Larry Brooks is officially on my personal ‘NHL is Too Big’ bandwagon. The league is looking to expand into two more markets (the NHL as Starbucks approach to a league), but Brooks says the active roster should drop down to 20 per game (from 23), with 16 players dressed per game (down from 18). As Brooks points out, two expansion teams would bring 46 players into the NHL and it’s a safe bet they wouldn’t be 46 Joe Sakics. I’ve long felt rolling four lines is a luxury more than a necessity. It makes coaches figure out how to spread out time, rather than thinking strategy. Sure, if you’ve got an older team, you need to spread minutes, but if you only had three lines, maybe teams wouldn’t be so hot for veteran players who can’t handle 20 minutes a game.
And it would make things much better for players. The Rangers traded center Matt Cullen back to Carolina to free up cap space. But if the Rangers only had three lines, he would have been a keeper, with plenty of money under the cap to keep him. Heck. They could have probably even given him a raise. Instead, the Rangers had to trade a strong player for the sake of salary, and a player who wanted to stay in New York had to leave.