Saturday, July 30, 2005

What is Rebuilding?

With the NHL draft just a few hours away, I thought I would fire off a quick post on rebuilding. As we all know, teams rebuild when they do not have the talent to make a serious run at the playoffs. They just know it's not going to happen and they build a core of inexpensive youth so that when the time comes, they can add a key player and be a competitive team. During the rebuilding process, the team's record is not supposed to matter.

But is there room for serious rebuilding in the NHL anymore? And should there be? And if a team rebuilds, what definition of rebuilding should they use?

I think the philosophy that a team should not spend a lot of money, just stock tons of youth and hope they don't embarrass themselves is something no team needs to do under this CBA. Why? Because a rookie is now making $450,000 and Sandis Ozolinsh, a quality player, just signed for a little over $2 million. Because when this is all said and done, when this crazy offseason is over, quality players will be had for an inexpensive price tag. And for a team that has the financial resources to spend $30 million, is it really too much to say, "We want to build a young core of inexpensive youth so that when we can make a serious run for the Cup we are in great position, but let's have a solid four, five or six players, veterans that can win and put the puck in the net." If you have a young core that is not much on their own, but surround them with a few veterans making a couple million bucks a piece (and maybe one guy making $4 million) then you are putting yourself in a position to win, while still giving half the team a chance to learn and grow at the NHL level.

I am a New York Ranger fan and the talk around town is throwing away this season, and I believe that is completely unacceptable. The Rangers can spend money and with so many FA's on the market, why not get a couple very good players to complement Jagr, add a veteran D-man for not too much money and let the youth grow. At the worst, the young guys learn something and get better. At the best, everything clicks and they make a serious run at a playoff spot.

Today, the New York Daily News is reporting that Naslund and Forsberg both want to come to Broadway. Now, you can talk about rebuilding all you want, bus assuming these guys don't ask for a ridiculous amount of money, can you really say no to that kind of talent? Of course not.

Some say that next year's free agent class is so good that teams need to be in a good cap position then, and that means not signing big players. I agree, there are going to be some excellent free agents out there. But there are some great FA's this year too, and there is a ton of depth on the free agent market. Also, teams can front load a contract. If they want to sign a player for $3 million a year over two years, they can pay him $5 million this year and $1 million next year. If the team isn't going to spend the cap this year, it leaves them an extra $2 million in cap room for next season.

This is relevant for a lot of teams. Rebuilding is good. Young core is good. Throwing away the season should not be an option in this new NHL.