Capped: Players in the Last Year of Entry-Level Status

Alexander MacLean



Last week’s Capped article went over some key players who are going into contract years, that you should pay attention to next year. It is no secret that there has been a trend of players putting up career numbers right before they are due a new contract. As a result, just like looking for the fourth-year breakout, and the player jumping up the depth chart, targeting some players in contract years for the next season can pay off in spades.

On the flip side, in cap leagues, we have to be aware of the possibility of a big pay-day. Having an unexpectedly large contract dropped on your fantasy team can throw a wrench in even the best laid plans. Even coming out of entry-level contracts (ELCs), many players are opting to jump straight into a long-term deal, rather than taking the bridge contracts, so we have to be ready for big paydays earlier than ever.

All the players listed below will be coming off entry level contracts next summer and can sign extensions at any time. Some of them will be sooner rather than later.



Auston Matthews & Mitch Marner – Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto’s young duo is going to get a well-deserved pay raise, while the team seems to be trying to emulate the strategy out of Pittsburgh from the last ten years. If these contracts come in at the expected prices, The Maple Leafs will soon have over a third of their cap space tied up in Marner, Matthews and John Tavares.

Matthews and Tavares should be forming an incredible duo at the centre ice position for the next number of years, and it would not be surprising to have Matthews sign a very similar contract to the one Tavares inked just under two weeks ago. Coming in on a long-term contract at an AAV of $11 million, Matthews would be paid according to his talent and potential, while not completely tying the hands of new GM Kyle Dubas.

Meanwhile, Marner projects somewhere in the $7-8 million range, between the recent contracts of Leon Draisaitl and David Pastrnak