Brandon Saad and Richard Clune are cost-effective guys to target in capped keeper leagues.
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. 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 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.
Brandon Saad (CHI)
Two summers ago, many had pegged Brandon Saad as a first-round choice. However, when draft day arrived he would be left waiting until the 43rd selection to hear his name called by the Chicago Blackhawks. This may have been the only setback so far in his young career, as his on-ice play since that day has certainly placed him among the best in his draft class.
In 2011-12, Saad took a big step forward offensively with 76 points in just 44 games with Saginaw of the OHL. Last year he made the jump to the AHL and had a strong showing with 20 points in 31 games before making the jump to Chicago after the lockout. There, he notched 27 points in 46 contests and earned a nomination for the Calder trophy as top rookie.
The numbers obtained by Saad over the last two years show how far he has come as an offensive player. His numbers in the NHL scale up to 48 points in 82 games, which is impressive for a 20-year-old. Clearly he has arrived as a relevant contributor in points-only leagues.
There are some hurdles that could prevent Saad from breaking out offensively this year. One problem is the new contract with a $4-million cap hit given to Bryan Bickell. The playoff hero's cost will give him opportunities and take some away from Saad. On the flip side, Bickell does not have a great history of putting up points and may be better off in a depth role over the long haul. Furthermore, the Hawks have a pair of injury-prone wingers in Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp that will certainly miss some games during the season. To summarize, Saad will receive plenty of shifts on the scoring lines this year.
The other problem in the evaluation of Saad's performance is the sample size of games. This was a lockout year where individual hot streaks are more representative of the final number. Saad played very well in 46 games. Simply maintaining this production over a longer schedule would be an accomplishment.
Still, with such a minuscule cap hit, he brings excellent value to your lineup and is one of the few cheap players who combines big upside with an ability to produce immediately. Looking at the numbers, you have to think that he can easily eclipse the 40-point mark and push for 50.
Richard Clune (NSH)
A year ago Richard Clune was not known by many. He was claimed on waivers from Los Angeles by the Nashville Predators and immediately played the agitator role once occupied by Jordin Tootoo. His first full NHL campaign was a very successful one both personally and in fantasy hockey. In 47 games, he managed nine points, 113 PIM, 159 hits and 46 shots on goal. To put it in full-season perspective, he was on pace for 16 points, 197 PIM, 277 hits and 80 shots.
While players generally develop slower offensively, which sometimes frustrates fantasy owners, they are often able to produce in the physical department (hits and/or PIM) immediately. Clune was able to do just that. He is already among the elite in both hits and PIM and having offensive numbers that are better than your typical fighter only adds to his value.
The biggest benefit of owning players like Clune is that their cap hit will always be well below the league average. Forwards are paid for the most part based on their ability to produce points. Well, scoring is not Clune's calling card. Even though he may never even exceed 20 points in a single season, the fact that his point totals are low will make him affordable forever. This is great keeper-league value for a player who can dominate in two categories.
With Clune's recent contract extension, you get two more years with a cap hit of well under the $1-million mark after this year. This has a cost close to the league minimum. He may be one of the best cap bargains around in In leagues that count hits and PIM.
Previously from Daoust: