BrendanGallagher


Daoust provides some strategies for finding the next wave of salary cap bargains.

 

As we saw last week, a league's scoring setup can have a huge impact on which players stand out as the most productive. In some instances, there are numerous cheap options that stand among the league's best. Owning some of them puts you at a huge advantage when assembling your team and, if you are in win-now mode, it may not be possible to be league champion without a few of them. Here is the league setup used for your case study and the high-level cap bargains in this particular format:


United Hockey League (dynasty)

Scoring setup: Head-to-Head
Teams: 24
Pro Rosters: 23 + 4 IR (3LW, 3C, 3RW, 3F, 6D, 1G, 4BN)
Farm Rosters: 27 + one-year protection for newly-drafted prospects
Categories: G, A, +/-, PIM, SOG, GWG, PPP, SHP, Hit, Blk, FOW, W, GAA, SV, SV%, SO

Note: Centers have more value in this league because it is possible for a team to dress six of them on any given night. Also, using FOW instead of FO% has a significant impact on the value of centermen.


Cap bargain players


Breakout offensive talent

Quality depth players

Defensemen

Atkinson, Cam - CBJ

Backlund, Mikael - CGY

Dillon, Brenden – DAL

Bonino, Nick - ANA

Boyle, Brian – NYR

Faulk, Justin – CAR

Gallagher, Brendan - MON

Couturier, Sean - PHI

Franson, Cody - TOR

Johansen, Ryan - CBJ

Eakin, Cody – DAL

Gudas, Radko – TB

Johnson, Tyler - TB

Eller, Lars – MON

Krug, Torey – BOS

Killorn, Alex - TB

Foligno, Marcus - BUF

Lovejoy, Ben - ANA

Kreider, Chris - NYR

Garbutt, Ryan - DAL

MacDonald, Andrew - NYI

Palat, Ondrej - TB

Goc, Marcel – FLA

Muzzin, Jake – LA

Penner, Dustin - ANA

King, Dwight – LA

Perreault, Mathieu - ANA

Letestu, Mark - CBJ

Saad, Brandon - CHI

Richardson, Brad - VAN

Santorelli, Mike - VAN

Roussel, Antoine - DAL

Scheifele, Mark - WPG

Shaw, Andrew - CHI

Schwartz, Jaden - STL

Smith, Zack – OTT

Smith, Reilly - BOS

Sobotka, Vladimir - STL

Wingels, Tommy - SJ

Zuccarello, Mats - NYR

 

Unfortunately, things change quickly in fantasy hockey. A player that is an essential member of your team financially one day may sign an ugly contract extension that effectively kills his appeal to your roster. With the NHL's salary cap ceiling set to rise significantly over the next few years, you can expect this scenario to play out often.

 

This means that at times you will have to scramble to replace your former discounted producers with new ones. And considering the massive fantasy potential that some of them have, you can put yourself at a major advantage if you can identify upcoming cheap producers before they hit their stride in the NHL. Today we will look at the three categories of bargain multi-category studs and how to identify future candidates that can provide great contributions to your team down the line.


Breakout offensive talent


 

The list of current players in this category consists primarily of graduated prospects still on their entry-level contract as well as slow-developing offensively-gifted players that finally translated their game to the NHL. Given their scoring potential, these players are popular and hold a lot of name value among poolies which makes them difficult to acquire via trade. Instead, you will probably have to obtain them on draft day and, in the case of college free agents, you may have to be first in line when they arrive on your league's waiver wire.

 

While no top prospect should ever be turned away because of his existing entry-level contract or one that he is about to sign, there are some prospects that will cost less for your team to absorb, giving you an excellent bang for the buck when all goes well. Draft position has the biggest impact on the cap hit of the entry-level contract. The top few picks are often close to the maximum and it drops quickly from there. Here is a breakdown of the entry-level cap hits of the top 10 draft picks in each of the last five years:

 

capped pic 2

 

As you can see by looking at the average cap hit for each draft position, the potential for cheap productive players begins after the fifth selection. Granted, players selected at this point are generally not as talented as the earlier picks and there is certainly a greater risk for slow development or total disaster. But those that do develop quickly and meet expectations can make a huge impact on your roster while not costing much against the cap.


Quality depth players

 

As mentioned last week, players scoring at a rate lower than 0.5 points per game qualify for this list. Basically, if they score fewer points they will need more peripheral stats in order to be as valuable all-around as their more offensive-minded counterparts. In essence, this category will contain many of the league's best role players.

 

The bad news is that scouting for peripheral stats among prospects is not an easy task. In most cases only goals, assists, plus-minus and PIM are made available in lower leagues. The available statistics make it easy to scout offensive stars because most of the necessary information is available. With peripheral-heavy guys you are often stuck doing guess work.

 

There are things you can do to make your life easier. For example, there are great clues within scouting reports that help paint the picture of players that are not as hyped but are nonetheless destined to rise through the ranks and become fantasy-relevant. Let's use the current list of depth multi-category studs to see which positive attributes they have in common, using the player bio pages provided by The Hockey News.

 

Backlund, Mikael - CGY

Has very good skating ability, two-way upside and the playmaking skills needed to put up points. A determined player, he can play either center or wing.

Boyle, Brian – NYR

Is an impressive physical specimen with the ability to play a checking role. A natural center, he's versatile enough to be able to play wing (and even defense). Is a tremendous athlete.

