Islanders Bits: Hawks win Stanley Cup; Qualifying offers out; Buyout season looms

Hoping their negotiations won't be so hostile. - Jim McIsaac

Sure, some team won a Cup last night and they can party. But now the cycle starts anew.

The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last night (igniting World War Z in Chicago) with a stunning final-minutes turnaround in a 17-second span that included the latest Cup-clincher (outside of OT) in history. Winning his second Cup along with several teammates, captain Jonathan Toews first passed the Cup to old farts Michal Handzus, Jamal Mayerss and Michal Rozsival. Which is pretty cool unless you're heartless and dull.

Then the injury news began to come out, and there were some biggies: Patrice Bergeron played with a broken rib and torn cartilage from Game 5 (thankfully it wasn't another concussion) and then suffered a separated shoulder in Game 6. Marian Hossa dealt with a pinched nerve from his back injury that caused a numb foot. Jaromir Jagr tried to play through something that looked like a leg injury last night. The list goes on and will grow throughout today.

Anyway, outside of reminding us why we watch this beautiful and torturous sport, last night's ending signaled something else for the rest of us: The true beginning of the offseason.

Qualifying Offers

Offseason business got off to a formal start with the leak of qualifying offers to restricted (Group II) free agents, including from the Islanders to Josh Bailey, Travis Hamonic, Thomas Hickey, Kevin Poulin, David Ullstrom (who has already signed in the KHL) and Brett Gallant, according to Arthur Staple of Newsday. All of those were expected, though Gallant may have been off your radar.

According to the CBA, qualifying offers are due "no later than 5:00 p.m. New York time on the later of June 25 or the first Monday after the Entry Draft of the final year of the Player's SPC." But this year's lockout-induced compressed schedule changes things a bit. For 2012-13, qualifying offers are due by July 2 and cannot be accepted until July 5 according to page 358, Exhibit 16-B in the new CBA. similarly, this year's free agency period begins on July 5, though teams can talk to players beginning on July 1.

For most players, especially Hamonic, Bailey and probably Hickey too, these Q.O.'s are just to ensure the Isles retain the rights, and the rights to match RFA offer sheets, for these players in July. For Ullström, it's to ensure they keep his rights in case they want to sign him back from Europe in the future.

EDIT: As a note on Ullström and others who have signed in Europe: It is believed that once qualified, as long as the player remains in Europe he does not need to be requalified to retain his rights. So the rights to Euro-based players qualified last year like Mikko Koskinen should remain.

Finally, since many will wonder:

A Club's Qualifying Offer must be a One-Way Qualifying Offer if the applicable Player has: (A) actually played (excluding games missed for injury, illness or disability) 180 or more NHL Games in the previous three (3) NHL Seasons, (B) played at least sixty (60) NHL Games in the previous NHL Season, and (C) not cleared Waivers in the period between the 12th day prior to the commencement of the previous Regular Season and the end of a Club's previous Playing Season. For purposes hereof only, a goaltender is deemed to have played an NHL Game when he was dressed and on the bench as a backup. In all other cases, a Qualifying Offer may be a Two-Way Qualifying Offer.

Among other things, this would help you understand why Ullstrom could receive a two-way offer, but Hamonic and Bailey could not. The more you know. (And then look up. Again. And again. And again.)

Buyouts

As a reminder, players under age 26 who receive buyouts get one-third of the compensation remaining on their contract over twice the remaining term. Players age 26 and over get two-thirds of the compensation remaining.

For 2012-13, the first buyout period begins 48 hours after conclusion of the Stanley Cup final. But as we saw with Danny Briere last week, that doesn't mean teams can't signal their intentions before then. This first buyout period ends on July 4 at 5 p.m. New York time (some call that Eastern, but New York is New York, right?).

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