NHA Official Rule Book

Last updated: Oct 6, 2012

Setting Rosters and Lines

Roster and lines should be set using the latest "STHS Client v2" program available at the SimonT Hockey Simulator website in the download section, and loading the NHA's client file into it. The client file is the data file available on the NHA website by clicking on the green arrow in the top right corner of the website. This file should be re-downloaded and re-opened in the STHS client software each time you want to make a change. Rosters and lines for both "pro" and "farm" teams should both be set.

Submit lines by uploading them to the website using the upload files feature.

Entry Drafts

The NHA Entry Draft is held annually in a live chat room online. Each year we select from the same list of players who were taken in that year's NHL Entry Draft. The NHA Entry Draft is always preferrably held shortly after the NHL Entry Draft and is always the same number of rounds as the NHL Entry Draft. In years past, the first two or three rounds are held live in the chat room with the rest of the draft being done by league management based on draft lists submitted by GMs.

The NHA does not have players re-entering the draft. Prospects drafted in the NHA remain on their respective teams' prospect list until they are either signed to a pro contract or released.

Update: In 2012 we are experimenting with holding the draft on the message board, spread out over weeks rather than in one day.

Player Ratings

Since the 2005-06 season after the lockout, we have maintained a system of "current" ratings for NHA players. It works like this:

Each off-season there are re-ratings for players, to ensure that they are accurate league-wide based on the past year's NHL season and that everything is up-to-date.

The NHA season annually starts after the NHL season is in progress by at least three weeks to five weeks, usually more. At that time, the league gives rookie ratings based on which players are playing in the NHL that season. Young and improving players may also likely see their breakout NHL seasons start to boost their NHA ratings. These ratings are done automatically by the league by close moderation, but "challenges" (ie bringing a player's NHL production to the attention of the commissioner) are both accepted and encouraged.

Players aged 25 and younger, or in their first season in the NHL, are the most likely to receive ratings boosts based on their NHL production that season. Veterans are given a more "benefit of the doubt" approach, and aren't generally boosted too much higher or lower than what they were rated to start the season, especially at the beginning part of the NHL season when a veteran player's poor start may just be a slump. A major injury may bring a players' DU rating down, however, which can affect the OV rating.

Ratings changes will not be made during the playoffs, and no ratings will be lowered after the trade deadline.

This system has worked very well for years, and is a unique part of the NHA that allows us to stay current with the breakout performances and rookie race each season.

Rookie Status

Rookie status for every player in the current NHA season is the same as that player's rookie status in the NHL for the same current season. Previous NHA games played don't affect rookie status in the NHA, only NHL rookie status. The reason for this is an effort to simplify things, and keep the rookie races each year simply the same as real life instead of adding the extra work that would be required to see which players passed the rookie limit the previous NHA season.

Free Agency

Free agency happens each season, and rules will be posted when that time comes. Each team will be allowed to re-sign up to two upcoming UFA's for that season instead of letting them become UFAs and hit the open market. These re-signings will be documented by the league, and do not need to both take place at the same time. If a re-signed UFA is traded, the team does not gain back their UFA signing allotment and the traded player does not take up a UFA re-signing slot of his new team.

Every season starting on January 1, it is possible to start contract extentions for players. This includes all RFA's and up to two UFA's. The extented portion of the contract is added on to the future contract years of the player, with their last contract year's salary still in place.

  • Each contract's salary shall be for the same amount of money on each year of the contract.
  • There are no signing bonuses in the NHA.
  • The maximum contract length in the NHA is 4 years.

    Restricted Free Agents

    A restricted free agent is any player aged 27 or younger at the time that their contract runs out. A time period will be given in the off-season where GM's may start to send in their offers to a league official (most likely the commissioner) with offers on their RFA's in order to re-sign them. This is generally an easy process with perhaps a few back and forth emails until all RFAs are re-signed.

    There are no RFA offer sheets in the NHA to allow teams to sign RFAs away from other teams with compensation.

    In the rare case that a RFA isn't re-signed with his team by the time the season starts, the player will remain on the team's roster with a full-season "suspension" as they remain contractless and the GM attempts to sign or trade the player. This rarely if ever happens, since at minimum a 1-year contract should always be easy to reach terms on.

    Unrestricted Free Agents

    The UFA age in the NHA is 28. Any player on the STHS-generated (sometimes known as the "classic view") roster page during the off-season who's age is 28 and with 0 years left on their contract, is a UFA.

    Every year, each team will be allowed to re-sign two of their UFA's of their choosing. Teams can chose to trade the UFA rights of players they won't be able to re-sigm, to other teams who can use them towards their two re-signings.

    Unrestricted free agency will be done in the off-season each year using a draft system, where a random draft order will be made up and teams will "draft" (ie sign) UFA's, who will already have their future new contract publically listed. The draft order is snaked each round (for example, a team choosing 30th then then choose 31st). The pool of players is made up of all unsigned UFA's, plus all players who are signed to an NHL, AHL or ECHL contract in real life but aren't a part of any NHA organization. This includes undrafted college UFA signings and undrafted european UFA signings each year.

