Capped: First Quarter of 2018 vs. First Quarter of 2017 – Trends

Alexander MacLean

2018-11-22

This week's Capped covers some similarities between the first quarter of last year’s season, and this year’s.

****

Happy American Thanksgiving to those South of the border. To my Canadian brethren, and every other non-American, happy Thursday.

 

Did you know that in the salary cap era, if your NHL team is in the playoffs after games finish tonight, you’re 74% likely to watch them play at least one playoff series? Well, based on the stats since the cap was implemented, that has been the case.

 

It is surprising to see the majority of the cup winners from the last number of years toiling closer to the basement than anything. Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Los Angeles are struggling, while Vancouver, Buffalo, and the New York squads are much higher in the standings than many (including yours truly) expected.

 

If we stick with three-quarter mark of how many teams keep their playoff spot, my guess is that the New York duo, Vancouver, and Calgary drop out, with Anaheim, Arizona, Washington, and Carolina rising to take their places.

 

This is the beauty of the salary cap era. Parity, variety, and completely unpredictable seasons. All of this has to be understood to win in a salary cap era, whether it is in fantasy or in the real show.

 

****

In the fantasy game, how then do we deal with the parity, and how do we approach the American Thanksgiving benchmark for players?

 

Last season at American Thanksgiving, Steven Stamkos was your scoring leader, Jaden Schwartz was fourth (30 points in 22 games), Vladislav Namestnikov was scoring at a point-per-game clip, while Claude Giroux and Evgeni Malkin were chugging along, about to burst, scoring 80 and 78 points respectively in the last three-quarters of the season.

 

Let’s draw some comparisons to last year:

 

2017: Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov

2018: Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen

 

In 2017, we saw a power duo take over the first quarter – one of which was an already established superstar, while the other was just scratching the surface. If you owned both, you were probably running away with your league. If you owned one, you were probably still doing very well. Sound at all like this year? It’s almost the exact same, except this year’s feature duo