3rd and 4th best teams? Now you have lost your mind! USA and the country up north are the top 2. There is no question about this. The only thing that makes it even close is the bigger ice, which the euros are far more familiar with. There are reasons why Canada has had 445 player play in the NHL this year, the US has had 200, then followed in distant 3rd Sweden had 57, Czech republic has 33, Russia 29, and Finland 20.
Doubt that this happens. The Euros all have other leagues they can play in and will for one year. The NA players don't, so if it appears that the US and Canada are going to get hammered, pressure will rise and they will play.
Some have mentioned the amount of cap space we have this off season. yes that is true. But what good is it? None in UFA-there are only a couple of UFA's worth anything and the chances they all come here is slim. In other words, plenty of cash and no place to spend it. baring trades. Which we seem unable to do lately.
Franze a big goal scorer? LOL 1 season in 9 where he had over 30 goals. 1. That is not a big goal scorer, that is average. But he can be bought out, and hopefully that now happens. Get out from his terrible contract this summer.
2014 is a weak draft, but that doesn't mean there isn't talent. Last year there was 7 or 8 can't miss types, then 60-70 guys that all had a question about them but should be top 5 players on most teams in 5-7 years. This years draft has 3/4 can't miss types and about 35 guys that should be top 5 players on most teams. The depth just isn't here this year. Now 2015 looks like it will be better. That draft looks like it is very top heavy but we will see next year......
Something else to watch and keep in mind over the next couple of years. The new CBA changed-lowered, the number of years guys can be hid in the minors before they have to clear waivers. IIRC it went from 5 years to 3 years. This pretty much kills the old RW stand by of "overripening". This might push more guys into college hockey. before most guys got drafted, played 1 more year of junior, then played in the minors for up to 5 years. meaning teams had control for 6 years before they got to the NHL. Now teams have 4 years for most guys. Final year in junior and 3 years in the minors. if players start heading to college more, you still can control guys for 6 years. 3 in college and 3 in the minors. overseas players are not affected of course.