You won’t find Carey Price in our Vezina consideration, you won’t find Connor McDavid in any of these ballots either. That’s because we’re awarding the standard NHL hardware to those most underpaid for what they bring to the table. These players are your cap league stars.
*I will preface this article by saying that save for the Calder trophy, players on entry level contracts are excluded, as it takes away from the fun. We don’t want Elias Pettersson winning everything this early in his career, now would we?
The Hart Memorial Trophy:
Nikita Kucherov (RW) – Tampa Bay Lightning
Cap Hit – $4,766,667
An honourable mention last season, and the cap-league MVP this year. Being paid less than $5 million, Kucherov is leading the league in points, doing so at a pace unmatched in the salary cap era. Take away 10% of his production, and he is still tied for the league lead. He is also doing this from a RW position that is fairly shallow outside the top tier.
This is the last year he will really be eligible here however, as Kuch has a new eight-year contract with an AAV of $9.5 million kicking in next season. He will still be more than worth the cost in a cap league, but keeping him may now come at the cost of one other pricier contract on your team. For the Tampa Bay Lightning’s sake, let’s hope that isn’t Brayden Point.
Elias Lindholm – Riding shotgun with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan in Calgary, Lindholm has enjoyed a career year, providing some well-rounded production all-season. That being said, his luck metrics are all a little high, so beware a bit of regression next year.
Sean Couturier – Somehow still underrated in Philadelphia, the stud centreman is entering his prime on a deal that is making Sidney Crosby’s contract look like an overpayment.
Josh Anderson – A very solid own in multi-category leagues. His cost for production of a heavy volume of shots and hits along with a scoring touch is impossible to replace on a non-entry-level-contract.
The Norris Trophy:
Erik Gustafsson (D) – Chicago Blackhawks
Cap Hit – $1,200,000 UFA as of July 1st, 2020
Gustafsson seemingly came out of nowhere to record a 50-point season for a Chicago Blackhawks team that would have been even closer to the bottom of the standings without him. His pricetag versus production puts him alone at the top. His minus-12 rating puts a slight blemish on the record, but the other peripherals definitely don’t hurt.
Roman Josi – One of the best fantasy bargains for years, and he is still going. One more year left on his contract, and could be in the discussion for an actual Norris trophy, let alone a cap league one.
Ryan Pulock – Showing signs of the breakout that fantasy managers have been expecting for seemingly forever. Solid point totals, and even better peripherals, have Pulock in the conversation as one of the best fantasy value owns.
Darnell Nurse – Taking over on the top PP for Oscar Klefbom really was a boon for his scoring and showed what he can produce as the go-to guy on offence. His penalty minute, hit, and block production are all hugely appreciated by fantasy owners as well.
The Vezina Trophy:
Robin Lehner (G) – New York Islanders
Cap Hit – $1,500,000 – UFA as of July 1st, 2019
Not a whole lot was expected of Robin Lehner when he was brought into Long Island on a small, one-year contract last summer. He has exceeded even the loftiest of expectations, and certainly earned himself a new contract as a starting goalie, be it with the Islanders, or elsewhere. Owners struck gold on this late round gem who, despite splitting time with Tomas Greiss, has 22 wins and counting, to go along with a sterling 2.17 GAA and a .928 save percentage.
Andrei Vasilevskiy – He leads the league in wins despite having missed some time with injury. Add to that some of the top ratios in the league, capping it off with a spectacular 52-save performance last week, and one could certainly argue he deserves the win here. However, with Lehner earning less than half of what Vas is making, and with much less goal support to boot, we tossed him the bone.
Jordan Binnington – Fewer games than the others on the list, but a massive impact turning around a Blues team that could have fallen massively short of expectations without him.
The Calder Memorial Trophy:
Elias Pettersson (C) – Vancouver Canucks
Cap Hit – $925,000 RFA as of July 1st, 2021
Having won the hearts of Canucks fans just a few games in, he has continued to impress the rest of the season as the year has gone on. He looks primed to be a star producer in the league and will form a solid trio with Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat in the years to come. Cap league owners, enjoy the cheap production for now, because after the summer of 2021, Pettersson will be the highest paid player on Vancouver.
Rasmus Dahlin – It is tough to break into the league as a defenceman, let alone making the kind of impact Dahlin has. Just the third 18-year-old defenceman to hit 40 points, he also owns some of the best possession numbers on the Sabres.
Andreas Johnsson – The first-year Leaf is flying as under the radar as is possible in Toronto, after getting off to a slow start. He is now up over 40 points, while being bumped around in the top-nine for most of the season. Surprisingly he is actually producing more since William Nylander’s return to the lineup, and has earned himself more ice time. That’s a testament to his play all around the ice.
Jordan Binnington – Already been covered, but it makes it even more impressive that he is doing what he is as a rookie.
The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
Teuvo Teravainen (LW) – Carolina Hurricanes
Cap Hit – $2,860,000
This is a glorified trophy for those that are great owns in points only leagues, but as soon as you start adding other categories like hits, blocks, or PIMs, they lose a large chunk of their value. Teravainen repeats as the winner here, hitting 70 points for the first time in his career, while only recording 12 penalty minutes, 28 hits, and 23 blocks. His scoring has made him rosterable in any kind of league, however the owners in multi-cat leagues have had to be aware of Teravainen’s shortcomings.
His new contract kicks in this summer, with a cap hit of $5.4 million. That will be a little tougher to swallow for those same multi-cat owners, however in leagues that are closer to only counting the scoring stats, TT’s contract will continue to be a worthwhile one.
Sean Couturier – Missing out on the Hart trophy as well tells you all you need to know about how productive he has been. He actually has some above-average block totals that hurt his case for this award. His 22 PIMs and 39 hits fit right in here however.
Aleksander Barkov – Eight penalty minutes. That’s it. More than 10 times as many points as penalty minutes. Only 27 hits, and a minus 11 rating as well. His faceoffs add a lot of value in leagues that count them, however it’s almost solely the points that make Barkov such a fantastic own at his price tag of $5.9 million.
Feel free to comment your agreement with the award picks below (or more likely your disagreement).
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