Ovechkin

 

Some of the toughest decisions you need to make when running a salary cap team come in the earliest rounds of your draft. The best players are paid accordingly and it's in these rounds that you are bound to be well over your average in terms of budget. It's tough to pass over one of the big three if you fall into a top-three draft position (yes, that still includes Ovechkin), but there are very few in the NHL who have a cap hit over $8 million. It's fair to question whether or not it's worth it to carry a monster contract despite the production; in some situations that answer is an easy and resounding yes. A lot depends on your pool's cap limit and the statistics it considers. Carrying an albatross of a contract works if you get the production that should come hand-in-hand with getting paid as a top player, but we know that in most cases production fluctuates year-to-year. A minor drop here and there isn't a team killer and is even expected, but can a team overcome a major drop in production when a player is eating up your cap space like Cookie Monster in the Mr. Christie factory?

 

In this week's article I begin a series that will take a look at the highest paid players in the NHL and let you know whether or not they provide a cap team with the necessary production to justify the pay cheque. Value to specific fantasy rosters will differ as situation and cap space will play a large role. This will be a look at each player’s rotisserie production specific to their cap hit.  Might as well start from the top...

 

Alex Ovechkin – $9,538,462

 

There are a lot of frustrating players to own in fantasy hockey but Ovechkin may have assumed the role as number one headache. Where it was once possible to justify the outrageous cap hit attached to Ovie “not-so-Wan” Kenobi, there has been a drastic change in opinion's surrounding his value in regular leagues, let alone one with a salary cap. I'm not going to sit here and suggest you to trade Ovechkin in your regular keeper, but there is strong reason to consider the roster flexibility such a move can provide in a salary cap league. Flexibility is of utmost importance in cap league, as I’ve presented in past articles. If your team is feeling a cap crunch, moving a piece like Ovechkin can make all of those problems go away. Odds are good you are going to have your pick of a multitude of players if you put Ovechkin on the block, which gives you the power to find more efficient players. Grabbing a cap friendly combination such as Bobby Ryan and Evander Kane (in my mind a realistic option), can create instant Jane Fonda-like flexibility. Problem solved.

 

Beyond flexibility, gauging what kind of production to expect from a player is vital. In Ovechkin’s case, do you think he’s guaranteed to rebound from the plunge his value has taken? Is he the same player just waiting to explode, or are his best days behind him and he’s now “only” a point-per-game player? The answer to this question plays a significant role in the decision making process as point-per-game production and everyday peripherals do not justify being the highest paid player in the league. Expectations will obviously vary from owner to owner, but one important aspect, when making your predictions, is following trends.

 

Year

cost/goal

cost/point

cost/sog

cost/pim

cost/ppp

2007/08

$146,745

$85,164

$21,386

$238,461

$130,769

2008/09

$170,329

$86,713

$18,065

$132,478

$207,357

2009/10

$190,769

$87,508

$25,919

$107,173

$264,597

2010/11

$298,076

$112,217

$25,990

$232,645

$397,435

2011/12 (pace)

$381,538

$161,668

$34,065

$216,783

$454,212

 

*games played totals vary but other than one 72-game season he’s never dipped below 79.

 

What made Ovechkin so special and a step above the rest of the league was his insane ability to get pucks on the net. In most cases (not Jason Blake’s), the more you shoot, the more you score. Ovie is a perfect example with career best goal totals coming in the two years he rocked the league with ridiculous shooting results:

 

Year

Shots on goal

Goals

Shooting %

2007/08

446

65

14.57

2008/09

528

56

10.61

 

Ovechkin’s shooting totals were only typical in the last couple years, averaging just over 365. His current pace is only 280. His shooting percentage follows a similar path, hovering around a 12.17% average in his first six seasons. His last two years are much lower at 8.85%, which is where his current pace sits. While we’re at it, why not take a look at one more statistic with a downward spiral. Production and time-on-ice go together like hockey and beer, the more you get the better you are. Ovechkin isn’t hitting the ice as much as he once used to, and it’s showing.

 

Year

Average time on ice

Average powerplay time

2007/08

23:06

5:40

2008/09

22:59

5:24

2009/10

21:48

5:03

2010/11

21:22

4:29

2011/12 (pace)

18:54

3:53

 

This is a disturbing trend for a player who was once considered the best player in the NHL. No matter what the reasons for his depleted ice time are, be it due to poor play or a modified team strategy, the point is that his overall ice-time is way down from where it once was. Over a five year period, Ovechkin’s has lost almost five minutes of ice-time and just under two minutes of power play time. None of this is to say that Ovechkin cannot overcome his issues, but if you utilize trends in order to make educated decisions, this is a trend that should not be ignored.

 

Ovechkin, at this rate, no longer justifies his position as the highest paid player in the league, and by a large million bucks at that. I want him on my team and if I can make him fit without sacrificing too much by doing so, I’ll take my chances that Ovechkin forces his way back into prominence. I won’t completely shuffle the deck for him, though, as pedestrian production doesn’t promote efficiency for your salary cap team.


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Jeremy said:

onthebeach96
I sold Ovie high I had Ovie when he had 110 points and I was mad that season as I wanted more!! I can't imagine having him now, as he's a shadow of his former self! Can't wait to see him vs the Leafs tonight!!!
December 09, 2011 | url
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