Capped: Explaining player rankings for cap leagues

by Alexander MacLean on September 26, 2019
  • Capped
  • Capped: Explaining player rankings for cap leagues


Happy Thursday everyone, and what a fine day it is. The cap rankings were posted yesterday, and from here on out they should be smooth sailing through the season – likely updated every two months. You can find them here.

I summed up my initial thoughts on the project in an article from back in July, and that can be found here. This week, I would like to recap some of my thoughts about rankings, and then open the floor up for some input (positive or negative).  



Notes on the Rankings

As noted in the rankings list, the value is based on a particular league setup, so players who do not fit that, may fall a little farther than expected.

With being able to find 60-point players at a reasonable acquisition cost on $6 million deals, players being paid double need to be able to hit spectacular levels of production. Two of the biggest stars in the league, Auston Matthews (#181) and Connor McDavid (#32), show a large variation in their rating, based mostly on the fact that McDavid is projected for 35 more points than Matthews. Both are among the highest paid players in the game, and some of the best scorers, however the rankings take into account that 80 points is much more replaceable with $11 million on your roster, than 115 points with $12 million to play with. In a similar fashion, an older Alex Ovechkin falls down the rankings for a points-only setup but is still a top player to own in leagues counting shots and hits.

Looking at the rankings positionally, five of the top-10 players are defencemen. Three of them because they have the skill to hit 50 points still on entry-level deals, while second and fifth are Erik Gustafsson and Morgan Reilly respectively, as the best owns on standard contracts. Gustavsson only costs $1.2 million against the cap, while Morgan Reilly’s three years on a bargain contract up his value.

Barrett Hayton is the highest ranked player that isn’t expected to produce much this coming year (predicted barely over double digits in points). Perhaps he gets a nine-game trial at the beginning of the year (as he looks primed to start the season with the team), but it’s not likely that he plays a full season. That being said, his upside is high, he is close to making an impact, and his entry level contract is one that many owners will wish to have on their team in another year or two.

Mikko Rantanen makes an appearance at #61, even though he currently doesn’t have a contract. My latest model predictions are used in those places (Patrick Laine, Kyle Connor, etc), so that the list isn’t lacking any players that should be near the top but just don’t have a contract. The current projections have Rantanen with an AAV close to $9 million. I expect that to be a touch higher when pen finally meets paper though.



Future Work

There is a great deal yet to do for it, as there is always work that can be done to more accurately fit the value curve. More specifically though, I am also planning to make a few updates:

-Evaluating a more accurate contract prediction system. The nature of the task of predicting salaries is extremely difficult to get right, especially when trying to create a system with as little manual input as possible.

-More properly valuing rookies and their upside at a cheap cost vs veterans whose production is more assured.

-Determining within what range we can call one player’s value equivalent to another. For now we’ll stick to the +/- 5.0 rating that Dobber uses on all of his rating schemes.




All suggestions are welcome, as this is being done for the readers! Let me know what you think in terms of how much weighting you would give to future years, how you would value defence versus forwards, and what kind of cap rules your league has (Number of players, Cap-hit vs AAV, etc)?

I especially would like to hear thoughts on who is too low, or too high, and why. The why is important, as it explains what might be tweaked in the rankings system to better approximate player value.

Have your say in the comments below, or over here on the forums.



Other quick hits:

Brayden Point is still a bargain. Wow. Matthew Tkachuk is also still good value – especially in multicategory leagues.

Thomas Chabot’s predicted AAV was $7.7 million, so his long-term $8 million AAV is a win for the Senators. They hit market value almost on the nose, and got a young star locked up long-term as the core of their rebuild.

-The Anthony DeAngelo contract has the potential to be the most underrated steal of the offseason He was projected at a salary between $4 – $5 million, and he only signed for $925,000. He’s officially someone to look into aggressively buying. Even better if your league counts PIMs, as he amassed 77 last season in 61 games. 

-We’re closing in on the NHL season, and that means the RFAs only have a small window in which to sign contracts. Personally, I think the only one at risk of missing time is Patrik Laine. Maybe knock them down your draft board a little from where they started. On a related note, the RFAs missing camp may also start the season slow. For example, if Mikko Rantanen only has six points through his team’s 12 games in October, you may want to see if you can buy him at a bit of a reduced price.



All salary info courtesy of capfriendly, all statistics are pulled from FrozenTools.

You can find me on Twitter @alexdmaclean.



You can find the summer buy and sell features here.