What is a Bridge Deal in Hockey? Explained with Examples!

What is a Bridge Deal in Hockey

Different contracts are signed between teams, and the player’s bridge deal is one of them. It is a short team deal for only one or two years in which the new player is paid less. Once the player has signed the bridge deal, they can earn more money on their next contract.

What is a bridge deal in hockey? In hockey, a bridge deal is held with players signing their first contract as a restricted free agent with a short term (usually 2-3 years) and ends. In contrast, the player is still a restricted free agent, not upon becoming an unrestricted free agent. This deal helps players build their careers; the team will also get an advantage as they will pay the players less and get good performances from players.

Let’s move towards the bridge deal in deep so you can know more about this deal.

Benefits of a Bridge Deal

A bridge deal benefits the player as they earn less during this contract, but they can make more by betting on themselves to be part of a long-term contract.

Benefits of a Bridge Deal

The player signs a bridge deal so that they can have betting to improve their performance and remains healthy. Most players enter the NHL through a bridge deal contract as it is good for them.

A team benefit of this deal is that the team will check on the player, whether the player is in the first or second pairing. If the player is second pairing, then there is no need to pay him like the first pairing guy, and the team should not spend more time checking this as it will affect their salary cap.

Examples of Bridge Contract

Here are examples of some players who sign the bridge contract:

Travis Sanheim

Travis Sanheim
Travis Sanheim

Travis Sanheim of the Philadelphia Flyers has signed a two year bridge contract worth $3.25 million a year. In the beginning, he played very well, but after that, he was not a very competent player. He was not much recognized because he looked like he had to play only during this contract. If he looks for a long term contract to earn much more, he can play well.

Matthew Tkachuk

Matthew Tkachuk Florida Panthers
Matthew Tkachuk

He is another player who signs the bridge contract for three years. This contract increases his worth by 9 million dollars in the last year of the agreement, as the team who wants to hire him has to pay him 9 million dollars or more. In addition, the Panthers announced that they have signed Tkachuk to an eight-year contract extension worth $9.5 million per season. As a restricted free agent, he played through a three-year bridge deal with a cap hit of $7.5 million and a real salary of $9 million last season.

Accordingly, the contract was structured as follows:

YearBase SalarySigning BonusAAVYearly Cash
Matthew Tkachuk Bridge Deal Table

Factors for Players in Signing a Bridge Contract

Factors for Players in Signing a Bridge Contract

Here are some factors that show why the player sign the bridge contract:

  • Is this good for me to sign a short-term contract? With a short-term contract, will I be able to sign a long-term contract?
  • After my restricted free years, will I be able to be with the team?
  • After signing a long-term contract, will I become a free agent?
  • Is signing a short-term contract and getting less money better for me, or signing a long-term contract to earn more?

A bridge contract is suitable for players who want to make themselves valuable as, after these bridge deal years, they will earn high, but most players go for a long-term contract in which they earn a million in 6 to 8 years.

Factors for Management in Deciding on a Bridge Contract

Factors for Management in Deciding on a Bridge Contract

Some factors which occur when deciding the length and size of the contract are as follows:

  • Will the performance of the player increase with this contract?
  • Will this player suits the current team?
  • Is signing a long-term contract suitable for the player?
  • Is it reasonable to sign a contract with the player after he is not a restricted free agent, as it will increase the cost of the contract?

Most teams want to sign a short-term contract as they have to pay less to the players. But if they see that the player is fit for their salary cap, they will sign a long-term contract with the player.

Problems that Occur after Four Years when the Entry Level Contract Ends

In the NHL, the player is the team’s property during the contract period. After a three-year entry-level contract end, this is the time when a four-year gap of restricted free agent starts.

Restricted Free Agent

Players are allowed to sign a contract with another team during the four years gap between the entry-level contract and UFA, also known as restricted free agent status.

Possible contracts after entry-level ends: 

  • Can sign a contract for less than four years.
  • One year deal.
  • Sign for 4 years to reach your UFA status (infrequently signed).
  • Signs for UFA for 5 or 8 years.

Some factors are kept in mind as they help select the type of contract.

Let’s examine what role Restricted Free Agent, Unrestricted Free Agent, and Entry Level contracts play in a player’s life.

Unrestricted Free Agent

When the players become unrestricted free agents, there is a four-year gapAfter the player is a general free agent, they can choose a team they want.

Entry Level Contract

The entry-level contract is the first contract that the player signs. In Entry Level contracts, players are paid according to their performance.

What Do the Ends of the Bridge Deal Mean?

What do the Ends of the Bridge Deal Mean

The end of the bridge deal means that the player has completed the contract years in which he has gained experience and played well, and his performance is improved, but he has earned less. Now he can sign a contract with the other team by bidding himself where he will be able to make more.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Bridge Deal in the National Hockey League?

In hockey, a bridge deal is held with players signing their first contract as a restricted free agent with a short term (usually 2-3 years) and ends. In contrast, the player is still a restricted free agent, not upon becoming an unrestricted free agent.

In NHL, How Does Two-Way Contract Works?

The two-way contract is signed with players with which the team expects to spend a few seasons with them.


A bridge deal is good for new players as they will get experience and will work hard to improve their performance. After that, they can demand a salary in their next contract and sign long-term contracts. Almost all young star signs the bridge contract. It is the key tool between the player and the team as the team will also benefit by getting good performance from the player paying less. Players who perform well during this contract are offered long-term contracts.

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