When building your keeper league team or doing a fantasy draft for a one-year league, you are building your team, piece by piece, in an effort to have the most productive roster possible. However, if you are in a cap league, each player has an associated cost. In order to win the championship, you must get more value out of your available cap dollars than your opponents.
This week we are going to look at five fantasy-relevant defensemen who may be counter-productive to your efforts to win your pool. For various reasons people may see value in these players, but when crunching numbers the facts show that these rearguards should be avoided. Cheaper alternatives to each of these players can be found here.
For the purpose of this articles, only defensemen projected by Dobber to finish above 25 points this season are considered. It is not difficult to point out that a non-productive player with a high price tag is a bad investment.
Brent Seabrook (CHI) - $5,800,000
Brent Seabrook is one of the best defensemen in the world. However, he is paid primarily for his work at the defensive end of the ice. He does have a 48-point season under his belt in 2010-11, which may make it tempting to own him due to his popularity and hope for a return to his peak number. This requires a deeper looking into his career numbers.
To Seabrook’s credit, he is very durable. Aside from his rookie campaign, he has played 78 or more games each year. What we also see is that aside from his career year, he has always produced between 24 and 34 points. Even if he was a 50-point defenseman, he would still be slightly overpaid from an offensive perspective.
In a roto setting, Seabrook can be very valuable. But in a points-only or points-heavy setting you are probably better off looking elsewhere, especially when there are 30-point defensemen available who are paid less than $2 million.
Lubomir Visnovsky (NYI) - $5,600,000
A lot has been made about Lubomir Visnovsky’s off-ice battle to try to block a trade to the New York Islanders, but there are plenty of other factors that create some uncertainty heading into this season. Last year was an incredible disappointment when the veteran posted just 27 points. He was also involved in a car accident this summer and has already contemplated retirement.
Now 36, you have to wonder about Visnovsky’s motivation over a full season. It is worth noting that in 2010-11 he had a monster 68 points, but that is a lofty number for any rearguard to attain. While an improving Islander club will help him get some points, it may not be enough to justify such a high salary. Even if he gets back to 40 points, his value per dollar still ranks near the bottom out of all defensemen sampled for this article.
Kimmo Timonen (PHI) - $6,333,333
It may be a popular option to look in Kimmo Timonen’s direction this season because of the multitude of injuries that have devastated the Philadelphia Flyers’ blueline, including the potential end of Chris Pronger’s career. He will get a ton of ice time in all situations, which could lead to some extra points.
However, you will quickly realize that his cap hit is over $6 million. If you are in a goal-heavy league, Timonen’s value takes another negative hit as he has scored six or fewer goals in each of the last four seasons. In all, he ranks 10th among all defensemen in cap hit. His production simply does not justify such a high dollar amount.
Andrei Markov (MTL) - $5,750,000
Andrei Markov has practically vanished from the hockey world over the last two years after sustaining a pair of serious knee injuries and missing months of action due to surgeries and rehab. He did return at the end of last season but was clearly a step behind the play due to the long layoff. With another summer of training to help add additional strength to his knee, we may be ready to see Markov return to fantasy relevance.
There are two problems with Markov going forward. Obviously, there is a concern about his durability. He has played a grand total of 20 games over the past two seasons, which would make Rick Dipietro blush. It is not known how Markov’s knee will respond over a long season, and it is certainly possible that he will have to sit out some nights due to soreness. Many are also wondering about Markov’s level of play. In the 13 games that he played in 2011-12, he had just three points. His average ice time was a mere 18 minutes but he did receive nearly four minutes of power play time per outing.
It is probably unrealistic to assume a return to 60-point form, but one point every two games is a more reasonable assumption. Given the risk for further injury, his point total is unlikely to exceed what many cheaper alternatives are capable of producing.
Sergei Gonchar (OTT) - $5,500,000
A lot of things went well for the Ottawa Senators last year, including some unexpected top-level production from Milan Michalek and Erik Karlsson, as well as the emergence of several rookies. One of the benefactors was Sergei Gonchar, who was able to post 37 points after getting just 27 the prior season.
Karlsson accomplished the rare feat of topping 70 points from the blueline and could easily fall under that mark this year. Meanwhile, Michalek will be in tough to match last season’s 35 goals and 65 points. Both factors, including the possibility of some sophomore slumps throughout the roster, would negatively impact other Senators, including Gonchar.
To summarize, unless the team is able to re-create the perfect storm that boosted the offensive totals of so many players, there is bound to be some disappointments. Gonchar, who is now 38 years old, could be due for a small regression in points. His cap hit is only justifiable if he can return to the form he showed in Pittsburgh when he was constantly challenging the 60-point mark. Those days are behind him.