Capped: Players to target – or not – based on their fluctuating value
In the last few weeks I have put out some big topic articles that I'm going to link to again in case you missed them. First there was some deep dive research into salaries and rankings based on historical data relative to draft position – here. Then we shifted gears and went through some implications from the announcement of a stagnant cap – here. Just last week there was the big update to the Free Agency Contract Predictions after a big overhaul – here. Coming up, I am releasing an update for the top 200 Salary Cap Keeper Rankings on Saturday. In the meantime, I'm going to go over a few players that stick out in the rankings – for both positive and negative reasons – and discuss some value fluctuations in cap leagues.
Erik Karlsson (D) – San Jose Sharks
Cap Hit: $11,500,000 – UFA in 2027
If I asked you how old Erik Karlsson was, what would be your first guess. Off the top of my head I might have said 32 (or somewhere in his early thirties). He actually only just turned 30 two months ago, and as a result he's right in that buy-low sweet spot of coming off a down year, with an injury, right when he turns 30. In 2018 in one league of mine, I traded Karlsson away for an underwhelming return – at that point I didn't think I would ever own him in a dynasty or keeper league again. However, I have acquired him in two leagues this offseason (one a dynasty cap league and one a non-cap partial keeper league) because the value is just too good to pass up. At his floor that we saw this past season, Karlsson put up 40 points in 56 games (a 60-point pace). At his ceiling, he's a 90-point defenceman who can put up huge block numbers as well. The mega-contract kicking in is just another reason that fantasy managers are discounting his value. Rightfully so, as the contract is an overpayment (at least on the fantasy end) which means it's tough to stomach if you're tight to the cap. That being said, as a defenceman who likely still has a few 70+ point seasons in him, it's tough for him to be overpaid. Check in with his owner in your league, as his value won't be any lower, and there's almost nowhere to go from here but up.
Joel Farabee (LW) – Philadelphia Flyers
Cap Hit: $925,000– RFA in 2022
If you're looking for a player to surprise offensively next year, Farabee is as good a bet as any, and he doesn't seem to be getting the same kind of hype that others like Oliver Bjorkstrand or Nick Robertson are receiving. Farabee put up a respectable 21 points in his 51 games this season. That on its own isn't super impressive, but the fact that he did almost all of his damage at even strength, with less than 13 minutes of even-strength ice time per game, it starts to look even better. With his offensive skills, Farabee isn't going to be stashed on a depth line either. He should see plenty of time with the top-six group, and has been sitting pretty there during the training camp this summer as well. His owner may not want to part with him, but it's worth inquiring either way, as he looks to continue his rise up the cap rankings list. Also check out Morgan Frost who has been seeing some time with the PP1 group in the Flyers' summer camp.
David Perron (LW) – St. Louis Blues
Cap Hit: 4,000,000 – UFA in 2022
Perron has been one of the most underappreciated players in cap leagues for a long time now. When he signed this new deal a lot of fantasy owners just assumed it would be another free-agency overpay, and that would mean his talent was going to fall off a cliff. Well at the ripe age of 32, Perron doesn't look to be slowing down. He had his second straight season pacing for over 65 points, and shooting over 15 percent, his average ice time was up over 18 minutes per game for the first time in six years. Deployment and production-wise, Perron is at his peak. However, you won't be able to get peak return for him in a trade due to the age factor. He still should be able to finish those last two years of his contract in a very productive manner, but expect him to start tapering off around then. He's a hold if you have him, soft-buy if you don't.
Nicklas Backstrom (C) – Washington Capitals
New Cap Hit: 9,200,000 – UFA in 2025
Now may be your last chance to sell Nicklas Backstrom for anything close to what you may perceive to be fair value. The 32-year-old centre has been a marvelous fantasy asset over the last decade and a half (his lowest 82-game point pace was a nice 69 points – twice). However, his secondary assists were way out of line this year, accounting for 59% of his total assist production in a season that was unusually assist heavy. That underlying metric coupled with some generally stable percentages across the board otherwise meant that the start of his decline looks to be hidden behind another season with his standard final point output.
Backstrom also slid in his final dozen games or so. His production dipped only slightly, but the loss of ice time both on the powerplay (completely off the powerplay in some games) and at even strength, is a worrisome trend. For a player that has averaged over 19 minutes of ice time in every season of his career but one, seeing him down to the 17-minute per game mark doesn't bode well for continued production into his mid-30. Add in the new contract paying him 140% of what he has been making the last few years, and it looks to be time to move on.
If you have any article topics for me to look into, give me a shout! You can find me on Twitter @alexdmaclean for questions, comments, or article requests.
And stay safe!
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