I've heard plenty of voices over the past few weeks say that the salaries are spiralling out of control again and that the salary-cap really doesn't mean anything anymore. Obviously, this isn't entirely false inspite of what many fans of my Edmonton Oilers will tell you. Obviously as a whole this won't affect the salary cap as the cap is tied to league revenues. What this will do though is help change the balance for RFA's vs. UFA's vs. Rookie contracts.
Raising the bar on RFAs like what has happened witht he Penner signing, coupled with the Roy signing and other similar high priced deals is going to shift the dynamic for better or worse where the share of the pie for UFAs will be smaller thereby shrinking the amount of money they will receive. I believe the money will always be there for the top tier free agents. The Daniel Briere's, Chris Drury's and Ryan Smyth's of the world will still get their big free agent contracts. What moves like this really do though is squeeze that second tier free agent.
The guys who play on the third line will get affected by these moves. What you will see is there will be the 4 million dollar plus players, and the players playing at or near the league minimum type players...the end of the 2.5 million dollar player "The Rob Niedermayer" type player will be hurt by this as they will be getting squeezed from the top by the high priced stars, and from the bottom by the players on Rookie contracts and guys who are willing to settle for the league minimum.
Far be it for me to say if this is wrong or not, but what this is showing is that there are consequences to raising the contracts for a certain segment of the players in the league, and its gonna be the players who play on your third line, your depth players, your Sami Kapanen's, Ethan Moreau's, Rob Niedermayer's who are going to be hurt by this.
Mark my words, you will see veteran players, who are good enough to play in the NHL leave to play in the RSL or the SEL just because the money for them in the NHL won't be there because of them getting squeezed from the top and the bottom. Would you rather have inferior talent playing for half the game or would you rather have all of the best player playing in the league? It may come down to this if the RFAs salaries keep moving higher like they have this summer.
If this trend continues, I guess we can all start saying good-bye to team depth.