Can you explain why/how some players get NMC and NTC? Relatively new to hockey. Does every player get to ask or only the ~best~? Also, if an RFA gets a contract a few weeks before the deadline, would it be right to presume team thinks more of him than RFAs on same team who get a QO at the deadline? Or is the timing of the offer irrelevant?
Any player who’s an unrestricted free agent, or who is negotiating a contract that bridges from their RFA years into their UFA years can ask for one. It used to be a lot rarer, but now teams seem to use it like an extra perk. Like sign with us and we’ll throw that in there, guarantee we’re not going to move you. And that comes back to bite them from time to time. But only players in their UFA years can have them. It’s why you’ll see “only kicks in during the 2020-21 season” or such on some contracts. Or, take Connor McDavid’s extension as an example. It kicks in next season, but the NMC only becomes active in year 5 (2022-23) because that’s the season he would have been eligible to be UFA.
The timing is pretty irrelevant. Teams want to lock up their best guys as quickly as possible, but things get dragged out sometimes. Some players refuse to talk contracts during the season, but fully intend to sign, and do so as soon as the season ends. Basically, there’s no real hurry. You’ve got all summer to work out a deal, and arbitration if you need it. Every team, and every player, operates on a different schedule, so I wouldn’t read too much into that.