Eric Daoust breaks down a recent trade he made in his fantasy hockey league.



Following a championship season in the UHL, my team found itself in a tough financial position. We use player cap hits and the NHL’s cap ceiling as our own salary cap. With the maximum dropping to $64.3 million I knew it would be a summer of chopping down a couple salaries to get the team out of trouble. I am going to outline a trade that I made a few weeks ago both from my perspective and the other team’s perspective.


League Setup

Fantrax league - 24 Teams
H2H Roto – G, A, +/-, PIM, SOG, GWG, PPP, SHP, HIT, BLK, FOW, W, GAA, SV, SV%, SO
Roster: 3 LW, 3 C, 3 RW, 3 F, 6 D, 1 G, 4 BN

Farm Roster: 27 slots (eligibility is anyone less than 160 career GP) – these players do not count towards the salary cap

Depending on some of the re-signings and potential amnesty buyouts on the NHL front, I was estimating that my team would be $8-10 million over cap. On May 2 I executed the following trade:

I give: Erik Cole ($4,500,000), James Reimer ($1,800,000)
I receive: Matt Read ($900,000), Richard Clune ($537,500)

The breakdown, from my perspective:

  • Selling high on Reimer
  • Selling low on Cole, but getting rid of his contract
  • Buying low on Read, who is an excellent all-around player minus the PIM category
  • Buying Clune for less than I feel he is worth

This was a difficult trade to make because of Reimer’s incredible season and his impact on getting my team through the playoffs as my other goalie, Roberto Luongo, spent a lot of time on the bench. But with Luongo likely to be a starter somewhere (and maybe bought out and signed at a lower cap hit) I felt that it was a good time to sell high on the Leafs’ netminder, even if it is tough to do initially.

In Read I receive one of the best cap bargains in the league. He had an off year partially due to an injury that he played through after missing only a few games. He is a well-balanced producer in this kind of league with above-average numbers in several categories. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and will surely get a pretty good raise but by that time the salary cap ceiling will likely rise again. I am hoping that it will give me enough free space to afford him.

In Clune I receive one of the most productive agitators in the league who happens to have a cap hit close to the league minimum. He has been an excellent Jordin Tootoo replacement in Nashville and even produces a few points in addition to his hits and PIM. In addition, Clune is minors eligible in this league which gives me a lot of flexibility in roster management for next season.

In order to replace Reimer on my main roster I traded a late draft pick (almost insignificant) for Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who carries a cap hit of $1,500,000. This was simply a salary dump for the other team. Giguere is not a long-term solution to my backup position but the trade cost was minimal and his reunion with goalie coach Francois Allaire is intriguing. He has been good for more than 30 games per season in recent years as a backup.

On the other hand, the GM receiving Reimer and Cole also benefits from the trade. Even though he bought Reimer at the peak of his value, there is no denying that he played like a starting goaltender this year. He also gets Cole who despite his higher cap hit has been a roto league beast as recently as last year when he scored 35 goals with the Montreal Canadiens. If Cole can recapture some of that magic he could still be a good value player to own.

Unexpected Event

A few days ago the Maple Leafs acquired goalie Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings. The impact on Reimer’s value is devastating as Bernier is now the golden boy in Toronto. It also helps validate the move to sell Reimer while his value was at its highest.

Even though Reimer now faces his biggest challenge for playing time, he is not a dead asset by any means. Bernier is still unproven with any kind of heavy workload and if Reimer can continue to produce like he did this year he could keep the starting gig and remain a great fantasy contributor.

Final Verdict

Initially, it made me feel sick to move Reimer. He was a key contributor in my championship run which made it difficult to pull the trigger. Seeing Bernier dealt to the Leafs makes me feel a lot better. It is still not certain how things will play out but Reimer’s chances of being a long-term starter in Toronto took a major hit. Selling high is all about playing the percentages. Even without the Bernier trade, Reimer was in tough to repeat his numbers from this year.

The other GM did well to use some of his own cap space to make a trade with a team that has to shed salaries. And even though Reimer’s value takes a hit, he remains a goalie with a proven track record of good statistics that is a potential starting goaltender moving forward. This could still work out very well in his favor.

In the end, this trade along with the subsequent acquisition of Giguere gives me a cap saving of about $4 million. This takes me about half way to my goal of getting under cap for the start of the season.  While cutting some payroll I managed to pick up a pair of very affordable forwards who are strong contributors in this kind of league.

Overall the goal was to get back as much quality as possible while making these salary cuts. In Read and Clune I feel like I was able to do that. Neither one is at the elite level but both should be good support players as I try to defend my title in this ultra-competitive league.

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