Capped: Cheap defencemen to target in cap leagues

Alexander MacLean

2020-05-21

In the second half of answering Alx Lussier's question from last week, we look into some defencemen that may be able to help you out in fantasy next year.

 

Personally, I think breakout defencemen are the most important part of success in a dynasty and/or cap league team. There are always plenty of forward options, and a lot of turnover every year. In net, goalie values fluctuate to the point of it being next to impossible to predict even the top tiers, let alone breakout options. In general, forwards and goaltenders have reached a plateau in terms of value in fantasy leagues as well, where most GMs know exactly how much to value these players. Defencemen evaluations always seem to vary from one GM to the next, and this is where we can take advantage of the biggest market inefficiencies.

In the 2019-2020 season, only 10 defencemen with a cap hit under $1M hit the 30-point plateau (with only three more on pace to hit the mark if all 82 games were to be played). With an average of 7.5 hitting the mark in the four seasons prior, it is not a common feat, and a benchmark we can use to mark the players that will really have an impact on fantasy teams. To add another layer, only one of last year's sub $1 million, 30-point producing defenceman was not on an entry level contract, so finding non-rookie players who can hit our benchmarks is very rare. Anthony DeAngelo signed a one-year bridge contract to show what he was capable of and then rocketed past all expectations – he is the exception and not the rule.

Moving into next year, we all expect Cale Makar, Quinn Hughes, Rasmus Dahlin, and other super-rookies to be able to hit the 30-point benchmark without breaking sweat, they managed it last year, and it likely won't change next season. As a result, we won't go into any defenceman that hit the 30-point mark in a previous season in order to find some players that we can buy-in on in the offseason before they become one of those precious productive and cheap defencemen.

I also excluded players such as Philipe Myers and Ethan Bear whom I think will hit the 30-point mark for the first time, but they are due new contracts in the offseason that will likely be worth above $1 million annually.

Here are my top 10 outlined in three groups.

 

Talent, opportunity, and track record are all working in their favour:

 

John Marino (D) – Pittsburgh Penguins

Cap Hit: $925,000 – RFA in July 2021

It may be cheating to include John Marino as he came so close last year with 26 points through 56 games last season. However, him not managing to hit the mark this past season may mean you can still acquire him for pennies on the dollar. As a bonus, if Kris Letang is out for any length of time, Marino should be next in line for top power-play duties.