Finding the balance between youth and experience is a difficult process in any keeper league.  GM's, for whatever reason, tend to put too much value into owning young potential superstars, which can disrupt the main goal of winning your pool.  A salary cap league is no different, but there is a rather large benefit in finding that 18 or 19 year old that can step directly into the NHL and make an instant impact.


Being able to fill a roster spot with a player on his entry-level contract allows for major roster flexibility and can also open trading doors as there are always GM's looking to unload a fat contract.  A big part of being a good GM is knowing when and where to make your deals.  Taking advantage of a “need to move” situation is a fantastic way to get big return for a low price.  In addition to flexibility, it's extremely beneficial to have a “steady” roster, one that isn't going to create headaches each year with multiple players’ receiving a bump in salary. Too much cap maintenance and roster management is a nuisance and can force your hand into making a deal, which is a vulnerable situation.


The move to a salary cap league by the NHL actually benefits those who partake in salary cap fantasy leagues.  With teams looking to lock up players to long-term, cap-friendly contracts, it has become somewhat easier to stock your team with these “steady” players.  Conversely, some of those contracts can be cap killers (see Lecavalier, Vincent) and can backfire in the long term.  Much like in the NHL, having some cap space coming in to each year is important, as trading becomes much more of a numbers game than it does in your typical keeper league.  No matter what, at some point in time you will have to deal with big raises to your top players.


Limiting the amount of players due each year can help ease the pain of fitting those increases under your cap.  If more than one of your players gets that hefty raise they want, your work is then cut out for you.  A perfect example of this is the recent monster of a contract signed by Pekka Rinne, a member of my “Bargain Goalie” list.  Rinne is worth every penny of that $7 million he's due to make, but the challenge lays in fitting that $3.5 million into your roster.


Imagine as a Rinne owner that you also keep Erik Karlsson and Jamie Benn; lucky you.  Currently at a cap hit of $1,300,000 and $821,667 respectively, both players are huge bargains and are due for big raises, even as restricted free agents.  Their value to their NHL/fantasy* team will not go unrecognized and a combined raise of $5 million is not out of the question.  Finding a way to work $8.5 million into a roster all in one year is no easy feat and can have a negative impact on your team.  Looking ahead and being aware of what kind of raises are coming is very important and is the difference between being a consistent challenger and a one-year-wonder.



*There are a variety of styles of cap-pools out there, but it’s safe to assume that most will be tied to the same type of “raise by production” system and timing (RFA, UFA status) that an NHL team or typical salary cap league would use.


To stay on top of surprises and ahead of your competition, plan ahead much like you would for a yearly budget.  Get down on paper what you expect your team to look like and factor in any raises that are due.  For example:


2011/12 ROSTER

2012/13 ROSTER

C- Jonathan Toews - $6,300,000

C- Jonathan Toews - $6,300,000

C- Henrik Sedin =$6,100,000

C- Henrik Sedin =$6,100,000

LW- Shane Doan = $4,550,000 EXP!

LW- Shane Doan =  EST $5,000,000

RW- Patrick Kane = $6,300,000

RW- Patrick Kane = $6,300,000

D- Keith Yandle = $5,250,000

D- Keith Yandle = $5,250,000

D- PK Subban = $875,000 EXP!

D- PK Subban = EST  $3,500,000

G- Henrik Lundqvist = $6,875,000

G- Henrik Lundqvist = $6,875,000

G- Carey Price = $2,750,000 EXP!

G- Carey Price = EST $6,000,000

TOTAL = $39,000,000

TOTAL = $45,325,000


Here, you’ve managed to prepare a year ahead for a potential $6,325,000 increase in salary which allows you to either make moves during the season or off-season, look for specific cap-efficient players in your annual draft, or make sure that your increase fits under any sort of cap change or raise that your league might apply each year (my league applies an increase/decrease based on what the actual NHL cap does).  By marking your expiring contracts in the current year and then applying your own estimated raises (go high to avoid surprises), you are now fully aware of what you need to be prepared for in the upcoming season.  Having as many players on your roster with long-term contracts, as well as staggering the year of expiration, is good business.


This list is a quick focus on cheaper contracts.  There are a lot of long-term contracts out there, but not all of them can be categorized as “cap-friendly.”  A minimum of three years on the remaining contract is a prerequisite and multi-cat players get the nod over pure points.  Next week`s article will continue with the theme of “future planning” and roster flexibility, with the focus on the type of depth needed to win your salary cap pool.




Dustin Brown - $3,175,000 until 2014

Claude Giroux - $3,750,000 until 2014

Phil Kessel - $5,400,000 until 2014

Joe Pavelski - $4,000,000 until 2014

Logan Couture - $1,241,667 until 2012/$2,875,000 until 2014

Steve Ott -  $2,950,000 until 2014

Bobby Ryan - $5,100,000 until 2015

Alex Tanguay - $3,500,000 until 2016

Rene Bourque - $3,333,333 until 2016

Ryan Kesler - $5,000,000 until 2016

David Backes - $4,500,000 until 2016

Loui Eriksson - $4,250,000 until 2016

Kyle Okposo - $2,800,000 until 2016

Michael Grabner - $3,000,000 until 2016

James van Riemsdyk - $4,250,000 until 2018

John Tavares - $3,750,000 until 2012/$5,500,000 until 2018

Johan Franzen - $3,954,545 until 2020

Jeff Carter - $5,272,272 until 2022


Kris Letang - $3,500,000 until 2014

Adam Larsson - $925,000 until 2014

Keith Yandle - $5,250,000 until 2016

Christian Ehrhoff - $4,000,000 until 2021

Duncan Keith - $5,538,462 until 2023


Corey Crawford - $2,666,667 until 2014

Semyon Varlamov - $2, 833, 333 until 2014

Jaroslav Halak - $3,750,000 until 2014

Marc-Andre Fleury - $5,000,000 until 2015










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Comments (6)add comment

Chris said:

... Nice article. Love to see more attention being drawn to Cap Leagues, as I strongly believe they are the way of the future!

What kind of term and cap hit do you see Karlsson and Benn getting at the end of this season?
November 12, 2011
Votes: +1

N.1.A.K. said:

... id be interested in joining a salary cap hockey league if there are any openings.
November 12, 2011
Votes: +1

mike hess said:

with prospects and minors Great article. Have some flexibility in my league with 50 prospects that can move back and forth, but dumping big contracts is hard in cap league especially because you have to think out 2 or more years...
November 11, 2011
Votes: +0

ryan said:

Yup! Good suggestion - will do from now on. Should shave about 46 seconds off my writing time anyways!
November 10, 2011
Votes: +0

Gandhi said:

November 10, 2011
Votes: +0

Pengwin7 said:

Like it Thumbs up, great piece.

A small suggestion... the 000s are driving me bananas.
Any chance you can just write the salaries as $5.250m? A bit neater.

That's all - great value in these!!! Love 'em.
November 10, 2011
Votes: +0
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