Over the past few weeks, I have focused my player profiles based on their impact in one-year leagues. I will be doing much more of that over the coming weeks, but with the current stalemate between Bettman and Fehr a lot of one-year league’s drafts have been postponed. Most keeper league drafts are proceeding as scheduled though, so this week I wanted to profile a player who has great value in a keeper league: Dmitry Kulikov.
As usual, I am going to take a look inside the numbers and the FHG tools to provide some good value, bur first I would like to start with the 2 key premises I like to use when injecting some youth onto my keeper league team:
1: Don’t reach for upside!
Far too often, I see managers drafting players for their potential as opposed to drafting players for what they have proven they can do. Every GM (myself included) wants to find that “next big guy”; we all want to prove that we are smarter than the other GMs in the league. Where GMs sometimes miss the boat, is when they draft these players as if they are already that valuable. If your amazing GM skills tell you that player A (who scored 40 points last year) is going to break out and hit 60 points this year and you draft him as a 60 point player, you have gained nothing. You may have been right in your prediction but you have done nothing to gain value for your team. What you need to do is draft him around other 40-45 point players and then reap the rewards when he hits 60. It’s a simple enough concept, but it’s one that I see GMs miss on time and time again. Nothing makes me laugh harder than when a rival GM picks “the next Lucic” and he picks him when the current Lucic is still on the board.
If you draft a player as if he has already reached his potential, then your best case scenario is that he does indeed breakout and you get fair value for your pick. If you are wrong with this pick though, you have crippled your team by getting a low value player with a high value pick.
On the other hand if you draft a rising star as if he will match his last year’s total: your best case scenario is that he does breakout and you get a high value player for a low value pick. Worst case: you simply get fair value for your pick.
The whole point of drafting players that you expect to improve over last year is to use the projected improvement to gain value for your team. If you spend a higher pick in order to get the player, then you eaten away all of the upside in owning him and wasted any value that you may have gained.
2: Contribute now, dominate later
If your keeper league doesn’t have a farm team and every player you own has to be on your active roster, it makes it much more difficult to inject some youth to your team on the fly. This is the case in my keeper league: it is critical for your bench players to contribute in a daily league with no farm team. If I held Stefan Elliott and Jon Huberdeau for all of last year, I would have no shot at winning the title because I would have been wasting bench spots on prospects. For a rebuilding team, holding on to those two players isn’t a bad idea, but if you are making a push for a title it is much harder to get some youth onto your roster without jeopardizing the current year. It is an extremely valuable find if you can identify a player who hasn’t yet broken out in the minds of most GMs, but who is playing a regular role in the NHL and making contributions to your fantasy hockey team. Maybe the points aren’t there yet, but if they are contributing in other categories already you can afford to roster them while you wait for the breakout.
With those two principles in mind, what I am going to do today is show you how to obtain upside value in a young keeper player while not sacrificing value to your one year outlook. There are a number of players you can do this with and Dmitri Kulikov is a great example
(Today, I will do my analysis using stats from the 2011/12 season and the settings from my personal keeper league, the WFHL. It is a 12 team Yahoo league, counting G, A, +/-, PPP, SHP, SOG,GWG, Hits, GAA, Sv%, W, SO)
Let’s take a look at his Fantasy Hockey Geek numbers from last to see his value:
You can see that in a league of this format, Kulikov was only the 184th most valuable player in the league. He was the 61st most valuable defenseman. He only scored 28 points and that is a career high for him! Depending on the depth of your league and the keeper rules, Dmitry Kulikov could very well be available in your draft this year.
A closer look inside the numbers shows how Kulikov already provides more value than the numbers above:
- Kulikov held this value, while only playing 58 games. If you prorate his stats for an entire season, he will be much higher
- His shooting % was 3.8% last year, compared to 7.2% the year before.
- His shots, Hits and PPP are all very good results – especially given the fact that he missed 24 games.
- One final non-number point: Kulikov amassed these statistics with Jason Garrison still manning PP1. With Garrison off to Vancouver, Kulikov should see some more opportunities.
Let’s take these factors and run them through the “what-if” analysis tool provided at Fantasy Hockey Geek as part of the Season Toolkit. The scenario I will run, is to prorate all of his stats for 82 games AND apply a more realistic 6% to his shooting %.
Looking at the above scenario, Kulikov’s FHG value would jump to 54.3, making him the 98th most valuable player in the entire league and the 29th most valuable defenseman. The value that I am calculating here doesn’t include any of the additional upside that Kulikov still has. This is what he is worth in the current stage of his development!
I do recognize that Kulikov playing 82 games is far from a slam dunk, and the increase in shooting % also isn’t guaranteed, although it is very likely. Looking at the numbers above though, it is pretty safe to conclude that Kulikov’s current value will easily match his current draft position of 147. Remember: we are looking to draft guys who will be FAIR value for the pick if they hit the LOW end of their potential. At 147, Kulikov looks to be exactly that.
If you draft Kulikov today, he is ready to start giving you fair value for your pick today. His solid totals in shots, hits and PPP make him a valuable defenseman even though his career high is only 28 points. On top of that, he has a ton more upside to give: Dobber’s Fantasy Guide projects Kulikov’s upside to be more than double his career high in points. Considering that he is developing in Russia during the lockout and Garrison is no longer in his way on the PP, I believe that Kulikov is primed to breakout and give you the upside sooner rather than later.
Kulikov is a great example of how you can get younger without doing a full blown rebuild in your keeper league. He will provide your team with good value now and huge upside for the future. Depending on your keeper league set-up, Kulikov may not have actually been kept last year. If he wasn’t, I would suggest making an effort to get him onto your team. I have displayed how his value for next year could easily have him as a top 30 defenseman in a league of this format and his upside is more like top 15. If you can draft him as the 35th defenseman in your league, your team will benefit this year and continue to benefit even more for many years to come! Moves like this will allow you to stay competitive year after year without having to do a full blown rebuild. Why build a champion when you can build a dynasty?
To find other future studs who can contribute NOW, make sure to check out Fantasy Hockey Geek. And check back again next week for another Geek of the Week!