Saturday, July 9, 2011

One Day Off

See I told you so as I take one day off and the New York Rangers would do something of news value. Michael Sauer and Artem Anisimov both signed new 2 year deals with the Rangers.

I look at the signings though as a mixed blessing as when I look at the price tags that both players got then wow did they catch Glen Sather in a really good mood.

Sauer goes from last year's 500,000 to 1.25 million per season. Now Sauer is one of my all-time favorite prospects and as much as I like him; even I am scratching my head at his new deal.

Anisimov goes from last year's cap hit of 822,000 to 1.875 million on his new 2 year deal and I am still trying to figure out how he earned over a million dollar raise. Going from 12-16-28 to 18-26-44 (increase of 6-10-16) earned him this raise in Glen Sather's eyes.

Now I am all for a player getting a raise from the general manager but if you want to talk about some un-Satherlike behavior from Glen Sather then this is really it. Sather who has long earned a reputation for low-balling his own young players went in the total opposite direction.

When you add in these 2 salaries then CapGeek says the Rangers have about 12.9 million in salary cap space with the arbitration hearings for Brian Boyle (July 25th), Ryan Callahan (July 28th) and Brandon Dubinsky (July 21st) looming. If Anisimov got a million dollar for 16 points then what will Boyle's 27 point increase be worth?

Nothing against Anisimov but Boyle had a better season at both ends of the ice so it is really hard to see Boyle not getting a salary equal to or better than Anisimov. Imagine what the agents for Callahan and Dubinsky are thinking after seeing what Anisimov got.

There are 4 spots remaining on the Ranger roster so if Dubinsky and Callahan get cap hits close to the 4 million mark then the Rangers are playing with fire. That would leave the Rangers with about 4.7 million for Boyle and the 6th defenseman.

Honestly felt that Sauer off one good NHL year deserved somewhere in the 800-900 grand range while Anisimov was a good 1.25 million. The fear that the Rangers will spend close to the cap does raise a serious concern as there is no "rainy day" fund for a move at the trading deadline for a playoff push.

The other concern is the expiration of the current CBA after next season as the NHL GMs have been tossing money around as if it was play money. If Gary Bettman says that the players have to give back because the NHL teams are losing money then maybe he should have been speaking with his owners this year.

Selfishly a lockout is what got me my start in the prospect world and I had ways to feed my hockey fix. But the thought of another long extended lockout would be really damaging to a sport that is seriously blind to the problems it is facing from the dollar POV.

Nobody wins in a lockout and for the Rangers it would come at the very worst possible time if one happens in 2012. The Rangers are 2 years away from becoming serious contenders and a work stoppage would do a lot of damage to that effort.

Outside The Ranger World

Hockey in the USA has been growing on a very nice pace as USA Hockey has developed a great National Training and Development program. But there are storm clouds on the horizon that could do a lot of serious damage to those efforts.

It all started when Penn State announced it was going to start up a Men's Hockey program in 2012-13. Penn State as a member of the Big Ten Conference would make it 6 of the schools with ice hockey programs.

Currently there is no Big Ten Conference made up of the schools that play hockey as Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State play in the CCHA. Wisconsin and Minnesota play in the WCHA but the 5 schools will join with Penn State to start up the Big Ten hockey conference.

It helps the Big Ten schools as they have their own sports network and once they have 6 members would qualify for an automatic spot in the NCAA tournament. Good for them but very bad for the rest of college hockey as when the dominoes start falling, the damage will be very serious.

Already those schools left behind in the both the CCHA and the WCHA are making plans for a super conference of their own. North Dakota, Denver, Colorado College, Nebraska-Omaha, Minnesota-Duluth and Miami (Ohio) are reportedly going to announce they will form their own conference next week.

Outside of Nebraska-Omaha you are talking about the best teams from the remaining conferences (with rumors of Notre Dame and Western Michigan joining them) in one really big conference.

But it will leave Alaska, Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State, Northern Michigan, and St. Cloud State without a home (joining University of Alabama-Huntsville who has been homeless for 2 years now).

None of these schools have strong other Division 1 programs in other sports that support would a new conference which would attract a TV contract. This would be the home of the "have-nots" and with just 60 playing Division 1 hockey as it is then odds are good that a few of these programs will fold up shop.

Nobody wins no matter when a hockey program or franchise closes shop. The Lewiston Maineaics in the QMJHL went from semi-finalist to out of business.

In the USA what a shame it would be for places like Bemidji State or Lake Superior State which hockey is their big sport were to disappear as they despite their names have long college histories of their own.

And at a point in time when USA Hockey is making huge strides, one would be hoping that college hockey would be growing. But there is no interest in any of the other Big Ten schools to start up a hockey program.

And out west where there is a growing talent pool thanks to strong local youth programs; there will be few options for players there to keep playing. Unless you are good enough to play for one of the "super conferences" then slots to attract NHL interest will get harder and harder to find.

As our friend Neate Sager of the Buzzing the Net blog points out:

The principle here is that what's best for hockey is the greatest good for the greatest number. That means having all 60 CHL franchises and all 59 NCAA Division I programs thrive to their best ability. It's a little disheartening the agenda of a few athletic programs might put that in jeopardy.

It would have been very easy for those up north in Canada to be happy seeing fewer NCAA Divsion 1 hockey programs. But as he said "the greatest good" is what is best not for the CHL or NCAA but the sport itself.

Nobody wins here.

(Sauer courtesy of the New York Rangers)

1 comment:

Nat Loh said...

cap inflation = bloated raises/salaries. who knew a 40 pt player on the open market could earn $3M per annum?