PKSubban

 

Daoust looks at what may come of this season's best bargains on defense.

 

The NHL playoffs are well underway and for many of you so is the offseason in your keeper league. At this time while you're not enjoying the intense hockey on TV you are thinking about your roster. You may be trimming your roster for a keeper re-draft or you may be thinking ahead to the prospect draft. In salary cap leagues the summer will throw a bunch of curve balls in your direction and can often leave you with a financially illegal roster in no time.

 

Beyond your own team, the free agent signing period brings a ton of change to player fantasy value across the league. What used to be a cheap bargain depth player filling your final roster spot admirably can become a more fairly-paid player that is simply too rich to fit on your squad. By the time your hand is being forced, that player's value on the trade market has also changed.

 

Using Capgeek's Bargain Hunter tool, we will look back at the most cost-effective defensemen of this season as well as the most productive players on this list of budget-friendly defenders.  From these lists we can draw conclusions based on which players are currently there to figure out how to best go about finding a replacement for your departing former player.


Note 1: Under the Years Left (YRL) column "X" signifies that the player already signed a contract extension, "U" means that the player is headed for unrestricted free agency and "R" means that the player is a restricted free agent this summer.

Note 2: Due to having fewer defensemen in an NHL lineup than forwards, only the top 50 defensemen (instead of 100) listed in the Bargain Hunter list were considered.


Best Bang For The Buck


Name

Pos

Team

GP

G

A

P

ATOI

CAP HIT

VALUE

YRL

MacDonald, Andrew »

D

PHI

82

4

24

28

24.63

$550,000

$19,643

X

Barrie, Tyson »

D

COL

64

13

25

38

18.54

$900,000

$23,684

R

Holden, Nick »

D

COL

54

10

15

25

18.68

$600,000

$24,000

1

Faulk, Justin »

D

CAR

76

5

27

32

23.41

$900,000

$28,125

X

Gelinas, Eric »

D

NJD

60

7

22

29

16.92

$870,000

$30,000

R

Hickey, Thomas »

D

NYI

82

4

18

22

18.87

$675,000

$30,682

1

Maatta, Olli »

D

PIT

78

9

20

29

18.5

$894,167

$30,833

2

Benoit, Andre »

D

COL

79

7

21

28

20.21

$900,000

$32,143

U

Gilbert, Tom »

D

FLA

73

3

25

28

21.34

$900,000

$32,143

U

Stanton, Ryan »

D

VAN

64

1

15

16

14.71

$550,000

$34,375

1

 

The theme here is underappreciated defensemen that found themselves in favorable situations and achieved beyond expectations. Guys like Holden, Hickey, Benot, Gilbert and Stanton were likely on your waiver wire at the start of the season yet at some point provided adequate service for someone in your league. Sometimes the only thing a player needs is to get his foot in the door. Once there, a couple bounces and a bit of luck can lead to a more prominent role and as a defender it does not take much to suddenly become fantasy-relevant.

 

This really puts into perspective the importance of keeping track of which players are being kept to round out NHL rosters. A quick look at their stats in the recent past will help paint a picture of what that player may contribute if he catches on. For example, Benoit and Holden had a history of good production from the blueline down in the AHL prior to this year. Also, reclamation projects like Gilbert make interesting additions once their cap hit returns to a reasonable number.

 

The contract extensions signed by MacDonald and Faulk show how the cap bargain status can be turned on its head. If the player is a valuable contributor on the ice he will get paid someday. In both of these cases it involved blueliners that are valuable contributors at both ends of the ice. As a result, the two signed long and lucrative new contracts. For MacDonald it probably spells the end of his usefulness in all formats. Meanwhile Faulk still has a lot of untapped potential but will have to raise his game significantly to justify his new $4.8-million cap hit. There are simply too many alternatives that are paid close to the minimum and can provide comparable production while giving you the gift of allocating the savings elsewhere on your roster.

 

What ultimately happens to Barrie, Gelinas, Benoit and Gilbert at the negotiation table remains to be seen. One would assume that each will receive a substantial raise. Not at the level of MacDonald and Faulk, but perhaps more in line with the one-year "bridge" contract signed by Leafs' defenseman Cody Franson that carried a cap hit of $2 million this past season.


Most Productive Cap Bargains


Name

Pos

Team

GP

G

A

P

ATOI

CAP HIT

VALUE

YRL

Subban, P.K. »

D

MTL

82

10

43

53

24.62

$2,875,000

$54,245

R

Niskanen, Matt »

D

PIT

81

10

36

46

21.29

$2,300,000

$50,000

U

Sekera, Andrej »

D

CAR

74

11

33

44

23.68

$2,750,000

$62,500

1

Krug, Torey »

D

BOS

79

14

26

40

17.51

$1,704,167

$42,604

R

Barrie, Tyson »

D

COL

64

13

25

38

18.54

$900,000

$23,684

R

Demers, Jason »

D

SJS

75

5

29

34

19.49

$1,500,000

$44,118

R

Franson, Cody »

D

TOR

79

5

28

33

20.7

$2,000,000

$60,606

R

Faulk, Justin »

D

CAR

76

5

27

32

23.41

$900,000

$28,125

X

Gardiner, Jake »

D

TOR

80

10

21

31

21.08

$1,116,667

$36,022

R

Brodie, T.J. »

D

CGY

81

4

27

31

24.06

$2,125,000

$68,548

1

 

The elephant in the room on this list is P.K. Subban who is due for a big contract this summer. What this contract does for his fantasy value will be interesting. In points-only leagues it may be a tough pill to swallow as there are many options available including Duncan Keith, Dustin Byfuglien, Victor Hedman and Keith Yandle that are top scorers at the position yet are well under the $7-million mark in cap hit.

 

However, in multi-category leagues Subban will still be worth owning. His high-level contributions across the board make him one of the very best defenders out there. That qualifies him as a star in most formats and should be built around rather than avoided. There are plenty of bargain players available to round out your roster and help absorb the hit.

 

Beyond Subban, there are a ton of other defensemen on the list that are still very early in their respective careers. Over half of the players on the list are headed for restricted free agency this summer. As was the case last week when we looked at cap bargain forwards, the frequency of young defensemen among those considered cap bargains underlines the importance of excelling at obtaining prospects in your keeper league before they hit their stride. Whether it be via the prospect draft in a league with bonus farm slots or via the waiver wire in a smaller, more restricted league, these defenders provide great value to your team in addition to the long-term potential that they possess. There will certainly be competition for their services though as everyone is trying to find the next new sensation. But in leagues where getting the most out of your allocated dollars is the key to victory, hitting the jackpot on an emerging star or two can make the difference between first and second.

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