Which rearguard is the better fantasy hockey option – Jason Demers or Jason Garrison.
It's back to defensemen for this week's Cage Match, with an all Jason battle between Jason Demers and Jason Garrison. Which one is the better own for now, and down the road?
Career Path and Contract Status/Cap Implications
Both players defied the odds to get to the NHL, with Garrison (now 29) signed as an undrafted free agent by Florida at age 24 in 2008 and Demers (now 25) selected by the Sharks 186th overall in the 2008 entry draft. But they hit the ground running, as by the end of the 2009-10 season Garrison had appeared in 40 Panthers games and Demers in 51 for San Jose, after which both were in the NHL to stay.
Demers showed early promise, with 21 points in those 51 games; but then he struggled (only recording 40 points in his next 154) before bouncing back this year. Garrison had poor production early, with only 26 points in his first 113 games; but he broke out in 2011-12 with 33 points (including 16 goals – third highest among all NHL defensemen that year) just as he was set to be a UFA.
Garrison was rewarded for his breakout campaign with a six year, $27M deal (through 2017-18) that shocked fans and GMs alike given that he had only 59 career points when it was signed. Demers, on the other hand, still hasn't inked a big contract, having gone from his ELC to a two year, $2.5M deal, to his current one year, $1.5M contract. This makes Demers a cap bargain versus Garrison for the 2013-14 season, and in fact he currently sits within the top 15 in Capgeek's best defensemen bargains. And although the gap between Demers' salary and the $4.6M per year salary (not including bonuses) that Garrison receives will likely shrink after this season, chances are that Demers – who's set to be an RFA, not a UFA – will remain the far cheaper cap hit option for the next several years.
Ice Time (2013-14 through March 15th)
For Demers, this data should be useful since it hopefully will help explain some of the fluctuations in his production. With Garrison, we'll get to examine both his full seasons with Florida as well as his two campaigns in Vancouver (2012-13 under Alain Vigneault, and this season under John Tortorella).