Capped: Projecting Player Salaries (Part 4)

Alexander MacLean

2018-01-25

 

This week's Capped continues our series with a look into projecting goalie salaries.

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I had a discussion on twitter during the past week between myself, Dobber DFS writer Chris Wassel, and a column reader, going back and forth about the potential contract coming up for Juuse Saros. Unfortunately, I have not gotten into applying the contract model to goalies, so any estimates for goalies are purely speculation. However, after covering skaters for the last three weeks, this discussion about Saros highlighted that it was worth looking into goalies.

As a result, this week we will be focusing on every team’s last line of defense. These individuals are not only tough to predict contracts for, but are generally tough to reliably project their performance on a season by season basis. Goalies also tend to be hugely important for success in both real life and fantasy sports, thus the value of getting your goalie at a bargain price cannot be understated. Additionally, some of the best value goalies are backups, either because they are paid so little and they end up with great ratios (Saros and Aaron Dell come to mind), or because they end up coming in for an injured/struggling starter, and the volume becomes a big asset (Petr Budaj, Carter Hutton, etc).

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Starters vs. Backups

In the cap-era, it is tough for NHL teams to find success with too much money tied up in goaltending, and it also difficult to win without a decent netminder. Pittsburgh managed to win two cups on the back of rookie Matt Murray, while Dallas put together quite a good season a few years ago with the likes of Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen tending the crease. Murray counted $628,333 per season against the Pittsburgh cap both seasons where he won Stanley Cups. Meanwhile, the Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen tandem cost a combined $10,400,000 against the cap. These two contrasting examples were a bit selective, but they do show that there’s not one right way for a team to move forward.

Generally, however, teams will have one starter, who is paid as such, with a more “lightly” paid backup. But what comes first, the big contract, or the starter’s workload? Well it can be either, really. As soon as there is a big contract though, the goalie will get every opportunity to become the starter. This is why Scott Darling keeps getting trotted out there for Carolina. This is why Cam Talbot won the starter’s job back in Edmonton last season, and why there is no controversy in Nashville and San Jose right now. Continuing that thought, it won’t be long until Jake Allen is back getting two out of every three starts.

With the above,