I want to run my own hockey team. Living the dream, to me, would be just that. The next Mike Gillis. The effort to live vicariously through your fantasy hockey team mellows the burning desire live it out in the real. Adding dimensions to your hockey pool can simulate an office job with a city view, while working for your favourite team. The salary cap satisfies the statistic nerd in all of us and increases the difficulty level of running a team.
There's always the guy in your pool who makes that one boneheaded move, resulting in the instant shift of balance and integrity of the pool. The GM willing to pay the "win now" price, by sacrificing cheap, young talent for the more proven but costly vets, can load up on the superstars of the league without constraint. Creating a salary cap can restrict the ability to go overboard in that instance, without eliminating the ability to do so completely. It creates a brand new challenge to building a team, as well as affecting trades. A lot of thought and planning ahead goes into breeding a winner, and the window of opportunity can shrink more quickly than that of an unrestricted pool.
Here are some of the best bargains in the NHL on a fantasy-production level. Based on your typical rotisserie-league settings, these aren't rankings, but simply a look at some of those players who produce for peanuts. Length of contract adds value to a player, as knowing what kind of cap space you have to work with is important.
1. Alex Burrows - 30 goals for two-million dollars? Hop on board, son. Getting to ride shotgun with the Sedins is like being with twins of the opposite sex. This line is together for another two years, at least, and they will continue to challenge for the title of highest scoring line. In a healthy season Burrows will pot you 30 goals, 60 points and still has 80 PIM potential playing in his top line situation. I don't see a return to the combination of 35 goals and 120 PIM that we saw in 2009/10, but we know the upside is there.
Salary - $2 million/UFA 2013
Roto strength - Goals/PIM/ +/-
2. Dustin Brown - Whether he's first or second line can affect Brown's production, but all his value lies in roto-leagues, especially those that count hits. His salary is also responsible for his heightened value in cap leagues. Like Burrows, Brown has 30 goal potential. His high SOG totals aid the goal totals and owners can expect decent PIM as Brown risks misconducts with his aggressive style of play and monster hits.
Salary - $3.175 million/UFA 2015
Roto strength - Goals/SOG/PIM
3. Corey Perry - He's not at the low end of the spectrum of salaries, but his consistent contribution of across the board stats makes Perry a monster. He's only missed 16 games in his six years in the NHL. A goal scorer who plays with an edge, Perry's accomplished a lot before he's 27, typically considered a hockey players prime, and he can be counted on year in and out. Simply put, Corey Perry's value under these settings is so immense that he's a bargain even though his salary is north of five million.
Salary - $5.325 million/UFA 2013
Roto strength - Goals/SOG/PIM/PPP
4. Steve Downie - A tremendous playoff run has poolies drooling over Downie's potential. His ability to put up points playing on the third line is impressive, and eases the mind of owner's on the question of linemates in conjunction with Downie's ability to produce. Even as a consistent 40-point player, Downie's acumen for taking big, bad penalties is fantasy gold. A 60 point, 200 PIM season isn't out of the question. This kid can win your PIM category for you without hurting you in other areas, as he was one of the team leaders in the plus/minus department in the last two seasons.
Salary - $1.85 million/UFA 2012
Roto strength - PIM
5. Pekka Rinne - There is no argument that Rinne is the starter in Nashville. Playing behind a stingy defense that preaches the smart game, Rinne is in the elite of goalies in any league. Add a salary averaging three and half million dollars into the equation and you're a "beautiful mind". Consistently near the top in wins, Rinne's peripheral stats are improving every year and he is a fantastic source of the elusive shutout.
Salary - $3.4 million/UFA 2012
Roto strength - W/GAA/SV%/SO
6. Jonathan Quick - Can you say more about a kid who comes out of nowhere and capitalizes on a hot season with a nice three year extension, that turns out to be one of the best bang-for-buck cap hits in the entire league? I don't think so. Always under-estimated, Quick has shot up the fantasy rankings with two straight 35+ win seasons and improving peripherals. Quick's career-best numbers were fantastic in 2010-11, posting six shutouts along the way, leaving us all thinking "Jonathan Bernier who?"
Salary - $1.8 million/UFA 2013
Roto strength - Wins
7. Kris Letang - Hey, wanna be the powerplay quarterback alongside two of the most lethal players in the NHL? Well you can't, because you suck compared to NHL players, so the next best thing is to own Kris Letang in your salary cap roto-league. Letang is a pure offensive wizard and his trajectory is trending nothing but upwards. Signed for the next three years at a bargain price, look for Letang to consistently improve on his numbers each year as he climbs the ladder to elite status.
Salary - $3.5 million/UFA 2014
Roto strength - SOG/PPP
8. P.K. Subban - The only downside to Subban is the question mark of a raise next year. His performance in 2011/12 will play a big role in how big his raise will be. If you own him in a salary cap league right now, than enjoy the ride. Breaking the bank just below a million bucks, Subban should see 40+ points next year with an outside shot at 50, playing a big role in Montreal's potent powerplay. The sky's the limit for kid known as much for his aggressive play and nature, as he is for his booming shot from the point. You want to be an owner, 'cus you aren't going to like the price tag Subban owners will dangle.
Salary - $875,000/UFA 2012
Roto strength - Goals/PPP/SOG/PIM