The construction and maintenance of an NHL roster has always been a fascination of mine. Why do teams keep the players they do? How do they determine a player's worth? I'm sure there are an infinite number of factors that go into the answering these questions, but let's for a second glance at exactly how each team has allocated their resources.
To be completely honest, this chart really doesn't answer anything. However, it does provide some interesting insight to which teams have failed, or succeeded, at distributing their investments. Mulling over the results though, a reliable coach appears to be a necessity.
I have ordered the teams according to current standings. In parenthesis, next to the team's abbreviations, I have listed their rank in accordance with overall money spent. Each column represents the number of players making over that specific million-dollar amount. Here's what I found (all figures are from CapGeek.com):
First, I'm going to break down this chart into four categories: Great Successes, Good Spenders, Get What You Pay For, Failures. I'm defining each category by comparing the top 16 spenders with the current playoff teams. Great Successes are teams who spend the least, but currently hold a playoff position. Good Spenders are the top 16 payrolls in the same boat. Get What You Pay For are the most frugal and least successful teams. And Failures are those that spend a ton with bad results.
Detroit Red Wings
New York Rangers
New Jersey Devils
Toronto Maple Leafs
San Jose Sharks
Get What You Pay For:
New York Islanders
Los Angeles Kings
Columbus Blue Jackets
Tampa Bay Lightning
It's clear that the Eastern Conference is much better at allocating their resources than the Western Conference. It possesses seven of the top eight payrolls in the league and of those seven teams, five are currently in a playoff position. However, only two of the top seven payrolls in the Western Conference can say the same.
The Washington Capitals are the only team to invest almost one-fifth of their payroll in a single player. It doesn't look as though this has been advantageous for them. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Blues are the only team in the league without a player making more than $5 million. They seem to be doing just fine with that setup, although the addition of Ken Hitchcock does make a big difference.
Of the 11 teams that employ at least ten individuals who make less than $1 million, seven are currently playoff bound.
In the East, there are 11 players who make more than $7 million a year. In the West, there are six. Half of those players in each conference are on a team in the top 16.
The Nashville Predators have the least amount of money invested in their team and they're currently sitting in 7th place in the Western Conference. The Washington Capitals invested the most and now hold the 11th position in the Eastern Conference. The Predators play in the Central Division. Currently, that division has four playoff teams. In the Southeast Division, where the Capitals are located, only one team claims a spot.
Of the top eight salaries in the league, seven are currently in a playoff position. The lone spender out: Montreal. To be fair, if we extend the top salaries to ten teams, Los Angeles and Calgary join the Canadiens.
If they're willing, there are a ton of teams in the Western Conference that could spend a little extra money to gain an edge. This likely won't be the case as teams are content with their current, successful rosters. However, if there should be a slip in momentum, especially as the trade deadline approaches, expect some additions to be made.
This will be a chart I adjust as the season continues, so look for updates!