    Entry Level Contracts, Signing Rookies

    The league automatically researches which players turn pro every year to graduate from prospect lists to team rosters during the off-season. The league hands out entry level contracts automatically, as they are generally very standard with little to negotiate. As of 2012 the max rookie salary for a rookie 25 years old or younger is 950k with no bonuses. Lengths of contracts are automatically determined by age as of September 15 of that year:

    Age 18-21 when first signing: 3 years
    Age 22-23: 2 years
    Age 24: 1 year
    Age 25 or older: 1 year and no rookie salary limit

    Salary Cap

    The salary cap for the NHA always the same as the NHL. For 2014-15, it will be 69 million.

    In an effort to allow flexibility for injury and suspension replacements to be called up from the farm, the NHA does not count injured or suspended players against the salary cap.
    A team may go over the salary cap during the off-season but is encouraged to remain under.

    During season play, any team going over the salary cap will have one week to get back under. If the simulator software won't allow for games to be played while a team is over the cap, or if a team remains over the cap for more than one week, a player at the league's choosing will be forced to sit out on temporary suspention to fit back under the cap until the situation is dealt with.

    Contract Buyouts

    Buying a player out of his current contract will cost a team 40% of the players total remaining contract (salary x years). The player will then be released and salary will not count towards the cap. A buyout can happen during the off-season only.

    Farm Eligibility

    Players who have played 5+ real life pro farm games (North American leagues such as AHL or ECHL only), or 15+ real life pro farm games the previous season, are eligible to play on the farm in the current NHA season. All other players are NHA-only. Exceptions to this rule are:

  • If a player starts his first pro season on injury reserve in real life (thus having no pro farm GP) but is generally known to be starting on the farm will be NHA farm eligible.
  • If a player played more farm games than NHL games in real life during the past season, they will be farm eligible in the NHA. This covers players who spent the entire year injured and didn't hit the necessary farm GP marks, but were legitimately farm players.
  • If a player has an overall rating of 68 or higher he is no longer farm eligible.

    The farm eligibility of each player is enforced automatically by the simulator and client software. The reason for the above limits is to keep teams from hoarding players on the farm, since a simulation league doesn't have the added element of trade demands or holdouts from disgruntled players wishing to play, as well as no waiver draft.

    Retiring Players

    If a player retires in the NHL, he will then retire in the NHA. If the player retires during the NHA regular season after the trade deadline or during the playoffs, the player will remain on his NHA team for the remainder of the season. If the player retires in the NHL during the NHA season before the trade deadline, he will then retire in the NHA immediately as well.

    A player who retires will be owed none of his total remaining NHA salary.

    Players Leaving for Europe

    A player who leaves the NHL to play in europe will be taken off his NHA roster. Any GM of a team having a player removed from their roster due to signing in europe may request at any time during that season to have that player added back to their prospects list. In some cases, when the player is still considered an NHL prospect who may return to North America, the league will do this automatically. The player would then be placed on his teams' prospect list with an asterisk (*) by his name, and remain there for one full season of hockey. Once the player starts playing a second season of hockey in europe, their rights will be lost. If the player returns to North America to play hockey after just one season in Europe, they will move from the prospect list to an RFA on the roster of their past team.

    Any player returning to the NHA must be signed to a new contract as his previous one is void.

    Any player returning to the NHA whose rights were not retained is a UFA. Any player whose rights were retained is a RFA regardless of age.

    Making Trades

    Players, prospects, and draft picks for the next two entry drafts may be traded.

    Trades must be negotiated and then submitted to the website only once both teams have agreed to the trade. Teams may not use the website trade submission feature as a means of making trade offers.

    Teams should only announce a trade in articles or postings once the trade has been approved by the league.

    In rare cases, the league may choose to reject a trade that is submitted if it is not seen as close enough in value for each team. The two GMs involved will first be contacted and asked to explain their side of the trade. Newer GM's to the league, regardless of other league experience, will be watched closer. GMs with more time in the NHA will be given more free reign to run their team. The NHA doesn't not want to have to reject any trade, and will always see this as a last resort.

    General Manager Activity

    All GMs must be active in the NHA in order to keep their spot. GM activity includes responding to all emails and website private messages, submitting lines during the season, participating in free agency and the entry draft, writing articles and everything in between. "Last login date" is also recorded as a measure of making sure a GM is still with us. General Managers who leave their team to run on its own without participation, who don't properly notify the league before hand, may have their position revoked.


    If sending a player to the minors who has played 20 games in the NHA during the season, they must first clear a 48-hour waiver period. Players 23 and younger are excempt. The GM Editor software will tell you when a player needs to be put on waivers when you try to demote the player.

    Relocated or renaming your team, logos, farm team name, etc.

    The NHA doesn't make it easy to relocate a team. A GM must be in the NHA for two full years in order to have a chance at changing their team's name\location. It can only be done during the off-season, and must be submitted to the commissioner for approval. The city must be a large market, and the new logo must be professional looking.

    A team wishing to change just their logo and/or team colors may submit the change to the league after one full year of being in the league, and it may be done only during the off-season.

    As an alternative, the league is much more open to farm team relocations. A GM must be in the league for at least part of one season before they may relocate and/or rename a farm team, and the logo must be professional looking.