The ink is still fresh on a contract extension that sees Los Angeles Kings star center Anze Kopitar become the third-highest paid player in the NHL. Kopitar remains on the list of well-compensated Kings players that includes stud defenceman Drew Doughty and number one goalie Jonathan Quick among others. NHL insider Elliotte Friedman tells Boomer & Warrener on the SN960 morning show the team also seems set on trying to re-sign power forward Milan Lucic, their big offseason acquisition. Friedman says the Kings are setting a tone that other cap teams may start to follow in terms of the salary structure of a winning NHL squad; a small handful of superstars with corresponding big money contracts, with the majority of the roster filled out with players earning less than $1 million per season.
“I wonder if that’s where we’re going. You’re going to have seven or eight guys making a fortune, and 11 guys on the low end of the NHL totem pole. I think that’s where LA’s probably headed – seven or eight guys making big money, and 10 or 12 guys who are interchangeable and making a million dollars or less. That’s how the best teams are going to play it.”
The Chicago Blackhawks are coming off their third Stanley Cup in five season, and follow a similar model. Friedman says the “flattening out” of the NHL’s salary cap is partly responsible for the changing dynamic, and that this is the type of change that was foreseen during the lockout of 2004.