Monday was the time for many NHL teams to don a new look (yet again, after the introduction of the new Reebok Edge uniforms) and cut down their rosters to close to what they will look like on opening day. For many years past, specifically before the new collective bargaining agreement, training camp was a time for veterans to get in shape before the games began to count, and it was also a time for young players to make an impression on the coaching staff and audition for a possible call-up later in the season.
But now, during the newly introduced cap-era new NHL, training camp is a whole other beast. Just as the off-season has changed to have more turn-around amongst teams and players, so too has training camp. Most NHL teams which are willing to spend to be in contention have one or two players that are payed close to the max that a player can be payed. These high salaries in the past would not have been an issue, however now with a cap, high top-end salaries do not leave much room for veteran player signings to fill in the bottom-end voids.
After Monday's cuts, it's easy to see that teams are adapting to adopt a new system in the NHL. Team which have spots up for grabs, now do not look to free agents to fill those voids as free agents are commanding high (sometimes ridiculous - look at Philly's recent signings) salaries. Team's now are leaning towards filling the voids from within. And these players from within are turning out to be young draft picks. The new NHL prides itself on speed and skill and players coming out of junior, college and from overseas are those typical types of players. Not only do young players have the skill and speed to make their respective NHL teams, they have the skill and are being given the opportunity to make the team and make an impact.
The most extreme example would be Sidney Crosby but he, like Ryan Getzlaf and Jordan Staal is a special case. Take a look at this year's NHL cuts and who made what team. The Chicago Blackhawks have their number one draft picks from the last two years, Patrick Kane and Jonahthan Toews, suiting up. The Columbus Blue Jacktes are icing Jared Boll and defenseman Kris Russell. The Montreal Canadiens goaltending prospect Carey Price beat out last year's backup Jaroslav Halak for a job with the big club. Little Sam Gagner and David Perron have been given a chance to make a big impacts with the Oilers and Blues respectively and the Vancouver Canucks are dressing speedster Mason Raymond out of Boston College on their opening night.
It may be that the kids are getting better as the years go by, but I think that it's fair to see that the great talented youth are now finally being given the looks that they deserve because they are able to play in a non-clutching and grabbing, fast league which calls for good salary management.