This week I opened up my mailbag for salary cap league-related questions . Filling your team with the correct players while conforming to a salary cap ceiling can be a complicated task. Hopefully these answers can help. 

hansel_is asks: “In recent years we have seen big (offensive) numbers from defenders making peanuts (relatively speaking, of course), some on entry-level contracts, some not. In particular, Duncan Keith in 2009-10 (69 pts, $1,475,000), Keith Yandle in 2010-11 (59 pts, $1,200,000), and most recently Erik Karlsson in 2011-12 (78 pts, $1,300,000).

Coincidentally, I was one year too early to cash in on all 3 of these explosions. In your opinion who (if any) is most likely to follow suit: Kevin Shattenkirk ($1,300,000), Cam Fowler ($1,400,000), Oliver Ekman-Larsson ($1,750,000), Ryan McDonagh ($1,300,000) or other... We use cap hits in our one-year league which rewards only G,A,PIM,PPP for skaters. Last year I drafted Cam Fowler, but don't let that influence your decision.”

You certainly have the right idea of looking into some cheap productive talent. This is key to your team’s success because it allows you to afford one more star or even take on the contract of an expensive player that others are avoiding. The cap hits are similar for each player you listed which simplifies the answer.

Of that group, I would absolutely avoid McDonagh. He is defensive-minded and has no history of producing on the power play. Although he has talent, I would not be comfortable counting on him in a one-year setting. Your scoring categories are not a good fit for what he brings to the table statistically. Your best bet here is Shattenkirk by a wide margin. He has had back-to-back 43-point seasons which makes him far more reliable. He also scored nine goals in each of those campaigns which will give you an added boost in that category. He is also a decent source of PIM and has a great opportunity to post solid power play totals.

Fowler and Ekman-Larsson are both decent options as well. In Fowler’s case, he could get back to the 40-point range but simply does not produce in the PIM category to keep up with Shattenkirk. Meanwhile, OEL has showed an ability to score a lot of goals last year but is not at the level of Fowler or Shattenkirk in terms of power play production.


5hole asks: “Team in signature (we use player salaries), going for the win now as I gave up a bit for Chara & Iggy. Where do you think my team is lacking and who would you move and for what? My biggest question marks are with Michalek repeating and Goligoski improving."


14 Team Dynasty, Full Salarys (Cap 20M$ over actual).

G,A,Pts,+/-,PIM,PP,SH,Shots,GWG - W,SV%,GAA,SO,Saves


Jonathan Toews (A) / Martin St.louis (A) / Jarome Iginla / Phil Kessel / Patrick Marleau / Patrice Bergeron / David Backes / Milan Michalek / Alex Burrows / Tomas Fleischmann / Gabriel Landeskog / Patric Hornqvist 

Zdeno Chara (C) / Alex Edler / Alex Goligoski / Dimitri Kulikov / Ekman-Larsson, Oliver
Jimmy Howard / Jaroslav Halak 

Cody Hodgson / Ryan Johansen / Marcus Johansson / Adam Larsson / Michal Neuvirth

I really like this team. Even though you do not have any of the mega-stars on your roster, you still possess several elite players. However, I see a weakness in goal. Howard and Halak are solid options but neither is a top-tier keeper. Your goalies count for five out of 14 categories (36%) so you definitely want a strong presence there. How much cap you intend to allocate to your goaltending is up to you, but making a move for one of the elite would do wonders.

Seeing that you are going for the win, you could check the trade market for an improvement over Hodgson. Again, it depends on the cap space that you have and are willing to allocate to another roster player. But in any event he definitely has value on the trade market and could land you a nice mid-range forward who can contribute immediately. You could even try to package a couple players for one upgrade, especially if you have good options on the waiver wire who can replace your departed farm players.

Your league setup can give you opportunities to take advantage of the perceived value of certain players. For example, in many formats David Backes is a top-10 player. But without blocked shots, hits and face-offs his value takes a hit. The same applies to Patrice Bergeron. Perhaps one of them can be used as trade bait to lure in better value than what they are worth.

In Michalek’s case it will be a tall order to repeat 35 goals. His previous high was 26 goals back in 2007. I would expect him to fall back into that region while posting 50-55 total points. Keep in mind that he is a risk for injury.  His salary this year is $4.75 million and then increases to $6 million next year. This is probably going to be a drag on your budget.

I feel better about Goligoski’s prospects. He has had back-to-back down years but still has a lot of upside and his team added some firepower this summer. His new contract never exceeds $4.8 million and he is a good goal-scorer for a defenseman and is productive on the power play.


