Capped: Salary Predictions for the Top 200 Free Agent Skaters

Alexander MacLean

2020-07-16

This week’s Capped updates the salary projections for all of the relevant 2020 UFA and RFAs.

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After last week's article where I covered some thoughts on how to manage your cap team this offseason with the stagnant salary cap, this week we're going to stick with that same concept and look over salary projections for the top 200 skaters that can hit the free-agent market in the fall.

To quickly recap, I have been working on projecting salaries with an algorithm since 2017 and my 1.0 version turned out decently well. However, it required too much manual input to be feasible in the long-term and as a result I started almost from scratch last summer, when I began to work on the salary cap keeper league rankings. I have been tweaking those numbers ever since and at this point I have worked out the major kinks. If a player does not appear below then it means that they are either a) not a free agent this fall, b) only projected for a league minimum salary and didn't make the relevance cut for the top 200, or c) they fell through the cracks and aren't in my database. If you notice someone missing drop a comment so I can verify that in future there aren't any relevant option "c" players.

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Some thoughts on the projections:

Most importantly, these projections aren't perfect – keep that in mind. These projections try to take all of the player biases out of the equation, and it's all based off of numbers. As a result, if you don't agree with something, then it could mean you have some existing biases that are showing through. On the flip side, this also means that a lot of the NHL GM biases can't be taken into account, and what we end up with is more-so a projection of a player's value instead of exactly what they will sign for. This means that it can be a useful tool to ballpark a player's value before they sign and to give an approximation on their potential cost. It can then also be used after a contract is signed to compare their value to the contract versus the expectation, easily signaling whether the initial reaction to the contract should be positive of negative.

The list that I put out in February had a few major bugs that I have tried to fix. The biggest was managing injured players such as Taylor Hall, and balancing their lack of production in the current season against their upside and expected production when healthy. I am now content that most of the bugs have been worked out of the system, but as with any writer and publisher of numbers, I love to hear criticism and comments as they point out the areas for improvement. You can find me on Twitter @alexdmaclean for any of these comments.

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Some quick thoughts on the list:

-The top names are unsurprising. Due to the lack in elite talent and the flat cap, we may not see an eight digit AAV contract signed this summer.

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