There are five tradeable asset classes in the NHL right now:
1. Budget dollars
2. Cap space that a team has available to it
3. Players currently on the team active pro-roster
4. Prospects and minor league/international league players
5. Draft picks
The value of each asset class on that list varies by team. The one most people forget about is the BUDGET. A team that can only spend $44 mill a year is operating at a competitive disadvantage to any team that can spend even $1 more.
Ex. Tampa Bay's budget dollars may be the most valuable asset category for that team going forward as they are expected to have a budget that is lower than the anticipated Cap level for 2007/08.
While the value of each asset in an asset class can vary greatly each individual asset is still impacted by the status of their asset class as a whole. One asset class can also be used to leverage another.
Ex. Richards (Tampa Bay again) is a better roster player asset than Boyle but at double the salary Richards may be too expensive to keep. Ergo, Boyle's value in his asset class may be higher than that of Richards.
Ex. San Jose leveraged Salary Cap space in the 2006/07 year: acquiring Malakhov from New Jerseyin exchange for extra draft assets. As Malakhov did not actually have to be paid a salary San Jose got a draft asset for, almost, free.
Teams that understand how these dynamics work are operating at a competitive advantage to teams that do not. Understanding how to manipulate the differences in these asset classes is the key to success.
It is why Philadelphia won the Pitkanen sweepstakes, why the DiPietro contract makes so much sense and why the Phillips contract portends doom for small-budget teams.
It is why the different inflation trends of the NHL matter so much and why a $52 million dollar Cap might destroy the NHL as we know it (a future post - don't wait up).
All of this is, of course, my opinion only. I say all of it, in this particular post, so that everyone who comes to this site knows what I am referring to in future posts that I make. All of this may also be patently obvious to everyone, in which case I apologize for wasting your time.
Have a great evening everyone.