Those players generated on FA are likely completely random, including their hidden potential. When they get a generated with a much higher overall than their potential would otherwise allow, that's when they don't develop or start dropping for no apparent reason.
It's also the very nature of simulations to come across as random sometimes. Under normal conditions, I'd say any given team within a league has at least a 20% chance of winning any other team within that league on any given night. That percentage is an extreme example, and even that leaves quite a bit of room for upsets.
And the better (player quality) team wins more often than it loses. For that I've some stats derived from the Biscuit power rankings over the 5 full seasons it's been there. Bearing in mind the power rankings only take into account player overalls, and there is always much more at play.
67,5% of available playoff spots have been filled with top-8 teams.
Regular season winners have been ranked: 1st, 1st, 1st, 10th, 2nd.
Cup winners have been ranked: 1st, 7th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd.
The take is small, but it gives a hint as to that the materially best teams do prevail most of the time over a long enough time frame.
tldr, I think this game does a pretty good job when it comes to better teams winning games. There is always the random element that is present in sim games, as it should be.
CPU teams can offer contracts to prospects. You still hold the rights until 21. You can offer a contract to your prospect that is signed with a cpu team at any time, and he'll join your team at the start of the next season.
Human managers can't offer contracts to prospects they don't have rights to.
Edit: It appears that gators type faster than cats.
Personally, I haven't given much thought to reputation when drafting.
Mostly I pay attention to how players have progressed in their past season(s), as well as their performance and stats. There are sometimes prospects that look lucrative on draft day because of overall etc, but might have very slow development, and in the worst case never be ready for a roster spot.
We all help each other so its normal to see sometimes trades that help more a team then a other one. I promess that we play fair.
Just to comment on this point here - multiple teams working together for the benefit of a single team is not fair competition, separate managers or not. If there is a closer bond between managers, like family, it can't be a factor in trades.
While probably everyone agrees helping out family members is a great thing, in competitive online sports manager games that help should be limited to giving advice etc. instead of direct aid, for example biased trades.
tldr: For reasons of fairness towards other managers, "family" is not a valid reason to base transactions on in a game such as this.
I actually think 6,5 is a very reasonable contract for a player of that caliber (10M is pushing it of course). For what it's worth, I think all top players should make 6+ million as a rule of thumb. Of course we're very far from that atm.
Playoffs are here and contract extensions are happening again, so I'll keep at this.
Today in Biscuit GHL 9 players signed an extension - 7 of them took a pay cut.
A highlight from that bunch: 22yo, 96ovr d-man, on an already cheap contract, is fine with an extension that lowers his salary by ~16%. Why would a young superstar coming off a good season ever agree to something like that?
Depending on some game results tonight, the last playoff spot(s) may be decided by the last game of the season between Cats and Grizzlies, with the possibility of a spot being on the line for both teams.
Another magic number: Of all the current GHL teams (that have been in playoffs in the past), Stray Cats hold the enviable record of the longest playoff drought, with the latest (and only) appearance in S7.