If there’s one thing to notice about the NHL this summer, it’s that teams are not holding together (with rare exception, see below.) Detroit finally retired it’s 90s dynasty with the departure of Shannahan and Yzerman. Colorado, who already were forced to part with Forsberg, lost another of its glory-day snipers. Indeed, all of the formerly big power teams are falling apart due to their failure (either deliberate or negligent) to adjust to the upcoming cap.
Players like Peter Foresberg, who you could afford to have in a non-cap structure, you really can’t now. He’s too injury prone to be the one guy you drop $7m on. Same with Jagr–he just doesn’t get it done in the playoffs (without Mario).
A few of the teams that did prepare for the cap era didn’t lose anyone they didn’t want to. Here you can list the Ducks, Flames, Predators, Wild, and Coyotes. These teams will have the advantage of having some modicum of cohesion going forward, in addition to their suddenly arriving position as teams that can afford to acquire players.
Which brings me to the Devils. I have been a fan of Lou Lamoriello for a long, long time. I’ve defended his moves and non-moves. But, I’m not beyond pointing out a couple of his mistakes that have been disasters.
The 1999-2000 year was a multi-layered triumph for Lou. The Devils won the Cup in dominant fashion on the backs of not just their established champion core of Brodeur, Stevens, Niedermayer, and Holik, but also with a group of all-star rookies fresh out of the box, including John Madden, Brian Rafalski, Scott Gomez, and Colin White. He made brilliant moves at the deadline, brining in Alexander Mogilny and Vlad Malakhov to create the team that would win the cup and go on to have the highest scoring offense and second stingiest defense the next year on route to a game 7 loss in the finals.
But in that triumph the seeds of a disastrous 2006-7 season were sewn. Ralfalski and Madden were undrafted, which meant at the time that their contracts functioned outside of the normal group numbers. They played so well beyond expectations that when their contracts were up for renewal, instead of the normal qualifying offers, all Lou had to do was provide notice. He failed (or was a day late–I forget exactly) and those two would have been kept in the loop for a long time at a discount. Instead, he had to sign them for UFA prices.
Second, last summer’s bizarre signings of Mogilny, Malakhov, and Dan McGillis ate up even more cap room. All of these errors together account for roughly $10m of lost cap space–more than enough to put this team back in contention, or at least retain Gomez and Gionta, who, in the absence of Patrik Elias were this team’s entire offensive engine.
Next year is gonna suck.