The NHL Money Problem

Ok, I know I’ve sat here and defended the Red Wings spending spree until I was blue in the face. I still don’t think they’re overly guilty. However, I’m also an extreme homer and do recognize that there is an extreme money problem in the NHL. With the Rangers going out and spending about 25 million dollars on getting 4 of the top 10 free agents on the market, plus getting Bure for almost nothing at the deadline (up to 35 million dollars on 5 players who definately are not worth 35 million dollars), things have gotten out of control.

However, I don’t believe a flat cap will solve matters, nor will capping individual salaries.

First, the flat cap. Let’s, just b/c of the information I know of them, take the Detroit Red Wings. If we cap it at 35 million, which most teams can afford, Detroit’s drafted players alone would exceed it.

Dandy: 1 million

Datsyuk: .5 mill, soon to be more

Elliott: .5 mill, best guess

Fedorov: only 2 mill, but spread out the signing bonus, and you get something like 6 mill)

Fischer: 1 mill

Holmstrom: 1 mill

Kuznetsov: .65 mill

Larionov: 1 mill

Lidstrom: 10 mill

McCarty: 1 or 3 mill, can’t remember

Wallin: .5 mill

Yzerman: 8 mill

That comes out to about 30 million. BUT the Red Wings wouldn’t have made the Hasek trade, Boston wouldn’t have lured Lapointe away, and the Shanny trade probably freed up some salary, so he should be counted in this. Also, Ozzie would still be here, and Draper and Maltby have been here long enough to be considered as good as drafted (especially since we traded McGillis to get Maltby).

So…that adds an additional 18 million dollars in salary, which pushs us, based on drafted talent alone (not to mention what we’d be paying Vladdie if he was here) 15 million over the salary cap. IOW, we would have to let go of talent and be punished b/c we drafted well. Not how you want to structure your league. And setting the cap to 50 million accomplishes nothing. A flat cap would punish the teams that are run the best, which is grossly unfair. It could also force them to cut some franchise players, which is unfair to the players.

The individual player cap would allow a team like the Rangers to sign all the big names on one market. They’d definately be able to sign all the role players by vastly over paying them b/c they have a lot of money freed from not signing the stars to as big of a contract. Also, it encourages what the Wings did, sign everyone who wants to win a Cup in one season (Hull, Robitaille, Hasek, Olausson, and CuJo didn’t come here for the money). If two teams offer you the same contract, you’re going to go for the better team, which means Detroit instead of signing the above players the last two seasons, would sign them, Amonte, Guerin, Holik, Kaspar, etc b/c they still have the same amount of money to work with. Rich still getting richer.

So what is the way to go, you ask? Cap the amount of money free agents can make. Any player who leaves their team via free agency is limited to 5 million dollars max yearly salary until 3 years after they left their original team. Also, no team is allowed to spend more than 5 million dollars total per year on free agents. Players who stay w/ a team for 4 years have no limit to their salary per year. This encourages loyalty and limits teams to one big free agent signing a year, unless the player wants to be significantly underpaid to play for a champion. Also, it allows them to keep any of their drafted talent, so the good drafting GMs get the talent from their efforts. I think this system, w/ some more detail, would offer the best approach to solving the NHL’s money problem.