We will all be missing this. And It will suck. Alot.
Okay, now that the NHL has officially been locked out, we know what will happen. The players who are waiver exempt and those with two-way contracts are going to be playing in the AHL. Others like Ilya Kovalchuk are going to be playing overseas in other leagues, such as the KHL. While I don`t know if Jeff Vanderbeek and the rest of the Devils front office shared the same view as all the other owners, they`re also affected by the lockout as well. And of course, we, the fans are affected because we don`t get to watch our hockey team play.
With all that being said, there`s a lot of stuff to talk about regarding the Devils and the lockout. Most of it is bad, but there is some good.
The Players Lose
First off, we all know the Players are losing. Not only are they without jobs, but those that are able to find a place to play aren`t going to be making as much money as they normally would. Take Ilya Kovalchuk for example. He`s set to make $11 million this year if there was a season. However, he`s only set to make 65% of that if he`s playing with the KHL, or $7.15 Million. Sure, because he`s making a lot of money, that $3.85 Million might not seem like a lot. However, that`s a lot of money he`s missing out on. Even if the lockout goes on for a few months, he still misses out on a lot of money. And that goes for the rest of the team. Playing in the KHL/Swiss league is an option, but they'll be making less than they'd normally lose.
It`s not only the big guys that lose. Ryan Lambert pointed out that Stephen Gionta`s feel good story will have a bit of an unfortunate plot twist- now that he has a one-way contract, he was ineligible for the special waiver period for players with two-way contracts. If there was no lockout, Gionta would be earning a bigger paycheck AND playing on an NHL team. Now he's not able to play hockey and he's missing out on the biggest paycheck he's earned to date. And it's worse for Gionta, seeing as he hasn't been making lots of money his entire career.
While some can play, they won't be playing in the top hockey league in the world. They also won't be making as much money as they normally would.
The Organization Itself Loses
Now on to the Devils organization itself. We all know they're losing money. What happens if there's a lockout and they have no ticket and merchandise sales? They won't make any money. Of course, they won't have to pay the players, but if they have no profit, the debt situation will get worse. Those missed profits could be huge. The last thing they want to be doing right now is losing money. Maybe this means that Vanderbeek is one of the few owners who wants to try and end the lockout faster? Maybe not, as he could be one of the owners who wants more money. Who knows. But right now, he's gotta be itching for some profits so that he can try and pay off the debt.
Local Businesses Lose
It's important to point this one out. The Star Ledger mentions that if the Devils are locked out, many businesses close to the Prudential center will take a hit. That's an unfortunate side effect of the lockout.
The Albany Devils Don't Lose From the Lockout
The Devils farm team, the Albany Devils. The worst case scenario is the best case scenario for the A-Devs, simply because if guys like Adam Henrique and Adam Larsson aren't playing for the big club, they'll be making them a better hockey team. Sure, plenty of other teams will be adding NHL talent via players on entry level contracts, such as the Edmonton Oilers (Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Schultz, Eberle), but even then, the Devils are ahead of a lot of eastern conference [and NHL] teams with regards to the talent being sent down. The Albany Devils will be a good team and that will mean that they'll be able to try and grow their fan base.
The only drawback is that if the best case scenario for the NJ Devils happens (the lockout isn't very long), the A-Devs won't be able to benefit from having young, proven NHL talent on their team.Of course, this is usually the case for minor league teams, as talent comes and goes more frequently for them.
Contract Negotiations for 2013 UFAs and RFAs- The Good
Several Devils have expiring contracts at the end of the 2012-13 season- Travis Zajac, David Clarkson, Dainius Zubrus, Patrik Elias, Marek Zidlicky, Peter Harrold, Adam Henrique (RFA), Jacob Josefson (RFA) and Mattias Tedenby (RFA). If there's no hockey season, it will definitely affect how certain players' contracts will be negotiated. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. The good is that because there's no season, it becomes easier to negotiate contracts with certain players. Take David Clarkson for example- if he has another great year, he could be worth more than what the Devils would want to pay him. Because that's not the case, the Devils can probably retain him at a price they want. This also applies to RFAs. Inking Mattias Tedenby and/or Jacob Josefson to a cheap second contract means that they can keep those two for cheap. If they have a breakout year while they're on their second contracts, that's great.
Contract Negotiations for 2013 UFAs and RFAs- The Bad
The bad news is that I don't think players and GMs will be able to negotiate contracts during the lockout. If that's the case and the lockout goes the entire year, the Devils might not have as much time to re-sign important UFAs, while other teams might come in and poach them.
Another thing to note is that if the lockout results in a shortened season, there's more chances for players to ride an unsustainable percentage to a career high. What if Travis Zajac shoots at 17 or 18% and ends up scoring goals at a very high rate? He'll likely find his way out of the Devils price range, and get more money from another team. It's happened before (see: Ville Leino), so it's not like it's out of the question.
On Patrik Elias and Dainius Zubrus' contracts
While they aren't getting any younger, those two are still important pieces for the team. They'll help the younger players learn and they can still contribute quite a lot on the ice.There may be some concern about whether or not they stay. With Zubrus, he'll likely be one of the first Devils to re-sign if he does re-sign with the team. With Elias, it's unlikely that he finishes his NHL career with another team. I'm not too worried about those two.
If there's an amnesty clause for buyouts after the lockout, it could help the Devils quite a bit just because they'll get Anton Volchenkov's contract off the books. Considering that the Devils have way too many defenseman on the roster, it will be huge. With the likelihood of Marek Zidlicky re-signing with the Devils being somewhat low, the current logjam on D will become more favourable, and it will allow for some of the younger defensemen in the AHL like Alexander Urbom and Eric Gelinas to compete for a roster spot the next year.
Support Other Hockey Teams
Just because there's no NHL hockey doesn't mean that you can't watch hockey. Instead, show your support for a local junior team, or make a trip to see a division 1 NCAA team or major junior (if you live in Canada/Michigan/Northwest US) team play. At least that way you can get your hockey fix.
Gary Bettman doesn't get paid during the lockout
Well, that's one silver lining to the lockout.