Couturier, Sean - PHI

Has outstanding two-way instincts. Is capable of playing a shutdown role with aplomb. Also boasts very good offensive upside and a very projectable frame.

Eakin, Cody – DAL

Works very hard and has two-way savvy. Is a fierce competitor and a versatile forward--capable of playing both center and wing. Has scoring upside and is a clutch performer.

Eller, Lars – MON

A good skater, he doesn't mind playing in high-traffic areas and also displays sound defensive acumen and penalty-killing prowess. Has playmaking skills and creativity, some finish and the versatility to play either center or wing.

Foligno, Marcus - BUF

Has great size for the wing position, as well as power forward potential. Is an industrious winger with a straightforward game. Can score goals, especially from in close.

Garbutt, Ryan - DAL

Has the ability to play a physical brand of hockey. Can also produce solid point totals at lower levels. Doesn't know the meaning of the word 'quit'.

Goc, Marcel – FLA

Has good speed and two-way instincts. Is a capable player in all game situations and displays plenty of versatility. Is also a good face-off man.

King, Dwight – LA

Has great size and the potential to play a dominating physical game in the corners (as well as in front of the opposing goal). Also has a little offensive upside, and he's not bad defensively either.

Letestu, Mark - CBJ

Is a smart offensive pivot with face-off skills and a lot of patience with the puck. Is also an accurate shooter with very good hockey sense. Can play both center and wing, as required.

Richardson, Brad - VAN

Can play all three forward positions and is plenty versatile. Solid defensively, he plays an energy game and can also display physicality, despite modest size. Isn't afraid of mixing it up in the corners and is good on face-offs.

Roussel, Antoine - DAL

A hard worker who plays in-your-face hockey, he likes to crash the boards and dish out hits. Has lower-body strength to win puck battles.

Shaw, Andrew - CHI

Displays a very good work rate and two-way acumen. Enjoys agitating opponents and throwing them off their game. Also displays versatility up front.

Smith, Zack – OTT

Has an excellent frame for the center position. Displays two-way instincts and an aggressive streak. Can kill penalties and take key face-offs. Can also line up on the wing if need be.


Legend

Offensive ability

Defensive ability

Versatility

Physical play

Good work ethic

Faceoff ability

 

From one short scouting report on each player from a single source, we can already see that these players possess many of the same attributes. These are just some of the talents that make up all-around fantasy contributors. Those with offensive abilities or upside will still contribute points in depth roles and have a chance to rise over the years into better scoring and/or power-play roles. Those with defensive abilities can be deployed during critical situations which means more ice time and obviously better all-around stats. Those with versatility and a good work ethic have a better chance to receive opportunities and take advantage of them when the door opens. Finally, those that play with an edge or have good faceoff abilities are probably going to translate those talents to the NHL.

 

Obviously this does not paint the full picture as there are many players with similar attributes that either do not make it or fall short of becoming fantasy-relevant. Instead, you should use this as a guideline to help figure out which depth players are going to be able to grow into important NHL roles that can help in your own scoring format.


Defensemen

 

In most multi-category settings it is possible for a ton of cheap depth defensemen to be effective, especially those that bring a high level of physical play to the table. However, as you can see in the table below, the very best cap bargain defensemen are those that rise up the depth chart on their respective teams.

 

Defensemen

TOI/G

Team Rank

Dillon, Brenden - DAL

21:30

2

Faulk, Justin - CAR

23:52

1

Franson, Cody - TOR

21:31

2

Gudas, Radko - TB

19:47

3

Krug, Torey - BOS

17:26

6

Lovejoy, Ben - ANA

19:31

3

MacDonald, Andrew - NYI

25:39

1

Muzzin, Jake - LA

19:17

4

 

Four of the eight defensemen listed play top-pairing minutes on their teams. Three others play second-pairing minutes, leaving Torey Krug as the lone third-pairing defenseman able to make it among the league's best. This means two things: ice time matters and this ice time will lead to those defensemen getting big contracts down the road if they can maintain their spot in the depth chart.

 

As players that take longer to develop, defensemen are more difficult to project on draft day. It is far more important to track their development in the years following the draft, much like you would do when following forwards that will eventually settle into key depth roles and provide good fantasy value.

 

Each of the defensemen in this list have shown great signs of things to come in past years, whether it be in the NHL or in lower leagues. This talent combined with opportunity allows the defender to rise through the depth chart and earn prime minutes. It is far from an exact science and will require some luck for you to get maximum value. Fortunately, due to their low cost you can still get good value if your player fails to earn top minutes.


Closing thoughts


While many of the current bargain players are going to earn larger contracts at some point, there is certainly going to be new cheap contributors that emerge in the coming years. Just like us fantasy poolies, NHL teams face salary cap problems of their own and also have to replace departing players. The changes in rosters and contracts over the years create new opportunities for unknown players to make their mark.

 

Unfortunately, despite the work that we put into scouting players and figuring out where the unexpected might happen, it is still all a guessing game. Opportunities can present themselves out of nowhere and often times the eventual benefactor is among a pool of multiple candidates. By taking calculates risks in the right situations it is possible to uncover one of the next quality fantasy hockey players.  


Previously in Capped:

 

Cost-Effective Multi-Category Studs

Stars Aligning

You need to login to post comments. Registration takes 5 seconds. See link at top left under "home"