Read on to find out about two late round gems who could help you win your keeper pool.
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.
Over the next few weeks we will 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.
Beau Bennett (PIT)
Beau Bennett played his first season as a pro last year and made an impact immediately. During the lockout he played in the AHL where he had seven goals and 28 points in 39 games. He also saw significant time in Pittsburgh, posting three goals and 14 points in 26 contests which scales up to 44 points over 82 games. It is safe to say that he is ready for a full-time role in the NHL.
The opportunity could not be better for Bennett. His team is a Stanley Cup contender with a number of large contracts. The Penguins need his cap hit of less than $1 million on their roster. And as a former first-round draft choice he could get a longer leash to work through slumps without moving down the depth chart. Prospects who are as safe as him are a rarity.
Expect to see Bennett on the Penguins’ second line for the majority of the season with some occasional stints on the third line. He will not get top power-play minutes but should be a fixture on the second unit. That will easily be offset by the presence of Sidney Crosby or Evgeny Malkin on shifts at even strength. Barring injury he should clear 40 points with ease and has a ton of potential to grow into a 70-point player down the road if he can make his way up to the top power-play line.
Radko Gudas (TB)
Radko Gudas is a mean, tough defenseman and is only getting started. He played the majority of last season in the minors where he had 20 points and a whopping 207 PIM in just 57 games. He did earn an extended call-up to Tampa Bay where he had five points, 38 PIM, 87 hits and 28 blocked shots in 17 minutes of ice time per contest. Scaling that up to 82 games paints a pretty clear picture: 19 points, 141 PIM, 324 hits and 104 blocked shots. Obviously the massive amount of hits will not be sustainable but it still gives a good idea of what kind of player he is and asserts that he is a very relevant player worth owning in multi-category leagues.
The most underrated aspect of Gudas’ game is at the offensive end. Over three AHL campaigns he had an average of 23 points per 82 games. While this will not challenge Erik Karlsson anytime soon, it shows that he is better than the typical rugged defenseman. He has some offensive ability and in multi-category leagues everything counts. It just makes him that much more valuable to own. He should be able to grow into a defenseman capable of matching his AHL scoring output with the potential for more with star offensive players like Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Jonathan Drouin up front.
In terms of a roster spot, Gudas is a very safe player despite his lack of NHL experience. His new contract that began this summer is a one-way agreement which virtually guarantees him a roster spot and decent minutes. He has the potential to quickly become one of the elite defenders in multi-category leagues that include PIM, hits and blocked shots. And at a cap hit of just under $1 million for three more years he might be the best cap bargain around.
Previously from Daoust: