4 Reasons There Will Never Be Another NHL Dynasty
Since the lockout, no team has repeated as champion.
Since the lockout, 28 of 30 teams have made the playoffs.
In the last decade, two teams that have held the top overall pick in the draft have won a Cup within five years of making that top selection.
The NHL appears to have figured out competitive balance better than any other professional sport on the continent. Fans in every corner of the league have good reason to hope for a parade in June, and teams that appear to be dead can look at a handful of recent teams that have risen from the ashes to compete quickly.
But will there ever be another dynasty in the NHL?
No. And here are four reasons why.
4. Misplaced Sense of Urgency
There are always going to be stories about teams that gave up on a player too soon, which will forever give rise the "what if" questions. What if Philadelphia hadn't traded away Patrick Sharp? What if Vancouver hadn't given up on Michael Grabner? What if the Phil Kessel trade had never happened?
Because of free agency, GMs all over the league look to move players perceived to be a surplus in their organization in exchange for band-aids to fix a current situation. Other times, players and their agents force organizations to think longer-term than they probably want to because of their salary demands.
When teams feel the need to make a modest trade to avoid mediocrity, they often mortgage their future for a false sense of security in the present. Just look at the Cam Barker-Nick Leddy trade from Minnesota's perspective.
There always have been, and always will be, star players that fall through the cracks. When there weren't salary restrictions, it was a lot easier to keep players around longer into their careers. But now, not as much.
This isn't only about Sidney Crosby, but he's certainly the most visible player that's gone missing recently.
Because of how free agency has impacted the game, any time a superstar gets injured there's the chance that a season breaks down and, as I said in the first slide, GMs will make poor decisions thinking about their present as much or more than their organization's future.
What if Marian Hossa was 100 percent in the Finals for Detroit...or Pittsburgh? What if Tim Thomas had been healthy in 2010? What if Dave Bolland was healthy for the 2011 playoffs? What if Zach Parise hadn't missed most of last year?
Injuries are a reality in hockey, and their impact on rosters all over the league is dramatic.
2. The Salary Floor
The trade that sent Brian Campbell from Chicago to Florida could become a benchmark deal and his face could become symbolic for what the salary floor means in the NHL.
When Campbell signed his "career" deal in Chicago, the assumption was that he would be in Chicago until he retired. Certainly there wasn't a team that could or would afford a defenseman with a cap number over $7 million per for the better part of a decade...right?
But the NHL forcing teams to reach the salary floor can change the fortunes of an organization overnight.
Dale Tallon took over as the GM in Florida and immediately went about the business of cutting dead weight off his roster and then brought in quality veterans. Because he had to spend money, he was able to overpay for guys that had been role players on other teams—like Kris Versteeg—and give them the opportunity to reach their potential.
In the past, players like Versteeg, Tomas Kopecky and the other veterans added by Florida this summer would have served as the exceptional bottom-six "fillers" on would-be dynasty teams. But now that teams have hope to move "unmovable" contracts, and teams are forced to spend money, the competitive balance in the NHL should continue.
Remember: 28 of 30 teams have made the playoffs since the lockout, and the way recent bottom-feeders like Florida are playing this year, that trend should continue.
1. The Salary Cap
Remember when Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien weren't in Winnipeg? And Kris Versteeg hadn't been dealt to Toronto (or Philly...or Florida) yet? And Antti Niemi wasn't in San Jose?
Certainly the cap management in Chicago before they won the Cup wasn't ideal, but the roster they had in 2010 was made up of players that, in decades past, could have become a dynasty.
A third line forward is now a captain and a forward that struggled to find consistency was an All-Star defenseman last year...and both of those former Hawks were on the same Thrashers (now Jets) team.
Boston is in much better position relative to the cap than Chicago was, but there are teams all over the league that get up against the cap and, when they question the mix of players on their roster, have to take dramatic steps to hit the reset button without missing a beat (see Philadelphia, Summer 2011).
Prospects develop and stars have good agents. As long as there's someone willing to pay, players will want more money. And the cap structure—with a ceiling and floor—will always keep teams from buying a ring or minimizing their losses.