Daoust reviews this season’s trade market in cap leagues…
The first full season of the new NHL collective bargaining agreement (CBA) has been an unusual one for all fantasy hockey managers. Some of the rule changes have accelerated player movement as teams adjust to the new landscape. This season we have seen examples of retention of salary facilitating some trades that would not have happened under the old CBA. This includes the unexpected trade of Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers. The fantasy implications were massive as Tim Thomas was immediately out as number-one goaltender in Florida while the young Eddie Lack became the new man in Vancouver.
In salary cap leagues the impact of the new rules has been even more significant. With fewer cap dollars available and no rollback on existing deals some players were forced to take pay cuts. This had the effect of creating cap bargains that can provide excellent value to your fantasy squad. In turn, this development also made some of the older inflated contracts a tougher pill to swallow.
However, the effect of the new CBA extends far beyond just the individual value of players. Last week we looked at the impact of the lower cap ceiling on the quality of unclaimed free agents in one of my head-to-head dynasty leagues, the UHL which is composed mostly of forum regulars and staff members of this website. The tighter financial climate resulted in many productive players, mostly highly-paid veterans, remain on the waiver wire as teams opted for cheaper alternatives to round out their rosters.
Before we go any farther, here is the breakdown of the league in question:
United Hockey League (dynasty) – currently in semi-final round
Scoring setup: Head-to-Head
Pro Rosters: 23 + 4 IR (3LW, 3C, 3RW, 3F, 6D, 1G, 4BN)
Farm Rosters: 27 (max 160 GP for farm eligibility) + one-year protection for newly-drafted prospects
Categories: G, A, +/-, PIM, SOG, GWG, PPP, SHP, Hit, Blk, FOW, W, GAA, SV, SV%, SO
Salary Cap Ceiling: same as NHL
A trade market lacking action
Obviously, the new CBA has also had a major effect on trading in the UHL. The rule changes led to the majority of teams being close to the salary cap ceiling, including many of the non-contenders. Obviously, having some free cap space facilitates trading. When the opposite happens, it makes trading very difficult as most teams are unable to accept more salary than they are giving away in a deal. The only way to proceed is for one or both teams to add more to the trade so that the salaries on both sides even out.
Unfortunately, this approach only works when teams have dead weight on their rosters and when the players in question are enough to make the trade legal financially. The league’s contenders, who generally manage their teams very well, do not own players that they are willing to just throw away. This increases the complexity of making trades work and often reduces the list of potential trade partners.