Capped: Cheap forwards to target

Alexander MacLean

2020-05-28

Building off last week's coverage of productive and cheap defencemen to look into for next season, this week we're going to look at the forwards. Forwards need a higher level of production than defencemen do to be relevant, and there are always more options for you, so we're going to look at a 50-point benchmark. In the shortened regular season of 2019-2020, there were only three forwards to top 50 points while under contract for $1 million or less. Yes, there were fewer games played, but there were still only nine who were pacing for 50 points in a full season. In the three seasons before that, there were 18, 22, and 19 respectively. If there are fewer forwards hitting higher offensive numbers, then being able to peg the breakout candidates who can hit those numbers will be hugely beneficial.

Moving into next year, we expect players like Elias Pettersson and Andrei Svechnikov to be able to hit 50 points 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 forwards that hit even the 40-point mark last year 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 forwards.

I also excluded any players whom I think will hit the 50-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 (not necessarily in a specific order):

 

The big guns with talent, opportunity, and track record all working in their favour:

 

Conor Garland (RW) – Arizona Coyotes

Cap Hit: $775,000 – RFA in July 2021

It feels like cheating to include Conor Garland as he barely missed my cut offs with 39 points in 68 games last season. His relative anonymity in Arizona may help keep his stock down as well. Check in with his owner to see if you can buy a 50-60-point player for the price of a 40-point player.

 

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Alexis Lafrenière (LW) – 2020 Draft Eligible

As we saw last season with Jack Hughes and Kappo Kakko, getting drafted early and coming in with offensive hype doesn't guarantee that you will put up offensive numbers. However, Lafrenière is at least a full tier ahead of those two, and 50 points shouldn't be an issue for the first-year forward regardless of which team wins the right to select him first overall.

 

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Kirill Kaprizov (RW) – Minnesota Wild

Unsigned – two years of entry-level eligibility left.

Like Lafreniere, Kaprizov is expected to jump right into the NHL lineup, be given the opportunity to shine, and follow through on his potential. With two years left of entry-level eligibility remaining, and some KHL success under his belt already, the expectations are high. Anything less than 50 points out of the gate would be a disappointment. He just needs to land in the NHL instead of returning to the KHL.

 

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Sophomores looking to build on mixed results from last season:

Jack Hughes (C)