during those two years.

Examples of Bridge Contracts

For 3 of his final 4 contracted seasons, Matthew Tkachuk of the Flames agreed on a bridge agreement.

The agreement was set up as follows:

YearBase Salary Signing Bonus AAV Yearly Cash


The incredible aspect of this agreement is that it rises to $9 million in his last season. It means the Flames will have to give him $9 million in that final season to keep him.

The Philadelphia Flyers’ Travis Sanheim signed a two-year bridge deal for $3.25 million annually. After this, he will still have two more years as a limited free agent before turning into a UFA.

Sanheim had just completed an entry-level contract with a very solid 35 points in 82 matches. Intriguingly, he chose a two-year agreement. But he does not now have the same level of popularity and reputation as other skaters who were contracting at the same period.

Conclusion: what is a bridge deal in the NHL?

This was all about what is a bridge deal in the NHL. New players benefit from a bridge deal because they will get training while also working hard to enhance their skills. They can then ask for a maximum budget in their consecutive agreements and sign long-term agreements.

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