This week's Capped reviews some of the disappointing big-money players of the season.
When things go wrong in your salary cap league, it can be due to not having enough low-cost support players, but it almost always means that your big stars just didn’t perform. This year was no different in that some players with sizeable contracts had even larger expectations that they failed to live up to. Let’s take a walk through some names and go over what went wrong for these big-name players.
Max Pacioretty (LW) – Montreal Canadiens
Cap Hit – $4,500,000 UFA as of July 1st, 2019
Max Pacioretty has carried the weight of this dismal Canadiens team square on his shoulders; and it is getting to him. Based on both what can be seen watching him in game, and in media scrums, the Montreal captain needs a break; and a break he has. Getting the full offseason to recharge leading into a contract year, could be just what the doctor ordered for the 29-year-old. Mind you, he probably also needs some better line mates, a healthy team, and a happier fan base, but you can’t have everything.
Patches came into the season having scored 30 goals in each of the last five full seasons (2012 lockout year excluded). His results before being shut down for the season (with a knee injury) pale in comparison to what was expected based on his draft/acquisition cost. As disappointing as the season may have been for Pacioretty, he was still a bargain for his $4.5 million contract. He should be back next year to providing value as one of the best LW options in terms of bang-for-your-buck. It can’t get worse, can it?
Shea Weber (D) – Montreal Canadiens
Cap Hit – $7,857,143 UFA as of July 1st, 2026(!)
Sticking with the “it can’t get worse” point of view with the Canadiens, Weber’s season also left something to be desired, though maybe it wasn’t completely his fault. Brought in to be a steady leader and anchor the blueline, Weber’s presence made a positive impact when he was healthy. Unfortunately, a nagging foot injury really took the wind out of his sails when he tried to play through it. Weber will be recovering from surgery on his injured foot throughout the summer, and barring any setbacks, should be ready to start the season. If he can come back at full health, maybe he can pick up where he left off with his 51-point pace and excellent peripheral stats.
However, there is also bad news. Weber was already looking a little slower out on the ice, and if this surgery doesn’t correct an outstanding issue that was causing mobility issues, then it means the rugged defenceman isn’t going to be able to carry a team on defence the way he used to. This leads to the question, does Weber seem primed to fall off a cliff a-la Brent Seabrook? I wouldn’t be putting money on it, but it wouldn’t be all too surprising either.
Duncan Keith (D) – Chicago Blackhawks
Cap Hit – $5,538,462 UFA as of July 1st, 2023
Stick a fork in him. He’s pretty much done as a fantasy contributor in cap leagues.
That’s putting it nicely. Keith has registered only one goal this season, alongside 30 assists, only six of which are of the primary variety. His lopsided secondary-assist ratio is most comparable to that of T.J. Brodie and Mike Green. Neither makes a great case for a positive outlook on a Keith rebound season next year. The year before, the group consisted of Oliver Ekman-Larsson (bogged down by an anemic Arizona offence), Mark Streit, and Paul Martin. Green likely makes the best comparable, as a former premier puck-mover on a declining team. If Green had value in your league last season or this year, you may yet find a role for Keith, but the odds don’t look good.
Chicago doesn’t have the makeup of a team that can hit the reset button and turn things around in a year. The Blackhawks were trending downwards even before they made the ill-advised Artemi Panarin for Brandon Saad swap. Teammate Brent Seabrook took a dive off the relevance cliff, and Keith appears to be next. Keith also fails to provide much value in any peripheral stats, meaning it is only his name value keeping him on fantasy teams at the moment.
*As a side note, you have to wonder if the “distinguished members of the hockey community” who ranked the NHL’s top 100 players only one year ago wish they could have a do-over on this pick.
Jeff Carter (C) – Los Angeles Kings
Cap Hit – $5,272,727 UFA as of July 1st, 2022
Jeff Carter missed the majority of the season after suffering a freak skate laceration injury six games into the season. When he left, he was stuck at zero goals on the season, and looked a little slow after the gate. However, Carter has been back for almost a month now, and has been playing almost at a point-per-game pace since. We saw a similar sequence of events last year with Jonathan Huberdeau. The Panthers left winger missed the majority of last year with a sliced achillies tendon. He returned late in the season, scoring at a point-per-game pace to close out the year.
Huberdeau has continued his pace with a very successful season this year, and despite Carter being a few years his senior, there is no reason why we can’t expect Carter to fully bounce back next year.
Corey Perry (RW) – Anaheim Ducks
Cap Hit – $8,625,000 UFA as of July 1st, 2021
In one of my leagues (non-cap league, 12-team, keep 11), I scored Perry as the second overall player in our draft last fall. I thought it was a slam dunk pick, and would pay big dividends, especially in goals and power-play points. Needless to say, I was sorely mistaken. Corey Perry has put up a disappointing year fantasy-wise, even without factoring in his monster cap hit.
Perry seems to fit into the mold of player that plays a bit more of a grinding game, and those players have a history of falling off a little faster. This is augmented by the fact that Perry has seen his role reduced with the emergence of other options throughout the lineup. Rickard Rakell proving himself as a 30-goal threat has really been the biggest hit to Perry’s value, and with youngsters like Ondrej Kase stepping up, plus Nick Ritchie being groomed for bigger minutes, there just isn’t as much opportunity to go around. Ryan Getzlaf’s value/production hasn’t really changed, making it evident who was carrying the duo in previous years. Having an $8 million player like Perry, whose value is tied to someone else isn’t a recipe for success. Keep an eye on Perry’s line mates and ice time, because his value will be strongly affected by both.
That caps off another Thursday, and thanks for reading. To those of you still fighting for a fantasy championship, best of luck!
You can find me on twitter @alexdmaclean