Here’s what we know from the previous lockout. In 2003-04, there were 1,010 players with at least one game played. Research shows 240 of them (23.8 percent) never played another game in the NHL after the lockout was settled. About half were bit players (114 skaters with 20 or fewer games). Among the rest were aging vets on the cusp of retirement – Scott Stevens, Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Al MacInnis and Adam Oates.
The number 240 sounds like a lot, but it’s largely natural turnover yearly. How does this compare to any given season? We took 2008-09 as a random example. There were 974 players who played at least one game in the NHL. Of those, 138 (or 14.2 percent) never played another game in the NHL. The bulk of natural turnover are cup-of-coffee guys who play a few games, but never make it back again. A much smaller number are guys who retire or return to Europe.
In 2011-12, there were 983 players who played at least one game in the NHL. Because of natural turnover, we can project 14.2 percent of them (139 players) won’t play again in the NHL. No big deal, it happens every season. But using the 2004-05 lockout as a case study, we can predict another 9.6 percent (the difference between 23.8 percent and 14.2) or 95 more players – like 38-year-old Sergei Gonchar in the last year of a big contract – won’t be back for 2013-14.
So, it appears on average that about 140 players (about 4 players per team) never play in the NHL "next season" -- general turn over, many being "cup of coffee" type players, and the others due to age and injury (or head/return to Europe).
But another 9+% percent "lost their edge" and retired after the 04-05 lockout.
However, that does not take into consideration the issue of some of those older players perhaps "demanding" larger contracts and teams not able/interested in signing them (preferring to use cheaper players), which may exasperate the situation.
With natural attrition and a wide definition of what is a NHL player, a pretty big chunk of those that won't play another NHL game after the lockout most likely wouldn't have played another game without a lockout.
I know what they are trying to say but it's a little bit too much statistical smoke and mirrors to work for me.
I think when thinking of player losses from work stoppage lost paychecks is a better measurement.