Carcillo asks: “Who are the best potential breakout players with a league minimum salary (=cap hit) for this year (let's say cap hit less than $0.7 million)? I'm talking about guys like Kris Versteeg in 08-09 (cap hit $0.491667, had a 53 point season), Matt Moulson in 09-10 (cap hit $0.575, had a 30 goal and 48 point season), Frans Nielsen the past few years (cap hit $0.525, 38/44/47 point seasons). Where should I look to find the next player to break out with a league minimum salary?” Spurgeon

There are plenty of examples, but I will avoid the obvious cases of great prospects on rookie contracts. Obviously, the lesser-known players will come with some risk since they do not have golden boy status and will have to earn every minute of ice time.

Andrew Shaw ($565,000): The Blackhawks do not have a true fourth winger in their top-six and Shaw will be in the mix. He is a candidate for 40+ points if he can land a second-line spot, but has some roto league value regardless of his role.

Drayson Bowman ($600,000): Bowman does not get the credit he deserves as a prospect. He is off to a great start in the AHL this year with nine goals and 11 points in 10 games. The Hurricanes have a lot of scoring-line depth at the moment but with a few injuries he could be in for a strong season. Even if he is not an instant hit, he carries great upside for the future.

Erik Condra ($625,000): He is a responsible defensive-minded winger which will help his ice time. Additionally, he has a history of scoring in the AHL and in college. He is a long-shot, but depending on injuries and line combinations he could be the benefactor of having some highly-skilled forwards at his side. He could have an impact similar to Frans Nielsen.

Jared Spurgeon ($526,667): The signings of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter makes the Minnesota Wild a much better team, but leaves them weak in terms of depth. This gives Spurgeon an excellent opportunity to contribute immediately. He will battle Tom Gilbert for PP1 minutes alongside Suter.

Paul Postma ($550,000): Postma has become a popular name in these parts but is still an unknown to many of your rival GMs. He has a great chance to contribute immediately in Winnipeg, especially with the injury to Zach Bogosian. He has limited experience in the NHL but is signed to a one-way contract which greatly helps his cause.

Richard Bachman ($625,000): If you own an NHL backup goaltender, what better than owning a talented netminder sitting behind a starter who is notorious for missing large chunks of games to injury? Bachman had a strong first year in the NHL and won the backup job when Kari Lehtonen missed a dozen games with a groin injury. He will only get better as he gains more experience.


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ericdaoust said:

Faulk/Schultz Faulk is absolutely a great example, but Schultz has a cap hit of 3.775 million. Not exactly a cap bargain.

Postma and Spurgeon are also good options for question 1 but do not have the same sky-high potential as the others mentioned. You can still get 30+ points at a near-minimum cap hit with them.
November 09, 2012
Votes: +0

frozenpools said:

... Gotta think Schultz and Faulk are also good answers to the first question
November 08, 2012
Votes: +0

Carcillo said:

I did not realize you own Lehtonen in UHL. Probably an oversight on my part because I do not need a goalie to beat you in that league (true story).

Touche. smilies/smiley.gif

Bachman was my choice because you told me to dig deeper than Holtby. Other choices include Scrivens, Greiss, Enroth and Bishop. I just felt that Bachman has a better chance of becoming a #1 in the NHL. The fact that I own him is just extra gravy.

Didn't necessarily mean goalies. Holtby just jumps out when you think of league minimum salary guys and is too obvious choice to this kind of list. Beyond him I don't really expect any other really cheap goalie to put up great numbers this year. Those are all good sleepers though and some of them could surprise.
November 08, 2012
Votes: +0

ericdaoust said:

Bachman/Lehtonen I did not realize you own Lehtonen in UHL. Probably an oversight on my part because I do not need a goalie to beat you in that league (true story).

Bachman was my choice because you told me to dig deeper than Holtby. Other choices include Scrivens, Greiss, Enroth and Bishop. I just felt that Bachman has a better chance of becoming a #1 in the NHL. The fact that I own him is just extra gravy. smilies/smiley.gif
November 08, 2012
Votes: +0

Carcillo said:

Drayson Bowman Bowman was a good call, hadn't thought of him. Thought for him to produce this year, he'd probably need to get traded as Carolina is pretty crowded already like you mentioned. But the potential is definitely there for Bowman to surprise.

Admit it, you put Bachman there just to rub it in my face that you own him in UHL while I have Lehtonen smilies/smiley.gif
November 08, 2012
Votes: +0
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