I've been passively flipping through some of the economic news of the day and have found several sources suggesting that we should not in any way be trading futures on oil and food. Sounds simple enough - why hoard the necessities of the day and drive up the price for those who simply can't afford it?
I also just saw that Dennis Wideman just got $15.75M over 4 years. That's an average of just under $4M (or $4M minus his salary last year!). Is he a $4M player? Sure, by today's NHL he's probably worth about 7% of your total cap hit this year. The reasoning, I'm sure, is that the cap will keep going up and these players will be taking up a lesser percentage of your cap space each year by signing them to these longer-term deals with a decent average over the long term.
It used to be, I think, that you paid a guy what he's worth on the open market or something close to it when you factor in home-town discounts or what a player means to his particular team in terms of a premium.
But you don't need to have experienced the dirty 30's to understand what happens when the bottom falls out of whatever you've bet on for the future. You needn't look any further than the sub-prime crisis which is killing banks, the .com burst which redefined how we do business and the coming food/oil crunch which has already set those working on world poverty issues back 7 years.
With each year's free agent class re-defining what a player of a particular calibre is worth there will come a year, if this model sticks past this opt-out year, where there won't be enough space under the cap (or in a team's budget if your team can barely reach what might be a $50M basement) to sign everyone for their fair value. If revenues decline and more of the NHL's best head for greener pastures, linkage or not, there may simply not be enough money!
Don't forget that when you buy a player out and reduce his cap hit, you have to pay him in REAL dollars. With legitimate economic crises upon us, money may not be abundant enough just to buy players out when you want to and absorb the hit.
Enough of the doomsday talk. I just think it's a dangerous game for the NHL to be playing as more and more players are signed to "futures" deals with inflation on the side of the particular team... for now.
I could be full of it. But I've heard Columbus is almost in this boat already...