Dilution of talent in the NHL is the biggest myth in hockey perpetuated by fans that follow perpetually losing teams or fans going on a 'trap' rant. As a life long fan of a team that has spent half its existance as one of those teams to a perpetual power house I've lived both parts of that fairy tale.
What exactly does expansion mean to my team? I'll lose 2-3 depth players maybe 1-2 marginal prospects. Each round of the draft I could probably slide down 1-2 spots otherwise (probably only significant for the first 2 rounds). That's it. What happens afterwards is a few vets stick around a few more seasons, a few kids make the leap sooner and after a few years things are back to normal (for arguments sake say 1 player career cycle or 5-6 years) If your team hasn't adjusted by then you should blame your organization.
The difference between players today and just ten years ago. Prospects are drafted way better prepared mentally and physically with better coaching. Americans in the league have gone from 15-25% and rising. Unknown hockey nations like Slovenia, Denmark, France, and Kazitstan et al are not only producing players but stars. Also since drafting is basically a volume buisness more kids get a chance to get discovered and developed. 14 kids a year. And with teams putting more emphisis on developing they prospects properly should close that 'diluted talent' window even shorter.
When there is even one (there are several every year) NHL ready player being sent back to junior or the minors and with NHL regulars and recent high first rounders like Hickey and Grabner (major robery, Florida is stupid) getting picked up on waivers then I would argue against any dilution of talent.
Just remember, football is 80% mental and 40% physical.
Little Giants (1994) – Steve Emtman