When seeking advice on fantasy hockey trades, most people will tell you to go with proven talent over unproven potential stars. There is a limited amount of space at the top of the NHL pyramid and those who are at that level have shown that they can maintain a high level of play over a number of years. Meanwhile, the unproven talent may or may not achieve a high level of success at some point in the future.
Unfortunately, the stars of the NHL come at a high price tag. This is a logical idea –players are mostly paid relative to their level of production. The chart below shows Dobber’s projected point totals for each forward (no names attached) and the associated cap hit for that player. Clearly, there is a relation between production and how much the player costs on your payroll.
Now that this relation is established, we can use this information to help make decisions in building a team in a league that has a salary cap. Evidently, managing the team budget is not as simple as adding the best players available. You have to find the best combination of talent that fits under the cap ceiling. Your best players are the most important to your team’s success, so we will start there.
We like owning star players because of the massive production they provide from a single roster spot. But their NHL contract can be influenced by a number of other factors including marketability and intangibles. It is worth investigating whether or not the NHL’s elite forwards are worth the money they are paid in fantasy hockey. For this we are going to look at each player’s production efficiency in points per million dollars of salary:
The results show that the star players are worth the money they are paid, even in fantasy hockey. There are obviously exceptions but the trend line shows that production efficiency actually increases as you move up the NHL ranks. It is important to know that your best players are not in fact hurting your team.
The chart also reveals a great tool that can be used to complement your star players. Without question, efficiency is key in cap leagues and there are many great bargains in the 40-70 point range. The more efficiently you spend your cap dollars in that point range, the more freedom you have to own and keep superstars at the top of your roster. Furthermore, they can be helpful in accommodating other contract renewals on your roster, for example when Claude Giroux’s current contract with a $3.75-million cap hit expires at the end of the 2013-14 season.
Unfortunately, in past Capped articles we learned that long-term bargain contracts are extremely rare. Most of the cap bargains are very good players who are nearing the end of their existing contract and are clearly due for a big payday. In a one-year league, this is not an issue. However, in a keeper league you will not be able to rely on them as super bargains long-term. You will have to decide if they are part of your core and either accommodate the new bigger contract or move on and find alternative options. In a future article we will look at methods to obtain good cheap labor to round out your roster.
Using this information you should have the tools necessary to allocate cap dollars more effectively in your keeper league. Do not be afraid of Steven Stamkos’ $7.5-million contract or even Nicklas Backstrom’s $6.7-million cap hit. Those are inflated salaries, but their production justifies the money. But most importantly, you must retain that a player’s cost is a variable that greatly impacts his fantasy value and that each player on your roster affects the amount of flexibility you have to improve your team. If you can manage your team’s talent and budget properly, you may be able to avoid a plateau and break through to win the championship in your league.
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