CamAtkinson

 

Two players to help fill out your salary cap squad.

 

A popular team-building philosophy in capped keeper leagues is to combine star players who are usually expensive with cheap effective depth options to help keep the roster under the league’s cap ceiling. The stars are easy to identify. We know who they are and most of them have a proven track record of high-level production. It is the cap bargains that are more difficult to find and to make matters worse it is not uncommon for cheap players who are effective in one scoring format to not be worth owning in another league. Some additional research is required to figure out which players will help your team the most in your environment.

 

This week we continue to look at a series of players who are good inexpensive investments in keeper leagues in both points-only and multi-category formats. Factors used to select the players include long-term upside and an ability and opportunity to produce immediately along with a multi-year contract with cap hit that is well below the league’s average. These players may or may not be easy to acquire in your league but there is tremendous value in owning them.

 

Note: Since we are profiling players who should be effective immediately, these players also apply as solid options in one-year leagues.


Points-only


Cam Atkinson (CLB)

2013-14: 1,150,000
2014-15: 1,150,000

 

Cam Atkinson is another player in a long line of small talented forwards who put up outstanding numbers at the lower levels. This includes 49 goals and 87 points in 89 career AHL contests. What separates him from those who failed to translate their talents to the NHL is that he already has a good track record at the highest level.

 

Atkinson has already played parts of two seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets. In total, he has 16 goals and 32 points in 62 career games. This makes Atkinson a very safe player moving forward despite his lack of size. A look at his career statistics will tell more of the story:

 

Year

Team

GP

G

A

Pts

+/-

PIM

Hits

Bks

PPG

PPA

SOG

2011

CLS

27

7

7

14

1

14

23

17

1

1

66

2012

CLS

35

9

9

18

9

4

24

16

1

1

91

Totals

62

16

16

32

10

18

47

33

2

2

157

Per 82

82

21

21

42

13

24

62

44

3

3

208


Atkinson’s combined stats will make him a solid multi-category league player, but he will be most valuable in points-only leagues or point-based setups that focus primarily on goals, assists and shots on goal. At 24 years of age he has already demonstrated an ability to produce at a scoring-line level despite not being a factor on the power play. This alone has to make poolies optimistic about Atkinson’s chances for success this year when he will finally get his chance to get easy points on the man advantage.

 

That newly-acquired Nathan Horton's shoulder injury that will cause him to miss a significant chunk of the 2013-14 season adds to Atkinson’s value. This will give Atkinson added minutes and responsibility early in the campaign and could even land him a spot on the top power play unit. This makes Atkinson a candidate to have a hot start and could give you the opportunity to sell-high and improve your team in the long run.

 

Even when Horton returns, he can only hold Atkinson back so much given the lack of pure point producers in the Blue Jackets' lineup. Perhaps Atkinson moves to the left side while Horton and Marian Gaborik play on the right side. Or perhaps Atkinson will have to play more sheltered minutes. Unfortunately, this could be the only thing standing in the way of Atkinson having a big breakout year.

 

Looking at the numbers it appears that Atkinson is safe for about 40 points and with inevitable power-play opportunities on the horizon you have to think that his point total will increase some more. With everything considered, he should be able to push the 50-point mark. That is some excellent value considering Atkinson’s minuscule cap hit of just over $1 million.

Multi-category


Zac Rinaldo (PHI)

2013-14: 750,000
2014-15: 750,000

 

Zac Rinaldo may be hated by many but that does not take away from the fact that he has his place in the fantasy hockey world. The undersized agitator has put up a significant amount of hits and PIM during his two-year NHL career. There are many reasons to own him before other players of his ilk, one of which lies in his career statistics:

 

Year

Team

GP

G

A

Pts

+/-

PIM

Hits

Bks

SOG

2011

PHI

66

2

7

9

-1

232

175

19

54

2012

PHI

32

3

2

5

-7

85

143

12

15

Career

98

5

9

14

-8

317

318

31

69

Per 82

82

4

8

12

-7

265

266

26

58


The most obvious take-away is the massive volume of hits and PIM - Rinaldo gets an average of more than three per game of each. This elite-level production in two different categories is rare. Not only does he likely become your team's most productive player in the physical categories, but the savings give you the ability to absorb bigger contracts elsewhere on the roster to target the other categories.

 

But there is more to Rinaldo. While not a great offensive player by any means, he is far from a player who can only hit and fight. His 12 points per 82 games put him at a level above many other goons who are only able to play a few shifts per night. Also worth noting is Rinaldo’s 26 blocked shots per 82 games, which is a respectable total for a forward.

 

Rinaldo's ability to avoid being a healthy scratch is also a major plus. Of the 32 games he has missed over two years, 21 have been due to injury (including all 16 games missed this year) and two due to suspension. While the injuries are definitely a concern, the fact that Rinaldo is usually in the lineup when healthy makes him much more reliable to own. If by chance he is healthy for 82 games Rinaldo will probably dress for just about all of them.

 

Even though Rinaldo earns his reputation as one of the league's top agitators, fantasy hockey GMs need to realize that he is more than that. In addition to being a more balanced multi-category contributor than most traditional fighters, he is also going to suit up more often. Every little bit counts and with the low point totals Ribaldo is likely never going to be paid big money which makes him a good long-term keeper.

 

Previously from Daoust:

 

Inexpensive (but Valuable) Keeper League Investments

 

Keeper League Salary Cap Gems (Part III)

 


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