Expansion the reason for clutch & grab/lower scoring?
I’ve recently noticed that perhaps the reason behind hockey moving towards clutch and grab, and lower scoring is deep rooted in expansion and the lack of talent available to fill up 30 teams full of 22-23 man rosters. Between 1998 and 2000 The NHL welcomed Nashville, Atlanta, Columbus and Minnesota into the league. The 99-00 season (when the league went to 30 teams) saw the first Art Ross trophy winner with less than 100 points since Stan Makita did it with 87 points in 1968…
This has since become a bit of a trend with Iginla and St.Louis winning their trophies with 96 and 94 points respectively.
The 1992-93 season had 21, yes… 21 – 100+ point scorers… and in less than a decade than number sank down to 0.
So it seems that the NHL was not ready for this kind of expansion just 5 years ago. If the league stuck at 26 teams for the last 5 years its pretty likely that we would have had at least a single 100 point scorer each season… 4 teams account for almost 100 new players in only two seasons… and as a result the talent suffers (suffered) and it seems the game changed as a result of this.
After 10 games the league has 11 players on pace to break the 100 point mark including a defenceman (McCabe) and a rookie (Crosby) and 15 players on pace to crack 50 goals. The NHL desperately needs this kind of action and the combination of the youthful speedy talent and the new rules to exploit this talent is the reasoning behind the numbers we should be used to seeing for the last 10 years or so.
It will be nice to see the NHL have enough 100 point scorers to make a ‘club’ out of it once again.