Capped: Appreciating the Little Contracts

by Alexander MacLean on January 17, 2019
  • Capped
  • Capped: Appreciating the Little Contracts


We’re one short week away from the NHL All-Star break, where some good players get chosen to play in a meaningless game, while other better ones are left at home.

Can you tell I don’t care for the all-star game?

Anyways, the theme featured in this week’s article is not going to be found anywhere close to the all-star game. However, it is a key to competing in salary cap leagues. Everyone can assemble a team of star players, but it takes much more awareness of the game and the players to fill out the best depth in the league. Especially in a cap league where owning cheap depth players is a necessary part of filling out your roster.



When filling out a roster, at the top are usually the star players. They provide the scoring, which is tougher to find. When filling out the rest of the roster, this is where you target specific combinations of stats that players can provide. Grabbing a player or two who are known for racking up a large quantity of hits can end up winning you that category more weeks than you lose, or in roto, it can launch you to a large enough lead that you can focus on catching up in other categories later.

Depth defencemen aren’t going to score 80 points for you. Instead of grabbing the 30-point blueliner who doesn’t do anything else, aim for the guy who has a similar contract, may only score 20-25 points for you, but can contribute in a wide range of categories, including shot volume, plus-minus, hits, blocks, and others. Fill out your roster by avoiding the category killers, and these depth players will make a much bigger difference than you may expect.

However, if the rest of your team doesn’t hit, and you’re going to focus on winning a majority of the other categories in a H2H league every week, then don’t go out of your way to roster one guy who hits a lot and takes away from what could have been a slot used for a large contributor in another stat more useful to you. Diversity is good to fill out roster depth, but don’t do it blindly.


Targeting Next Year’s Value

Owning a player like William Karlsson, Yanni Gourde, Tomas Chabot, or Neal Pionk is a real boon to any fantasy team, let alone a salary cap one. Trying to find these kinds of players is a little like playing the lottery. You know there are going to be winning tickets, but the odds you find the best one is very small. Yet, everyone still tries their hardest for it, because of how great it would be if you did win.

So how do you increase your odds? Well, first you have to buy tickets. Having players that bring a very small contract to the table gives them the possibility to outplay that contract. The longer the contract, the more it can pay off. This is why the entry-level deals are so valuable, because we know that these top young players can come in and produce right away, meanwhile their earning potential is capped for a full three years.

Next, you find the players who have the best opportunity to grow. Every once in a while, someone pushes their way up like Brandon Pirri is doing now, but more often, then unexpected breakouts are from those who have opportunity and responsibility thrust upon them, and they find they wear it well. You won’t be able to find these players now, the best time to sort out who your best targets are is later into the summer, and we’ll look into it then for you. The best places to find those thoughts are in the Forum, the Guide, and to look at ice-time, reading into where players are expected to see bumps in opportunity.


Speaking of the Guide, the MidSeason Guide is now available. Don’t wait to get yours, and save your fantasy season before it’s too late!


Recent Signings

As an example, the Maple Leafs recently re-signed Trevor Moore to a very cheap two-year contract, and it’s a one-way deal. The one-way deal means he’s viewed as someone who could/should be up with the NHL club for a majority of the next two seasons. As a result, if your league is very deep, he could fill a spot next year as a depth winger. Moore showed well with a short NHL stint this season, and appears to have the backing of Mike Babcock. These are the things you look for.

The Pittsburgh Penguins recently re-upped Casey DeSmith on a three-year deal with an AAV of $1.25 million. He is the backup, and this contract shows it. However, with Matt Murray being both injury prone and with a history of inconsistent stretches, DeSmith comes with much more upside than your average backup.

Not a small contract, but one that may push a few ripples down the lineup, Jake Guentzel was also re-upped by the Penguins, at an AAV of $6 million. This solidifies his spot in the lineup, and means there will be less room for players like Dominik Simon or Jean-Sebastien Dea to find meaningful minutes. With the right deployment (taking over Patrick Hornqvist’s powerplay time) Guentzel can live up to, and outplay this extension. Next year will be his big fourth season, so now was a good time to get a deal done.

The San Jose Sharks also recently inked extensions with two players. Lukas Radil got one year, and Marcus Sorensen got two. Both can be solid contributors, Radil is scoring at a pace of almost a point every two games, while Sorensen is a reliable player on the third line. Both are flying under the radar as depth options in cap leagues, and with a few UFAs in San Jose this summer, there’s a little more opportunity for growth. For a combined $2.2 million, they’re a great bargain for a team with quite a few large contracts also on the books.



Previous Capped articles:

Valuing Draft Picks in All Rounds

Holiday Shopping for the East



That caps off this week’s record article, thanks for reading. As always, you can find me on twitter @alexdmaclean.