Who’s truly best for your fantasy squad – Chris Kunitz or Thomas Vanek?
This week I'm featuring two players – Chris Kunitz and Thomas Vanek – who finished with identical points stats (68 points in 78 games) in 2013-14. But which one will fare better in 2014-15 and beyond?
Quick note – I realize that I included Vanek in another Cage Match a few months ago, but the lure of comparing him and Kunitz – with their identical points stats – was too difficult to pass up. Plus, this time I'm including additional luck-based metrics. Put it this way – this will be worth your time even if you read the prior Vanek Cage Match.
Career Path and Contract Status/Cap Implications
Kunitz has gone from being undrafted and then waived by two separate teams (topping out at 60 points for Anaheim in 2006-07) to being a legitimate star for Pittsburgh (where he's bested the 60 point mark twice and had a point per game season in 2012-13) and a member of the 2014 Olympic gold medal Canadian men's hockey team.
Vanek also exceeded a point per game in 2012-13, his first time doing so since back in 2006-07. The 68 points he tallied in 2013-14 (between the Sabres, Islanders, and Canadiens) was actually his third highest full season total, and most since 73 points in 2010-11. And although Vanek – a former fifth overall draft pick – is four years younger than Kunitz, he's actually played in more NHL games (663 vs. 659).
The big unknown is the details of the UFA contract Vanek will sign this summer. But it's safe to assume his new deal will dwarf – maybe even double – Kunitz's ($3.85M per season through 2016-17), allowing us to already bank on Kunitz being a significant bargain versus Vanek in cap leagues.
I broke down Vanek's Ice Time for each of his 2013-14 teams, to help get a better idea of where he might fit on a new team. Kunitz didn't line up alongside the injured Sidney Crosby for the majority of 2010-11 and 2011-12, so it'll be interesting to see his Ice Time in those seasons versus the other two.
Total Ice Time per game (amount ahead of second highest forward)