Why bands (teams) break up
For NHL teams, their window to win a Stanley Cup lasts only so long, mostly for a couple of reasons. Here are two in play this season:
Salary cap: Since the 2004-05 lockout spurred a salary cap, teams have been forced to make difficult financial decisions. The cap, dependent on revenue generated by the teams, has remained relatively flat in recent years, partly due to the decline of the Canadian dollar. It's $73 million this season. For successful teams, young players continue to get more expensive, pricing themselves out faster. Just ask the Blackhawks, who have had the likes of forwards Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp, and goalie Antti Niemi, among others, depart in recent years, in trades or free agency, for cap reasons. Of course, winning three Cups since 2010 has eased that pain in Chicago.
Expansion draft: The addition of a Las Vegas franchise for the 2017-18 season has added a new wrinkle, an expansion draft to be held in June. Each club has the option of protecting seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters (a mix of forwards/defensemen) and one goalie. That's going to be tough for many teams, especially considering players with no-movement contract clauses have to be protected.
Joe Smith, Times staff writer