It is obvious that they have to divide their resources between what the core/"pro" audience want from the game and what the casuals want. From what I gathered from the interview, they do realize franchise mode isn't necessarily a thing that the players in NHLGamer want (for example), but it is in an informed decision made to please a broader audience. What I do like, is this year they've really put the spotlight on gameplay and improving gameplay, which is something - I would assume - most people here want.
Both of the sections I have bolded are also monetized, so they would still need to make money somehow, which make these two ideas feel mutually exclusive. If NHL isn't released every year, they would need to increase monetized content (HUT content etc).