Capped: Slow Starts and Cap Predictions
I love getting back into the swing of hockey, having games available to watch all night, fantasy lineups to set, news to over-analyze and trade discussions to mull over. Last week’s Capped article seemed to be very well received, and I have even re-read it myself a few times over the last couple of days. The gist of it: don’t overreact to the small sample size from a new season!
Building off last week, there are quite a few stars who have started off the year pointless through the first week. Names such as Steven Stamkos, Roman Josi, Brayden Schenn, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Alex Pietrangelo, and Kevin Shattenkirk have yet to hit the scoresheet. We know not to worry about them, as the points will come. However, there are a fair share of youngsters that haven’t yet notched their first point of the season. The rookies are always a little more variable, and are a key to any successful salary cap team, so we’ll take a look at some of them.
The second-year Philadelphia Flyer hasn’t been able to bust through and land top line minutes. He is currently stuck behind Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and a few others, with no end in sight. He started off slowly last season, but by the end of the year his ice time was up, and he found a comfort zone. The sophomore slump is a very real thing, but with the right ice time Patrick should be just fine, with a chance at 50 points. His first two games this season, his ice time has been almost exactly the 15 minutes per game he finished off last year with.
Patrick unfortunately only played three minutes in last night’s game before taking a stick to the face. Patrick was on the bench for a few minutes talking to the trainer, in no visible distress, only to then walk down the tunnel and not return to the game. Hopefully the move was just precautionary, and there isn’t anything more serious going on. Keep your eyes on it, and in the meantime, follow our injury guru Brennan DeSouza on twitter as your best bet for quick updates.
Thomas made the St. Louis Blues out of camp, but with the crowded forward group, he isn’t getting the opportunity he needs to succeed. He is a player that thrives on being the focus of a team, logging big minutes and big responsibility. Without that kind of deployment, expect Thomas to start slowly through the first half of the season. The chicken and egg slow start along with not enough ice time may lead to a few scratches and perhaps even a demotion by Christmas. He will be a stud down the line, but it’s tough to see him breaking through this year unless the injury bug really bites the Blues.
The Boston second liner has started off slowly, watching his team get steamrolled in game one, while the top line dominated in games two and three for the Bruins. There are some positive signs with DeBrusk, the ice time is consistent, his power play ice time is over one-minute per game, and his shot rate matches last year’s two-per game rate. The top line will have games where they come out flat, and in those games, expect DeBrusk’s line to come through.
Brad Marchand is also prone to missing games due to suspensions. Should he miss any time, DeBrusk is the obvious choice to be promoted to the top line, where he would receive a short-term boost in value.
I haven’t been able to watch him yet this season (hoping to see him live in Buffalo October 25th), but he seems to be taking the adjustment as most 18-year-old defencemen will, slowly. He is playing second pair minutes, but he hasn’t been gifted the top power play time yet. He can earn that as the year goes on. Dahlin was hyped up with the draft and his near-limitless potential, but expectations should have been tempered on him to start. I know Michael Clifford especially, among others around this site, have been vocal about trying to knock him down a rung for this season. Erik Karlsson scored 26 points, then 45, then 77 in his first three seasons. It would not be shocking to see a similar progression from Dahlin. In one-year leagues you can sell the hype. In cap-leagues, no one should be selling.
The contract prediction worksheet I have been working on over the last year or so has been put on the backburner the last few months with life getting busy. I’m trying to jump back into it now. Hopefully I will have some insights and updates on predictions as the season goes on, ideally with a full free-agency list accessible to all of you for after the season ends. Looking at the worksheet, here are a few notes on topics I have noticed in the last few days.
Ryan Hartman has to be one of the best bang for buck contracts when the player was signed. He is the only player currently in the worksheet that has a difference of over 200%, and has one of the highest pure value differences between the predicted contract and what he ended up signing for this past summer. Two takeaways: One, as a depth forward in cap leagues, you could do worse than Hartman as a 30-point player with some peripherals. Two, David Poile again gets his players to take a pay-cut to make a deal. You can bank on that with every extension coming up.
Assuming healthy seasons with a historically similar production rate, Matthews and Marner are predicted to net $12 million and $9 million respectively. I think Dubas plays hard ball with them to try and follow the Nashville model, shaving $1 million off of both. Expect full eight-year deals here.
It’s still not too late to get the DobberHockey 2018-2019 Fantasy guide. If you have a late draft, this cap put you over the top, meanwhile for those already settled into their teams, the projections can help keep your expectations grounded when players get off to hot starts. The guide also includes a heads up on injuries to keep an eye on, scheduling quirks to take advantage of, as well as upside and likely outputs for players, giving you a better projected baseline on future value for keeper leagues.
Predicting where the NHL salary cap is going to be in future seasons is not easy. The excel spread sheet I use to track my cap league rosters is currently just set up to show the salary cap increasing by two percent year after year. This is one topic I have had on my radar to do a deeper dive into at some point later in the season. Chime in in the comments or find me on twitter if you would be interested in me covering this, and if you happen to have any insights worth sharing.
With another lockout looming, this is your reminder that around the last lockout in 2012, the salary cap remained stagnant, only jumping a full year after the lockout season finished. As a counter-point, this time around the Seattle expansion looks to be happening right on top of it. After the Vegas expansion, we had a much bigger jump in the cap, about double the average jump over the last few years.
All that to say don’t get ahead of yourself expecting another big jump in the salary cap like this past summer. Build in some cap flexibility this summer when possible.
That caps off this week’s article, thanks for reading. As always, you can find me on twitter @alexdmaclean.
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