- Written by Eric Daoust
Five defensemen signed via free agency who are giving us cause for concern...
Along with the insanity that comes with the start of the NHL's free agency period comes all of the scrutinizing of the amount of money and/or term being given to all of these players. History shows us that many of the massive contracts handed out will be seen as poor decisions when it is all said and done. This year is no exception. In fantasy leagues, many of these players lose a ton of value and sometimes become major liabilities to their owners. No doubt, July is a nervous month for those in cap leagues.
Today we will look at five defensemen that signed deals in July that will leave their fantasy owners disappointed. In some cases it may not be the contract itself that is bad, but the alternatives that exist around the league in a similar production range that make them free agency losers.
Dan Boyle (NYR)
$4,500,000 / 2 years
For years, Boyle has had a very inflated cap hit while playing in San Jose. That contract expired this summer and with his play in major decline a pay cut was obviously in order. That became a reality when the Rangers signed the veteran to a two-year deal.
For the Rangers, this deal has a chance to be good from a team perspective. Boyle brings a ton of experience to the table and can still move the puck well. The problem is that in the last two years Boyle has finished under the half-a-point-a-game mark. In fantasy leagues, that is what matters and his new contract is still too rich for what he brings. From a team-building perspective, it is a wise idea to look at a cheaper alternative that still brings good production to the table. Use the savings elsewhere on your roster.
Jason Demers (SJ)
$3,400,000 / 2 years
Demers has been in the league for a while and last year finally eclipsed the 30-point mark. This is obviously good news but the new contract that he has signed is not as good from a fantasy perspective. Like the Boyle contract, this is not about real-life value or about fair payment. It is about alternatives.
The risk in cap leagues is that Demers is now being paid north of $3 million and has yet to produce more than secondary scoring numbers. He remains a decent option and may have some better years ahead of him but there are certainly cheaper options out there that can help fill your depth.
Deryk Engelland (CGY)
$2,916,667 / 3 years
Cheap, rugged defensemen are a staple in cap leagues that count PIM, hits and blocks. For the last three years, Engelland was able to bring a lot of toughness and peripheral production to the table along with some surprising point totals at one of the smallest cap hits in the entire league.
Unfortunately, Engelland became a fantasy liability the minute he signed in Calgary. He may be able to match the numbers he produced in Pittsburgh but now costs too much to justify the investment. Look for another rugged third-pairing defenseman to fill the void or go shopping on the wire once the season starts to maybe find the next Radko Gudas.
Dmitry Kulikov (FLA)
$4,333,333 / 3 years
Many owners have held on to Kulikov for years hoping that he finally breaks out. After an impressive 28 points in 58 games back in 2011-12, he has been a major disappointment, combining for just 29 points over the last two years since the lockout.
Now with an inflated contract in hand, Kulikov becomes a very expensive prayer to continue holding on your roster. The risk is that if he produces another dud this year, the cost on your budget is massive. At this point his value may be greater in a trade than on your roster.
Matt Niskanen (WSH)
$5,750,000 / 7 years
From a personal standpoint, Niskanen may have been the biggest winner in this year’s free agency period. But from a fantasy standpoint it is time to abandon ship. After posting 35 points back in 2009 in Dallas, he spent four years posting 21 or fewer points before once again raising his level of play to 46 points in a contract year.
In Washington, Niskanen will probably be a productive player. The problem is that he has been incredibly inconsistent over the years and at this high a price tag you simply cannot afford major letdowns. He is even more risky to own in leagues where dropping him will cost your team a buyout penalty.
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