NHL Expansion – What Does It Mean For The Talent?
Talk is apparently heating up about the National Hockey League expanding by up to two teams and one being rumored to be Seattle, possibly as soon as next season. One could easily see the option as just being over the hill for the NHL with its unbalanced conferences under the new re-alignment that takes effect for the upcoming season.
Some fans and media alike are worried that the talent pool and in turn the product on the ice will be diluted, and undeservedly compared to the last expansion era. While the former does have a direct impact on the latter, in this debate the two have to be separated. And we will try and separate that here.
The NHL added nine teams between 1991 and 2000 and it drastically affected the talent pool. But in 2013, the players today are in much better shape, take care of themselves better and are playing until later years than ever before. That in turn keeps younger players out of the league even when ready to play. Two former OHL players come to mind almost immediately that were either ready or are ready and could be affected by the numbers game – Ryan Strome and Ryan Spooner.
Of course there are others – too many to name here – that are playing all over the world. We are comparing 180 players over 9 years to 40 players immediately – and with the expansion draft, it won’t have that much affect on the talent pool or in turn the product on the ice – at least not directly.
However, that’s not to say the product on the ice won’t suffer. But that will come more directly from the current collective bargaining agreement that it will the players playing in the league.
What the heck is this guy talking about? There was no CBA back in the last expansion era and the product suffered immensely. Bare with me here.
Prior to the NHL having a salary cap, the NHL had have and have not teams. This created a huge disparity among teams and thus the product on the ice. And the current CBA sets up the exact same scenario.
Even though the players share dropped to 50% of hockey related revenues, the cap is dropping for just one season and many believe that in one short year it will be back to where it was last season. Many predict that the cap could actually hit $90 million by year five of the current agreement. And there will be three maybe four teams to spend to that maximum.
What has dropped is the cap floor in relationship to the cap maximum creating a huge disparity. The new calculation for determining the cap floor reduces that lower limit compared to what the old formula in calculating it did. And thus it will create the have and have not teams once again – those that will spend to the maximum and those that will spend to the floor.
And while adding two more teams will see the Stromes and the Spooners of the world playing when they should be, the dilution of the product will come from the three or four teams willing to spend the dollars to stock up while three times that will be spending just what they have to in order to be compliant.
That’s just my two cents worth.