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I Predict Sticker Shock

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Don Waddell once bragged after signing Byron Dafoe in mid-season that he likes to shop discount or something to that effect. Well, those days are over. If the Thrashers are going to land any of the top end UFA this summer such as Brian Campbell they will likely have to pay a forture.

Two factors are at work here. First there is the perception that Atlanta is not a winning franchise. OK, it is more than a perception it is a fact, thus far. Kevin Allen mentioned this on NHL Live this week. The Thrashers will likely have to pay MORE than a franchise that has been competitive in recent years. Call it the "losers premium"--it the price you pay for screwing up over and over again.

The second factor is that the NHL revenues were unexpectedly robust this last season and the cap rose even faster than most outsiders anticipated. With the cap sitting at $57.7, teams like the Flyers, Rangers, Bruins, and Avalanche will probably spend almost every dime. That means that there is more money chasing a small class of free agents--which in Econ 101 we learned means inflationary pressures on prices.

I expect that the top end free agents are going to sign for amounts that will shock the senses. There will likely be a bidding war that results in Hossa making close to $9 million per season or Campbell getting $8 per season.

Many GMs, columnists and fans will express shock and amazement but it is very simple--hockey revenues are up sharply and that means the players get more money under the CBA. But one thing we have learned is that the new money will go to star level guys. There are many checkers out there and thus little pressure on their salaries (i.e. price) while there is only one Mats Sundin and only one Marian Hossa.