Team building in the 'new' NHL
Eric Duhatschek has a fascinating piece on-line today on how the general managers remaining in the playoffs have built their teams under the league's new salary cap.
It offers some great insight from Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke, who says that during his time on the unemployment line, he looked to the NFL — and Indianapolis Colts GM Bill Polian in particular — for ideas on how to build a team in a salary-cap league. Here's Burke:
"Managing a team these days is still about asset management, but the premium now is going to be on drafting well and keeping those draft choices until they get to unrestricted free agency, even if you have to take them to arbitration.That's wisdom that goes against what some have said, namely Tom Benjamin, about the decreased value of draft picks in the salary-capped NHL. As the reasoning goes, when you're losing players by age 25 (in the case of the elite) to unrestricted free agency, how valuable can they be?
"But no matter what, you're going to end up driving guys to the airport, saying thank you very much, far more often than you did in the past."
You really need to read the whole piece to understand exactly what Burke's getting at here. One last bit from Duhatschek:
Of the four teams that held 2-0 leads into the third game of the Stanley Cup quarter-finals, three — the San Jose Sharks, the Buffalo Sabres and the Carolina Hurricanes — are winning, with young improving teams operating well under the salary cap.If this truly becomes the accepted 'path' to winning in this league, I'm guessing we'll soon have all sorts of imitators — which means, among other things, that being a UFA won't be as much of a ticket to riches as it's been in the past. It's something we'll definitely get a better idea of in the offseason.
For the most part, they were on their way down this path long before the NHL salary restrictions were put in place.