There was a thread created at the DobberHockey forums recently which questioned what strategies should be used in a one year salary cap league. I've only ever been involved in salary cap keeper leagues, but this question piqued my interest. How much of a different approach does one need to take in a one-year compared to a keeper, or is their really much of a difference at all? I'll try and pinpoint the similarities and differences, as well as distinguish a basic strategy that can be utilized in any type of one-year, salary-cap leagues.
What immediately jumps out as the biggest difference is the lack of necessity to pay attention to a player's cap hit beyond the current year. As I've discussed in past articles, long-term contracts are a keeper league team's best friend, but one of the biggest struggles is deciding when to cut bait on the high-paid, aging veterans. Giving up too early on players like Martin St. Louis or Jarome Iginla can be fantasy suicide, as it's never easy to replace a point per game player. One-year leagues eliminate this year-to-year hurdle, but it doesn't relieve GM's completely from being able to gauge a player's ability to produce in any single year. Over the years, we've seen older superstars hit an invisible wall with their production, and while it's no science, pool success will hinge on being able to gauge this occurrence. As a rule of thumb, I make sure to play close attention to these superstars around the age of 34, which seems to be an average age to see decline in a player's production. I start paying close attention to physicality and style of game, dedication to off-ice and off-season training as well as situation. Situation is key as an older player going in to a contract year is likely to find that extra gear in order to earn that nice "transition to retirement" contract. While there are fewer variables to worry about in a one-year league in terms of contract length, knowing what a player is competing for, beyond winning a cup, can affect the production you get out of that player and therefore how you should value that player.
Continuing with the age theme, youth plays a big part as GM's can save a lot of cap-space by utilizing a productive, young player who comes with a low cap-hit. I can't stress enough how important it is to know exactly how the cap structure works, as there ecan be a huge difference in cap-hit if the league follows actual paid salary (eliminating bonuses) or uses the same cap-hit the team takes. Rya