In the first season of the salary cap 2005/06, teams were adjusting to the new economic system and this made for some teams that had very tight finances as they were very close to the salary cap. These teams were unable to add significant talent at the trade deadline, so it turned out that the Stanley Cup was a battle between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Edmonton Oilers. There were two teams who left themselves enough salary cap space to add some key players. Carolina added Doug Weight and Mark Recchi. Edmonton added Dwayne Roloson and Sergei Samsonov. That is one reason that they were the teams that wound up in the finals. In the next two years, teams better adjusted to the new system and the next two Stanley Cup winners in the Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings managed to leave a bit more breathing room.
This season, there is a change in how the salary cap is calculated. Because it is potentially the last season of the CBA (the NHLPA can chose to end it this summer), all potential bonuses are counted against the cap this year until which time they cannot be achieved. This “helps” the NHL maintain cost certainty under this CBA, since it does not allow teams to exceed the cap with bonuses which are then charged to next year’s cap. As a result, we have more teams that are close to the salary cap than in the last two years. Thus, it might be a similar situation to 2005/06 where the eventual cup winner is a team that left itself cap space to make trade deadline additions.
When I gave my 2008/09 predictions, one of the most criticized picks I made is that the Edmonton Oilers should finish last in the Northwest Division and 11th in the West Conference. The argument against this is simple. Last season, Edmonton finished 4th in the Northwest Division and 9th in the West Conference. They finished strong with a 14-6 record in their last 20 games (one game was a shootout loss and counts as a regulation tie). During the off season, they added Lubomir Visnovsky and Erik Cole, giving up Joni Pitkanen. They have many talented young players such as San Gagner and Andrew Cogliano, who should continue to improve. How can anyone say they will be worse this season? The answer is that last season’s result was misleading. I argue that they will be a better team and not be as lucky in their point total.
The NHL has had re-entry waivers as part of the CBA since the lockout occurred. Re-entry waivers are when a player who makes more than $100,000 a year in the AHL (this number goes up over time) is recalled to the NHL. He must clear waivers before he joins his current NHL team. If a player is claimed on waivers, his original team gets him for half his remaining salary and half his remaining salary cap hit. The prevailing wisdom is that if one team thinks a player is worth recalling, so will another team in the league if he is available at half price. Therefore, you are highly unlikely to get any player through re-entry waivers successfully, so don’t even try. This led to the Los Angeles Kings leaving Jason LaBarbera in the minors for the entire 2006/07 season, even though he was playing very well and won the Baz Bastien Trophy for top AHL goalie, while the Kings were struggling to find NHL goaltending. They would up using re-tread Sean Burke and minor league never-will-bes in Barry Brust and Yutaka Fukufuji instead. I oppose this rule because it is an artificial construct that keeps some NHL talent out of the league. I have written about this several times in the past including here.
I finish up my pre-season predictions by ranking the East Conference. Earlier I did this with the West Conference. Here are more in depth looks at the Northeast Division, Atlantic Division and Southeast Division. This will be a predicted finish of the East Division clubs. Write-ups for individual teams are in the division profiles.
It’s time for the final conference of my pre-season predictions. Here are my West Conference predictions and in my run through the East Conference here is the Northeast Division and here is the Atlantic Division. The Southeast Division has been the NHL’s weakest division for the past few years. Last year, only Washington managed to make the playoffs. With the more balanced schedule we will see this season, it is easier for that scenario to repeat itself as there will be fewer points tied up in games between Southeast Division teams.
I continue onward with pre-season predictions. I have already done the West Conference and the Northeast Division. I continue to march onward through the East Conference by looking at the Atlantic Division. The Atlantic Division is usually one of the stronger East Conference divisions. In both of the last two years, four teams from this division have qualified for the playoffs.
I am continuing with my pre—season predictions today by looking at the Northeast Division. Here are my West Division picks. The Northeast Division has produced the East Conference regular season champion for the past three seasons and each year it has been a different team (Ottawa in 2006, Buffalo in 2007 and Montreal in 2008). That says that this division has some good teams and should be able to challenge for the division lead again.
The Nashville Predators have had a tenuous financial existence for the last couple of years. The problems started in earnest when original owner Craig Leipold decided to get out of the financial losses. There was an offer by Jim Balsillie to buy the team and bring it to Hamilton. This was turned down for a local group (that offered less money - but has made it easier for the NHL to approve his purchase of the Minnesota Wild). The team was eventually sold to that local group, but they have never been on strong ground financially. In order to get the deal together, the Nashville group asked for and received concessions from the city.
I have make predictions of the three West Conference divisions: the Northwest Division, the Pacific Division and the Central Division. Now I will that together to give a predicting ranking from one to fifteen within the conference. This will just be a listing of teams. For a bit of a detailed write-up look at the divisional predictions.
My pre-season hockey predictions continue today with Central Division. My Northwest Division predictions are here and my Pacific Division ones are here. The Central Division has been the division of the talented Detroit Red Wings and a bunch of also rans for the last couple years. Some of these teams have made a step forward, but I find it hard to imagine anyone catching the Red Wings.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
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