Capped: Playing Either/Or with Different Salary Levels
The regular season is winding down, and with it, we are almost to the offseason, when we can start preparing our teams for next year. Whether your league is bigger or smaller, the start players are the ones that play the biggest roles. However, being the most talked about players, their names get a reputation for producing, even if they may not be living up to the hype anymore. This week we’re going to lay out the stats for two skaters, without giving the name associated with them, discuss the contracts of both players, and then reveal the names with the hope that you can use this new perspective when evaluating players in your own leagues.
Numbers are from before Wednesday night’s games.
Player A – 72 GP, 11 G, 49 A, plus-3, 127 SOG, 91 Hits, 15 PPPs, 730 FOWs – AAV $8,000,000
Player B – 73 GP, 25 G, 29A, minus-7, 209 SOG, 54 Hits, 16 PPPs, 977 FOWs – AAV $5,500,000
Here we have two first-line centremen. One of them is paid like a first line centre, while the other is only the 40th highest paid centre in the league. Both have put up over 50 points through 70 games this season, with varying peripherals. Player A lacks in shots, but provides over one hit per game, while Player B is a faceoff ace, and doesn’t hurt you in the other categories.
Which one would you rather on your cap league team? For me, I would certainly rather pay $5.5 million for the production of Player B, instead of paying $2.5 million more for hardly any upgrade.
Player A is the first-line centre for Nashville, Ryan Johansen, while Player B is the most reliable centre on Vancouver, Bo Horvat. Johansen has much more value attached to his name, due to his single season where he hit the 70-point plateau, while Horvat is hiding away as a growing asset in the far northwest geographical corner of the league. In a fantasy league, you could almost certainly get Horvat and a plus for Johansen, while in cap leagues it could end up being more of a one-for-one deal. If you can make it happen, you’re likely better off with the younger Horvat, and the extra $2.5 million in cap space.
Additional note. Johansen is only plus three on a Nashville team with a goal differential of +27, and after starting two-thirds of his shifts in the offensive zone. Horvat on the other hand, is only minus seven, and has started 60% of his shifts in the defensive zone. His contract also runs through to the summer of 2023. If you want a younger version of Patrice Bergeron, a player who just keeps getting better with age, look no further.
Player A – 52 GP, 18 G, 16 A, plus-7, 132 SOG, 22 Hits, 6 PPPs – AAV $6,000,000
Player B – 67 GP, 28 G, 18 A, minus-6, 194 SOG, 29 Hits, 7 PPPs – AAV $3,000,000
Both wingers are in their fourth season. Player A is on pace for a season worse than his second and third years in the league, while Player B is showing signs of a breakout. Having played 15 more games also helps player B, but either way he is pacing to more goals and shots than player A, even had he been healthy, while the other production is similar. Both are more useful in points-only leagues, but not as much in leagues where more and more of the utility categories are counted.
Personally, I would want the same production at half the price, even with the minus attached.
Player A is one of the skilled wingers on a deep Winnipeg team, the underused Nikolaj Ehlers. Player B is the underappreciated Andreas Athanasiou, trying to help prop up the mostly barren fantasy wasteland that are the Detroit Red Wings. Based on team alone, Ehlers has the higher perceived value, and the career stats bear that out. However, having been moved off of the main powerplay unit, Ehlers has dropped off, and hasn’t been able to carry his own line when not playing with the bigger guns. Athanasiou on the other hand, is seeing more powerplay time, and has some of the best scoring rates per time on ice in the league. If anyone wants to make a friendly bet on which of these two has the best career season when all is said and done, I’ll put my money on the Red Wings winger.
Player A – 66 GP, 10 G, 37 A, plus-19, 169 SOG, 52 Hits, 95 Blocks, 23 PPPs – AAV $7,875,000
Player B – 59 GP, 6 G, 42 A, minus-3, 139 SOG, 51 Hits, 53 Blocks, 29 PPPs – AAV $5,250,000
Player C – 73 GP, 9 G, 48 A, minus-16, 188 SOG, 37 Hits, 68 Blocks, 37 PPPs – AAV $6,350,000
Three defencemen here, the first one is someone that is being viewed as one of the better fantasy assets on defence, while the other two provide different options at a cheaper cost. Player B is younger and has yet to establish his ceiling. Player C is past 30 years old but is as reliable as they come (as long as you can stomach the plus-minus). None are your traditional bruiser defenceman that will rack up hits and blocks on top of the offence, such as a Shea Weber would. However, offence seems to be the name of the game, and these guys all bring it.
Personally, I would take Player B on my team first, then Player C, and then Player A at these cap hits. The point distributions are similar, each pacing for close to 10 goals and 50-55 assists in a full season. Shot rates are similar, Player A has an edge in blocks, while Player C loses some value in the plus-minus and hits categories. The powerplay production drops Player A down a rung though, and that can be key to get out of your top defencemen in any league.
Recently voted the top defenceman in the NHL players poll, player A is the stalwart defenceman for the best team in the league, and it seems his name value gets propped up a little as a result. However, with Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and the rest of the forwards eating up all the production, there just isn’t as much leftover for our Player A, Victor Hedman. Player B is milking his exposure to Boston’s top line, yet somehow Torey Krug doesn’t carry the same name value yet. Player C is Keith Yandle, consistent as they come. Well, on offence anyway. His plus-minus could be in line for an improvement next year with some growth in Florida as well. A little older, but for now, just as productive. Feel free to try and change my mind on Victor Hedman in the comments.
Player A – 66 GP, 27 G, 24 A, minus-2, 151 PIMs, 239 SOG, 146 Hits, 10 PPPs – AAV $7,000,000
Player B – 55 GP, 21 G, 16 A, plus-16, 113 PIMs, 113 SOG, 162 Hits, 5 PPPs – AAV $5,166,666
This is for those of you in the leagues that still count penalty minutes as a positive, in addition to all of the other usual stats. Two of the most valuable players in these leagues (both wingers) are put side by side here so that we can make a case Player B’s contract is not as far-fetched as some believe. Looking at a per-game pace, these players provide some relatively equal value. Player A takes a large edge in shot volume, while Player B has an edge in plus-minus. However, both play on very good teams, so that may be less of a factor come next year. Add in that both players have a few short-handed points this season, and there really isn’t anything these guys don’t do.
Personally, I would be happy owning either player in leagues that count all of these stats. However, Player A is being lauded as the fantasy MVP for multi-category leagues, while Player B seems to actually be putting up worse numbers than were generally expected of him this year. He could be a bit of a value buy this offseason.
Player A is the enigmatic Evander Kane, who seems to have finally found some consistency in California with the Sharks. Player B is the controversial Tom Wilson, who, despite performing very well in the supplemental categories, is actually scoring at a pace that gives him value in even the shallowest of leagues with any kind of peripheral categories. Both are must owns if you can get your hands on them in multi-cat leagues.
That caps off this week’s article, thanks for reading. As always, you can find me on twitter @alexdmaclean.
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All info taken from FrozenTools.
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