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When the COVID storm finally ends (and it will), I can see the “middle class” of the NHL being severely squeezed. Clubs with little or no appetite to lose that much money will instead play to the salary floor. Only core players on those teams will get paid what they’re worth. After all, they would be the hardest assets to replace. And that in turn will cut the total number of available, high-paying jobs. As a result, more players will be competing for fewer spots.
Whenever supply outstrips demand like that in any economy, the market softens. “Good” players with fewer options will have a harder time getting signed and stand to make less if they do. And for those franchises that stand to significantly open cap space in the next year or two, they potentially benefit. Bargains on very useful parts will be there to be had. And that could really expand the gap between have and have-nots on the ice.
Yes, I believe the Oilers will be one of those “have” franchises. After all, the club has it’s 2 best (and still relatively young) players under long-term contracts that deliver high value per dollar. Its fan base is loyal and diverse. And its owner has various assets, all of which react differently to the same socio-economic event. That kind of diversification works.
It is in this climate that free agency has already fallen into a deep freeze over the last 45 days. Don’t expect it to thaw anytime soon. Interesting times.
Find me on Twitter @KurtLeavins
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