NHL players hit their peak by 29. How wise is the eight-year contract?

Jason Kay
P.K. Subban will only be 33 when his eight-year deal expires (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images).

The NHL took a hard stand during the 2012-13 lockout when it came to maximum contract length, fighting fervently for five years, then compromising at eight (for re-signings).

Since then, up to the pact agreed to by P.K. Subban in early August, 11 players had won max term. In the big picture, it’s a small number, representing a tiny fraction of all deals. But due to the dollars and profile involved, the question remains: is eight great?

The answer depends on your perspective. If you’re demanding equal value across all seasons, prepare to be disappointed. The evidence shows that, apart from notable exceptions, returns diminish on players beginning in their early 30s.

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NHL expansion is coming, just don’t hold your breath

GTA Centre Markam

The NHL has gone a full 14 years without adding a single expansion team, which is the longest period without growth since the league ballooned from six to 12 teams in 1967. The business of hockey is stronger than it has ever been and hockey’s global reach has ensured that the league would be less watered down by adding teams than it has in the past.

So, yes, the NHL is ripe for expansion. That’s probably why a published report that the NHL is going to add four teams by 2017 was met with such enthusiasm. To follow some accounts, expansion to Las Vegas is a “done deal” despite the fact there is no ownership group in place yet and the league will have new teams in Las Vegas, Quebec City, Toronto and Seattle by the time it blows out the 100 candles on its birthday cake. Read more

NHL expansion: What would a Las Vegas roster look like?

Ryan Kennedy
Would the Red Wings expose Stephen Weiss to a draft?  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The online world was abuzz Tuesday night with various reports about NHL expansion, specifically Las Vegas as an initial destination. Personally, I think the league is fine at 30 teams and that contracting to 28 wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. But in the interest of fun, I started to put together a roster for a potential Las Vegas team and you know what? The options aren’t that bad. I’m assuming that an expansion draft for the squad takes place in the summer of 2015 and that the players involved basically stay on their same career trajectories. Based on the last expansion draft in 2000, teams could protect one goalie, five defensemen and nine forwards, or two goalies, three defensemen and seven forwards. Players still on entry-level deals were excluded.

This does provide a few pickles out there. For instance, Ottawa just re-signed Craig Anderson, but there’s no way the Sens leave Robin Lehner unprotected; meaning only three blueliners are behind the shield. Obviously Erik Karlsson is one and Marc Methot another. But is the third Chris Phillips or Jared Cowen? Do you assume Phillips would rather retire a Senator and that Las Vegas would know that? And you can’t give up on Cowen this quickly, right?

And pity Boston, where the Bruins just have too many good defensemen (I’m also assuming pending free agents would stick with their current teams for the sake of this exercise). I tried to get up to the salary cap floor here, but I would think the NHL would be a little forgiving for the first season, so my 23-man roster comes in at around $50 million. The team was also given the third overall pick in the draft, since the rest of the league would riot if Vegas got Connor McDavid right off the hop. So here’s what your 2015-16 Las Vegas team could look like:

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Eric Brewer hopes to help turn around the Prince George Cougars

Prince-George-Cougars

Eric Brewer and Dan Hamhuis are old hands at the NHL game. Both are veteran defenseman out of British Columbia and both played their junior hockey with the Prince George Cougars. Now, as part of a new ownership group, Brewer and Hamhuis are hoping to help their old Western League team out of the doldrums and back to glory.

“It’s a city where the team and the organization has room for improvement,” Brewer said. “We want to re-establish the team.”

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Charles Wang sells Islanders, retains majority stake for two-year transition

Rory Boylen
Charles Wang

The New York Islanders have picked up Malkin!

Or more accurately, Malkin has picked up the Islanders.

The New York Islanders have announced a new ownership structure for the team, after former Washington Capitals co-owner Jonathan Ledecky and London-based investor Scott Malkin purchased a “substantial” minority interest in the team.

From the Islanders:

Under the terms of the agreement, Charles Wang will continue as majority shareholder and Governor of the Islanders, with the Ledecky/Malkin group transitioning to majority owner in two years. Read more

Dragons’ Den entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson joins up with Canadian Women’s Hockey League

Adam Proteau
Arlene Dickinson

The planet’s only professional hockey league for women got a notable boost Wednesday when the Canadian Women’s Hockey League added Arlene Dickinson – wildly successful businesswoman, author, philanthropist, and TV personality on CBC’s Dragons’ Den reality investment show – to its board of directors.

Since its inception in 2007, the five-team CWHL has been making slow-but-steady inroads in the business community, but the presence on the board (which also includes Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke, CBC analyst Cassie Campbell-Pascal and Trina Crosby, mother of Sidney Crosby) of Dickinson, a savvy venture capitalist and master marketer, can only accelerate that process. Anyone who’s seen her operate on Dragon’s Den has seen a thoughtful woman well-connected to the world around her and someone passionate about more than just making a buck.

Considering the CWHL is still not close to paying its players a livable salary, there’s no way Dickinson is working with the league because its teams are about to turn a profit. She’s in it because it’s an organization that empowers women, and she’s aiming to ensure it prospers. Read more

Gary Bettman got a raise after the lockout and it’s not shocking

Ryan Kennedy
Gary-Bettman

While GMs and fans obsess over how much money they can afford to give P.K. Subban or Ryan Johansen, it seems as though the owners have no problem giving commissioner Gary Bettman a pay bump, no matter the circumstance.

According to Chris Botta of SportsBusiness Journal, Bettman was paid $8.8 million in salary and benefits for the 2012-13 season, despite the fact the campaign was truncated by a lockout. As Sean Leahy of Puck Daddy noted, that was an increase in benefits from the 2011-12 fiscal year when Bettman made $8.3 million.

The immediate reaction in the blogosphere to this news was one of mirth: Is Bettman really worth more than Steven Stamkos or Drew Doughty? This will be an unpopular sentiment, but yeah, he is…to the owners.

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