Capped: Early Off-Season Shopping List

by Chris Pudsey on April 7, 2016

This week's Capped includes some players that should be acquired before their value rises. 

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Here we are, the final week of the NHL regular season, and by this time next week, we will be in full-on playoff mode. Man, this season has really flown by, hasn’t it?

In last week’s Capped, I took a look at some guys you should consider moving out before their salary got out of hand, and quite simply, that are hard to roster considering the return on the investment. Some may have called it a “sell-high” list, but to me it was just being smart with your cap management before others caught on to your game plan. 

In this week’s Capped, I am going to take a look at who I am recommending you consider buying for your salary cap, fantasy keeper franchise. Again, I don’t like to call it a “buy-low” list, even though some of the names below may suggest that is the case. To me, these are just a few guys I think are worth owning season next year, or just some I think may be a bit under the radar and could be a help to your franchise going forward.

In no particular order, here are a few guys you should seriously consider pursuing this off-season to help your franchise for the next season, and perhaps beyond.

Mike Smith – Arizona Coyotes

Cap Hit:  $5.67 million

Contract: Three years remaining on current deal

GS

Wins

Loss

OTL

GAA

SV%

Shutouts

30

15

12

1

2.68

0.915

3

The 34-year-old Smith is smack in the middle of his long-term contract that he signed back in 2013. 

After missing close to three months due to abdominal surgery, Smith returned, and is playing about as good as we have seen him play in quite some time. His record since returning from the injury on March 12th is five wins, and three losses. In those eight starts, he’s faced nothing but playoff bound teams with the only exception being the Edmonton Oilers. Not too shabby!

Over the past month, since his return, he is sporting the best save percentage in the league (0.946%), the third best goals-against-average (1.76) and has two shutouts on his record.  He’s averaging about 32.5 shots per game and is sixth in the league when we look at the shots he has faced from 1-15 feet away. That last little tidbit means he’s facing a lot of rubber, and a lot of it has been shots from in close, and he’s still finding a way to make those saves.

Basically speaking, Smith is playing some damn fine hockey right now. 

He is definitely a goalie that should be on many GMs radar that are in need of help between the pipes. He tends to be under-valued because he plays for the lowly Coyotes, but these Coyotes are a team on the rise. Last season was a disaster for Smith ,and the injury this year didn’t help his value much either, but this is why you should be looking to acquire him now. If he can carry this momentum into next season, his salary is reasonable considering the numbers he’s putting up.

Patrick Maroon – Edmonton Oilers

Cap Hit: $2.0 million

Contract: Two years remaining on current deal

Team

GP

G

A

+/-

PPP

Hits

Blks

PIMs

ANA

56

4

9

-13

4

114

2

54

EDM

14

5

6

6

3

33

8

34

The 27-year-old Maroon came to the Oilers on trade deadline day for Martin Gernat and a fourth round pick in 2016. I will be the first to admit, I was a tad skeptical when the Oilers made this trade, but after taking more time to assess the deal, I have quickly changed my tune. I had visions of Dustin Penner all over again, and I didn’t like that thought. 

Oilers General Manager Peter Chiarelli has set out to make his team a bigger, tougher team to play against, and the six-foot-three, 230-pound Maroon certainly helps in that regard. It helps that he is also a skilled winger has found his way to Connor McDavid’s wing. 

Recently, head coach Todd McLellan had this to say about Maroon:

“He’s got good hands and he’s smart,” said McLellan. “There’s some really fast guys who go all over the ice and really don’t get anything done. He reminds me of a Dave Andreychuk type, who knows where to go and how to get there and is effective when he does arrive.”

It sounds as if McLellan likes what he sees so far from Maroon. He is quite familiar with Maroon too, after coaching against him in San Jose for years. 

Since coming to the Oilers from the Ducks, his ice-time average is up over four minutes per game, and he is producing offensively at a much higher rate as well. The fact that he’s a bargain, salary-wise, for two more seasons is only more firepower as to why you should be trying to acquire this guy. If he can stick with McDavid, he could be a valuable asset for fantasy teams.

Calle Jarnkrok – Nashville Predators

Cap Hit: TBD

Contract: Expired, arbitration eligible

GP

G

A

+/-

PPP

Hits

Blks

PIMs

79

15

14

2

3

35

24

12

 

I normally wouldn’t recommend players who aren’t under contract because of the uncertainty that may come with their new deal, but I think Jarnkrok is worthy of an exception here. The 24-year-old is just finishing up his second full season in the NHL and is starting to fit in quite nicely.

Since coming to the Predators from the Detroit Red Wings two years ago in the David Legwand trade, he has shown steady improvement and although his is a natural center, he is now finding some chemistry on the wing side of the top line with Ryan Johansen and James Neal.

He’s quietly snuck up on a 30-point season even though he’s been up and down the lineup for the Preds. Now that he seems to have found a home in the top six, one can only assume a decent increase in his points total starting next season. In the last month, he’s averaged 0.5 points-per-game; over an 82 game schedule, that’s good enough for 41 points. 

Assuming Jarnkrok re-signs for an affordable rate, which I expect will happen, he could well be worth the investment he will cost you. 

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Thanks for reading.

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