The average NHL player as a whole has never been better then now. Sports evolve, and you may argue that less teams= less diluted talent, but everyone seems to forget that back even in the 80's the league was over 90% NA.
There is a much bigger pool to draw from today. This is the reason the league has a lot more top guys, but no truly elite guys that stand miles ahead of everyone like Lemueix and Gretzky did. The vast increase in youth leagues/training, as well as far more balanced nutrition and talent pool to draw from has made for far more player parity then you could ever imagine.
You're going to call me insane, but I would honestly be shocked if Boyd Deverauex as he is now would not have been a consistent all-star in the 50s. The conditioning, speed, and overall talent of all the players will continue to improve, its just the natural way a sport grows. Do you really think the quality of game has suffered? If so, I suggest you get your nostalgia glasses off, and watch how easy it was for skill players to dominate in the 80s. Slow-ass defensemen and non-butterfly goaltending... yeah real challenging.
Just because the talent pool is bigger doesn't mean we should be putting a hockey team in a desert!
I suppose if the NHL made wiser re-location decisions in the past I might be ok with a 30 team league, but frankly every team has 4 or 5 players that are temporary plugs at best.
From a players perspective it's great because they keep the dream alive, but from a fans perspective it's like...WTF are some of these guys doing here?