This is getting trashed all over the internet, which makes me think it’s more likely that it’s right. Oilers fans would do well, I think, to start having a relationship with their hockey stars that’s somewhat more sophisticated than that of a 14 year old boy who is at his girlfriend’s beck and call until she breaks up with him, at which point he tells people that she’s a slut. Our collective relationship with Taylor Hall and MPS is a business transaction, not a romance. The Oilers will funnel our money to them and, assuming things go well, they’ll provide us with Happy Hockey Moments. They will accept certain things that they might not like, provided that they’re happy with what they’re getting from the relationship as a whole.
A point that I should have made in the previous post but failed to: five of the past six Stanley Cup Champions have done so with significant contributions from players on entry level contracts. Chicago had Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Pittsburgh had Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal. Anaheim had Ryan Getzlaf and Cory Perry. Carolina had Eric Staal and Cam Ward. Detroit, the lone exclusion, had one of the best defencemen of all time as well as Henrik Zetterberg making about $2.5MM, which isn’t much more than an ELC.
It’s worth noting that, as soon as those teams had to start paying fair market value for those players, they took a significant standings hit, surpassed by teams that were sucking at the teat of CBA controlled contracts. We’ve all seen what happened in Chicago over the past summer as the Blackhawks had to deal with finding an extra $15MM to pay Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith for next year. Pittsburgh had to find an extra $11MM to pay Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin after they won the Cup. Detroit, by 2009-10, was spending $10MM more on Zetterberg, Cleary, Fillipula and Franzen than they did in 2007-08. Anaheim was spending an extra $9MM on Getzlaf and Perry by 2008-09. Carolina is currently spending about $12.75MM more now than they did in 2005-06 on Cam Ward and Eric Staal.
Winning the Stanley Cup isn’t rocket science: you do it by spending your money better than everyone else and getting lucky. Really good young players provide you with outrageous value, which you can then turn into something else. My worry, when I listen to Steve Tambellini drone on his lobotomized monotone, is that he and the rest of the Oilers braintrust still thinks that this is the 1990′s, when you could do what Ottawa did and gather a bunch of players together, suffer through the growing pains and then reap the benefit of a team that runs roughshod over the league (as the Sens did) for the next seven or eight years. The NHL no longer works that way. Teams that try to do it that way will find that a window they never even knew was open has already closed. Giving away a very real and concrete advantage in 2013-14 because of fears of vague and uncertain consequences strikes me as foolish.
Update: Just looking at the HF discussion of this, most of which is a trainwreck of nonsense, I see the following point made by Injektilo:
…the idea that staying in junior (for Hall) harms his development seems to be undetermined. I can’t think of anyone who was expected to kick ass, was forced to stay down in the minors a while longer, and then suffered when they came to the NHL. Like I said though, there’s the whole 2003 draft class to consider, guys who were forced to spend an extra year of development during the lockout. Didn’t seem to harm them.
That is, I think, an excellent point. While it’s debateable as to whether any of the players who were forced to spend their age 19 season in junior were in Hall’s class, with the exception of Staal and Horton, some very good players played an extra two years of junior after they were drafted and have gone on to have fine careers. Is Taylor Hall now that much better than guys like Carter, Richards, Phaneuf, Brown and Perry were when they were a year past their draft age?