NEW YORK — For more than a decade, NHL players have been using social media to organize fan bases for upcoming games, but with more than half of the league’s players being expatriated, many are concerned that the NHL could lose its appeal as a means to get fans to the game.
The expansion draft is the only time the league will allow players to leave their countries, but many of the current players have expressed a desire to stay.
“I am not averse to it, I am just worried about the future,” said defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who recently relocated to California.
Many players are concerned the expansion draft could be a lost opportunity for fans, who would be stuck watching the games at home without a team.
A player’s nationality can influence his ability to sign for a team, but it can also influence the value of a player in the league, Shattenkeirk said.
If the league doesn’t offer a draft pick, it could become a losing proposition for players, especially when it comes to free agents.
For instance, in 2018-19, only three players played for an NHL team: forwards Nicklas Backstrom, Justin Schultz and Andrei Markov.
It could also lead to a reduction in the number of NHL players who can earn a contract.
The NHL has a goal of having 15 teams by 2022.
If that goal isn’t met, players would be more likely to move to the National Hockey League or to the ECHL, according to the Players’ Union of Canada.
There are also concerns about a decline in NHL players’ salaries because they don’t have a contract, a lack of representation and a lack for players to speak out against their team.
The National Hockey Association is looking at the draft to determine how many players will be left in the NHL after the 2020-21 season, league sources told ESPN.
Even if the draft picks were distributed evenly among all 32 teams, the expansion of the National Basketball Association to the East and the expansion to the West could leave many of its players without a contract and a place to play, according the union.
As the NHL tries to maintain its popularity, it has struggled to find a way to retain its players who are expatriating, according Toivonen.
Teams need to be creative and not just sell them on staying in a market, he said.
“It’s like a lottery, and you have to have the right people to win.
So if the lottery doesn’t work, they need to do something else,” Toivinen said.