Capped: The Impact of Injuries

Eric Daoust



Strategies for finding injury replacements in your cap league…


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. Two weeks ago 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, most of them highly-paid veterans, remain on the waiver wire as teams opted for cheaper alternatives to round out their rosters.


Last week we looked at how the new rules affected the trade market in the same dynasty league. The aforementioned difficult cap climate made it much more difficult to complete trades because most teams, even the non-contenders, entered the season with little or no free cap space.  When trades were completed it often included a player thrown in simply to even out the salaries on both sides. This remained a problem until some season-ending injuries gave teams some free space to go out and make some trades.


Before we go any farther, here is the breakdown of the league in question:

United Hockey League (dynasty) – currently in the final round

Scoring setup: Head-to-Head
Teams: 24
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


The deeper you are in the season the more you get long-term injuries that spill into the offseason. And in most leagues that means the player is no longer on your cap payroll. In this league the injuries helped intensify the movement at the trade table. Not only were teams able to legally complete trades without adding a buffer player to even out salaries, but the fallen talents also created a demand to replace the lost production heading into the playoffs.


When injuries open up some cap space on your roster there are two ways to immediately acquire talent: trading and the waiver wire. The trade route is obvious but the waiv