Has tanking increased? Yes, absolutely.
The salary cap also probably factors in. Teams (those in a position to do so) can't spend their way out of a lack of young talent / poor drafting. Makes high end prospects worth that much more.
I think this is part of it. I think the real root causes stem from the consequences of the modern CBA.
Long term contracts designed to fit under the cap drastically reduced the number of UFAs. GMs can't rely on the dried up UFA market to improve their teams every year.
This has occurred because players don't hold out and leave for "big" money as much anymore. The combination of revenue sharing and salary cap has enabled most teams to afford to keep their best players.
Trading has changed as a result of the CBA. Because teams are on a more even playing field financially, teams generally don't salary dump good players. Only underperforming players get dumped, trading them doesn't directly improve your team, and trading for them means you hurt your own cap.
Without the financial aspect involved in good player trades, the only way to trade for player talent is to trade away player talent or picks. So you must spend players to get players. If you don't want to do that, you leverage your future picks.
The only way to acquire elite talent without giving up current talent is to draft or or trade draft picks. In either case, teams benefit from good draft position.
So if you're not going to the playoffs, and you don't want to trade your existing talent, your best move is to better your draft positon. Mostly because you can't rely on UFAs.
Edited by IKnowPhysics, 24 February 2018 - 06:57 PM.