When the small market teams stick together most of the time the average player’s salaries would stay around the same, regardless of free agency. Which makes me wonder why, Kevin Lowe of the Edmonton Oilers a team who has difficulty generating revenue would hand out huge contracts to restricted free agents? In doing this right before the start o arbitration Lowe is single handily raising the contract of every young player in the NHL. First it was a insane offer to 3rd year player Thomas Vanek. The contract he offered was worth roughly 7 million dollars a year. This makes Vanek amongst the highest paid players in the league. Sabres had the right to match this offer under the terms of the CBA. The Sabres did. Now the latest is a 5 year contract worth over 20 million dollars a year for a 3rd year player that had only 45 pts last season. Dustin Penner is a great young talent. Who has yet to prove he deserves top dollar. All Lowe is doing by offering these young players this kind of money is driving up salaries of players. Players that were expected to earn 2 or 3 million in arbitiration will now be getting awarded 4 or 5 million thanks to Lowe’s irresponsible actions. Sean Avery needs to send a thank you card to Kevin Lowe. Avery’s stats compare to Penner’s. Avery was expected to get about 3 yeas at $5 .7 million. Now he is looking at about 3 years at 13 million. People argue this is within the rules of the game. This is true. However high salaries and low revenues is what caused the work stoppage in the first place.
Bottom line is the NHL cannot afford another Lock Out. With the actions of Lowe a small market GM is helping to increase salaries. A few years from now when the Oilers step up and say “we can’t afford the rising cost of players salaries” the reason will be the actions of Kevin Lowe setting the high market prices. I know sometimes a gamble is needed to win in this league. This gamble on young players does not just affect his team, but the NHL and all small market teams. It’s a gamble that is going to destroy this league once the CBA expires.
This blog was authored by TheRick of http://www.thenhlarena.com/