Capped: Anatomy of a Trade

by Chris Pudsey on March 10, 2016
  • Capped
  • Capped: Anatomy of a Trade

Chris Pudsey breaks down why he traded Ryan Johansen and Kevin Klein for Aaron Ekblad and Kyle Turris.

In this weeks Capped, I take a look at my big trade deadline deal that went down in my main fantasy keeper league, the UHL. Our trade deadline was on Friday, March 4th. For those that aren’t aware, I reference the UHL on a fairly regular basis when writing this weekly column. It’s an extremely competitive league, full of some of the sharper minds on the Dobber site like fellow staff members Steve Laidlaw, Eric Daoust, and Peter Harling. Some of the other names you may recognize from the forums include Dyzfunctioned, Carcillo and Praba to name a few. 

 

As far as the league’s salary situation itself goes, let me give you a little background; it’s a salary cap league that uses AAV (annual average value) for our cap hit. In other words, we include things like salary and performance bonuses into our cap hit so rookie salaries can climb as high as $3.775 million. We have a cap ceiling that is identical to the NHL in any given year, as well as a cap floor that mirrors the NHL, but that is rarely ever an issue.

 

The league is made up of 24 teams. There is no fee to play in the UHL; simply bragging rights and lots of smack talk among friends. Our format is run through Fantrax and it’s a H2H league with daily starts for all players. We roster 3C, 3LW, 3RW, 3F, 6D, 1G, 4BN, 4IR for a total of 23 roster players (you must roster 23 at all times but this can include IR players if you do not have any minors eligible players to be recalled) and we also roster a maximum of 27 minor league assets as well. For players to be kept in the minors, skaters must have less than 160 NHL games on their record and goalies can be stashed for a maximum of 80 games.

 

For skater categories, we use G, A, PPP, SHP, GWG, PIM, Plus/Minus, SOG, Hits, Blks, FOW.  For the goalies, W, SV, SV%, GAA, SO. I think that covers most of the background details needed to help explain why this trade happened the way they did at least from my end.

 

One of the important things to understand about the UHL when it comes to contracts; there is no dropping players on your NHL roster because you don’t want them anymore, or can’t afford them anymore. Much like the actual NHL rules, you can buyout a player still under contract and it works much like the NHL (under 26-years-old, you are on the hook for 1/3 of his cap hit. Over 26 and you are on the hook for 2/3 of remaining cap hit.) The only time you are allowed to drop players from your NHL roster (who are not minors eligible) without penalty is once they become a free agent or retire. Once a player becomes a free agent, you have the option to release them to free agency before the NHL season begins. If you choose to hang on to them after they sign their new deal, and the season starts, you are stuck with them. My point is this; you have to pay attention to the contracts you have, as well as when they come up for renewals; cap management is crucuial in the UHL for long term success.

 

That’s the thing about this league, you always have to be looking ahead just as much as you invest in today. If you aren’t looking ahead, you could find yourself in a position where you are forced to trade away significant assets for pennies on the dollar so you can be cap compliant or even worse, simply dropping the recently re-signed asset because you can’t afford them. Believe me when I say, there are plenty of quality players currently sitting as free agents because their contracts are too steep and GM’s can’t afford to roster them. Our league has legit fantasy assets like Matt Niskanen, Johnny Boychuk, Patrick Elias, Matt Moulson, and Mike Green sitting as free agents because their previously owned GMs didn’t think they were worth their new contract or they simply couldn’t fit them in under the cap. Granted, anyone can sign them any time they want as free agents, but most GMs either don’t see their value for the money or simply can’t afford them themselves.

 

With all that out of the way, on to the trade between myself and Eric Daoust:

 

I sent out Ryan Johansen and Kevin Klein and received Kyle Turris and Aaron Ekblad in return. 

 

Before I get into explaining my side of the deal, let’s take a look at the numbers from this year and last year for all involved in the deal as well as their rank in Fantasy Hockey Geek.

 

Ryan Johansen – UHL rank: 60

 

Season

GP

G

A

+/-

PIM

SOG

GWG

PPP

SHP

Hit

Blk

FOW

14/15

82

26

45

-6

40

202

0

26

2

84

33

851

15/16

65

11

34

1

41

156

1

18

0

90

22

539

 

Kevin Klein – UHL rank: 260

 

Season

GP

G

A

+/-

PIM

SOG

GWG

PPP

SHP

Hit

Blk

FOW

14/15

65

9

17

24

25

76

4

0

0

126

115

0

15/16

54

6

8

12

17

45

3

1

0

82

120

0

 

 

Kyle Turris – UHL rank:  168

 

Season

GP

G

A

+/-

PIM

SOG

GWG

PPP

SHP

Hit

Blk

FOW

14/15

82

24

40

5

36

215

6

16

1

48

40

737

15/16

57

13

17

-15

32

122

2

8

1

44

31

536

 

Aaron Ekblad – UHL rank:  181

 

Season

GP

G

A

+/-

PIM

SOG

GWG

PPP

SHP

Hit

Blk

FOW

14/15

81

12

27

12

32

170

4

13

0

109

80

0

15/16

62

13

13

14

31

145

2

8

0

71

42

0

 

 

My team is still a bit of a rebuild project but I did manage to squeak into the playoffs on a final week victory. Eric has one of the stronger teams in the league and is looking to bolster his team to go on a possible deep playoff run. While I can’t speak for Eric, I can explain my side of the trade. 

