18 April 2019
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 NHL Salary Floor Hockey

 

Many teams fight an internal battle on spreadsheets long before they step onto the ice to do battle. It is well known that teams such as the Atlanta Thrashers, Florida Panthers, Phoenix Coyotes, and Dallas Stars have mounting attendance woes that cannot be overcome in their present state.

Many of the teams that regularly spend up to the cap complain of the revenue sharing plan and how they finance the league's lesser lights, yet find every way to add players to stack themselves against the other pocket-lined markets. There are good and poor examples of management to be sure.

One must argue that the prestigious Detroit Red Wings lead the way in competing for the Stanley Cup and have an enormous fan-base that spans the globe instead of being regionalized. They must be regarded as the high-water mark. It is highlighted by the Red Wings' renowned scouting and development programs. However, their on-iceNHL money payroll is lofty and regularly challenges the cap limit imposed by the National Hockey League.

The flip side would be the mismanagement of the Toronto Maple Leafs, whom are only now gaining momentum enough to join the NHL playoff races despite annually being the most valuable franchise (according to Forbes Magazine) and keeping demand for their product at a premium.

The self proclaimed 'State of Hockey' boasts a team in the Minnesota Wild that once thrived on sell-out after sell-out and had a consistently competitive team but has slid into disarray. The Wild have missed the playoffs for the past three seasons and have one of the worst prospect systems in the NHL supplying talent. The team does not sell-out much anymore and has fallen to 17th in attendance from being in the top ten just five years earlier (ESPN attendance figures).

The lowly New York Islanders should be buoyed by the fact that teams such as the Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, and Pittsburgh Penguins were once proud teams that had fallen on hard times. There is definitely a youth movement with quality players under contract, but one must remember that some marquee talent in the league once donned Islanders' colours under the same management.

So who does the best job of pulling their own weight in terms of relative financial hardships and franchise prosperity?

Teams such as the Colorado Avalanche and Carolina Hurricanes are by no means slouches historically; both teams have won the Stanley Cup and having a fine base of young talent to draw upon in the future, although the recent results have not been spectacular.

The 'under new ownership' Buffalo Sabres are in an enviable position. The tandem of GM Darcy Regier and head coach Lindy Ruff give the franchise stability, an under-rated trait. The prospect system is healthy and is known for producing quality NHL players even if the club has difficulty retaining their services. It is a team that draws in the middle of the pack but is a small market that draws regular crowds from nearby Toronto. The Sabres have returned to the playoffs the past two seasons and have been given license by new owner Terry Pegula to loosen the purse strings, perhaps spurred on by the fact that they are only five years removed from a loss in the Conference Final.

The Nashville Predators are the finest example, finding a way to compete night-in-and-out by employing defensive strategies and relying on heart and grit to give them a chance to win. In the past five seasons they have averaged 44.6 wins and this season advanced to the second round against the Vancouver Canucks for the first time in franchise history.

The Predators are becoming known for solid scouting and a penchant for developing strong goaltending. This season Nashville was on the books for $52.2M, which is much more than in seasons past, though still close to $9M below the salary cap. Well done GM David Poile. With a Vezina Trophy finalist in Pekka Rinne between the pipes and Norris Trophy finalist Shea Weberpatrolling the blueline, it is difficult to believe that the Predators do not have a current contract in excess of $5M per season.

 

  

24 May 2011 / Robin Keith Thompson

 

 

Sources:

NHL attendance figures - http://espn.go.com/nhl/attendance/_/sort/allAvg

NHL league overview - http://eliteprospects.com/league_home.php?leagueid=7

NHL league overview (THN) - http://forecaster.thehockeynews.com/hockeynews/hockey/teamindex.cgi

Cap Geek (finances) - http://capgeek.com/index.php

NHL numbers (finances) - http://nhlnumbers.com/teams?year=2011

2010 NHL club valuations - http://www.forbes.com/lists/2010/31/hockey-valuations-10_land.html

Financial rankings - http://list.canadianbusiness.com/rankings/hockey_salaries/2010/Default.aspx?sp2=1&d1=d&sc1=3&gclid=CNjV4LOdqacCFQM6gwod9119Bw

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