What the Preds do -- and don't -- teach us
Even in the salary-cap era, money matters a lot. It's not quite like Major League Baseball, in which the biggest spenders have a payroll five times that of small-market teams; in the NHL, the difference between the high and low spenders is usually only about $10 million. Still, the correlation coefficient between payroll and wins is 0.59. (A perfect correlation is 1 or minus-1.)
Nerd translation: Spend more, win more.
But since the lockout -- which established the salary cap -- the exception to that rule has been the Nashville Predators. They've been called the "Moneyball" team of the NHL, and Preds GM David Poile has a reputation as a smart man.
So it caught our eye when, in a recent USA Today story, Poile said the key to his success is threefold: drafting well, building a strong farm system and identifying free-agent bargains. Notice that two of these three items are about player discovery and development -- not money.
That said, we wanted to see whether the Predators have actually drafted and developed well, because something they do has allowed them to overcome a $10 million disadvantage. By looking at this aspect of Nashville's organization, we may be able to see how much of its success is due to player discovery and how much is due to other factors.
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