 

When I put Johansen on my trade block a couple days prior to the deadline, my caveat on trading him was making sure that I received a quality, young center in return so I didn’t step too far backwards primarily in regards to FOW. Like most leagues who use FOW as a stat category, it’s a valuable one. 

 

Moving Johansen wasn’t an easy thing to do as I had owned him on my roster well before he ever broke out as the player we know today. He’s also one of my personal favorite players in the league today. My train of thought in moving him was mainly based on looking two years down the road in regards to salary concerns. He is currently on his bridge contract with one year remaining after this season. Now I am simply making assumptions but I am confident in saying he is going to receive a significant raise from his current contract that sees him making an AAV of $4 million. How much and for how long is still to be seen but I believe it will be a doozy! I was not sure I would be able to afford him after his new deal so I had to make a tough choice.

 

I won’t lie, another reason behind my offering him on my trade block was based on getting a tad weary of Johansen and where he is headed long term as far as his production goes. Maybe it’s just John Tortorella and his comments about the 23-year-old Johansen getting into my head, but I was starting to feel a little uneasy about his long-term future.  I wanted to move him now while he still had one more year left on his contract. If I were to wait until next year to try and move him, most would probably assume it was due to contract concerns and I feel that would have lessened his value in my competitors’ eyes, lowering the return coming my way. If I was going to move him, now was the time. I did have a couple bites but I believe the caveat around the FOW coming back limited my options but I was ok with that. I knew there would be enough interest in Johansen and I was confident I would get a good enough offer that would please me. If it didn’t come, I was prepared to hold him and see if there was more offers in the summer when some teams had more cap space due to dropping other free agents. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Johansen is going to fall off the face of the earth as far as production goes, but I am starting to have that little doubt in the back of my head that he will be what I think he has the ability to become.

 

As far as how the deal went down, Eric initially approached me offering a couple high end defensemen and the one that I liked most was Ekblad. He carries an AAV of $3.775 million and like Johansen, has one year remaining on his deal. It’s hard not to like what the 20-year-old Ekblad has done early on in his career. While I understand his contract expires at the end of next season like Johansen’s, there’s still a chance he signs a bridge deal for a reasonable amount of money, or he will get locked up long term and get a big raise. At his age and development, I believe he’s worth the investment.

 

The other part of the trade as I mentioned earlier was the center coming my way. I was most intereseted in Kyle Turris from Eric simply because his salary is only $3.5 million but the key part was that he still has two more years left on his contract after this season.  That was huge to me and my cap situation. I realize that Turris is a step back from Johansen, but all in all, I don’t think he’s nearly as far behind Johansen as many would think when the overall numbers are evaluated and considering he’s still only 26 years of age, he is just coming into his prime years.

 

The final piece in the deal was 31-year-old Kevin Klein headed to Daoust. Klein is an interesting piece and probably underrated in most fantasy circles, but in multi-category leagues, he does have solid value considering his AAV is a reasonable $2.9 million for two more seasons after this one. Including Klein in the deal was just as much about value as it was about trying to smooth out the cap hit for both teams. I am sure Klein wasn’t a piece he was looking to acquire, but in the end, he offered something that allowed us both to get what we truly wanted.

 

As far as league reaction to the trade, it appeared to be mixed. Obviously today, Ryan Johansen in the best player in the deal and if you go by that modus operadi then one could say I lost this trade. I like to look at the deal as a whole. I like both players I received and think both are solid value in a salary cap league today and hopefully, long-term. Many tend to feel that defensemen don’t hold as much value as forwards but I am not afraid to invest in defensemen if the return is worth it. I own Kris Letang in the UHL and his cap hit is juicy ($7.25 million) but he’s also 31st best player in the UHL by FHG rankings. The value is there for defensemen as long as the upside goes along with the cap hit. I am a big fan of Ekblad and his upside so I truly feel he’s going to be a key part of my team for years to come.

 

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So that was the big trade I managed to pull off on my deadline day. How about you?  What were your big trades? What’s your thoughts on my big trade? Leave a comment and follow me on Twitter @chrispudsey