Capped: Getting Out Early

by Chris Pudsey on March 31, 2016
  • Capped
  • Capped: Getting Out Early

Five players to sell in your salary cap league before they become too expensive.

Just like the NHL regular season, it’s likely most of your fantasy seasons are winding down as well; championships are probably being determined this week. To those who are still in the race, my congrats to you on your successful season. To those of us who are on the outside looking in, there’s always next season. 

 

Whether you still have something going on or not, it’s never too late to start thinking about your fantasy team’s next move. Usually, most leagues have a trade deadline and it’s normally before the playoffs begin. It also normally re-opens once the season has completed and a winner has been chosen. That time is just around the corner so you really need to consider what moves you want to make early in the off-season, and especially before the draft happens if you are interested in acquiring draft picks.

 

In this weeks Capped, we will take a look at some guys you should seriously consider shining up and putting at the top of your trade block for all to see and hopefully, you can sell for a healthy return. If there is one thing I always focus on in my cap leagues, its look further ahead than simply looking at next season, with a huge focus on salaries. I have said it many times; cap management is ever so important if you are to be successful in cap leagues. This means being prepared for what’s coming down the road not only for this season but future seasons as well. The smart GM’s are the ones who look further down the road and make smart choices based on that.

 

I guess in some regards, we could call this a “sell-high” list heading into the off-season but I don’t believe much in sell-high, buy-low lists in keeper leagues so we will just call it an off-season clean up.

 

In no particular order, here are the guys I would be focusing on moving out for a healthy return if you currently own them.

 

Brad Marchand – Boston Bruins

Cap hit: $4.5 million AAV

One year remaining on current deal before UFA

 

GP

G

A

+/-

PPP

PIM

Hits

Blks

SOG

72

35

21

19

8

90

54

33

231

 

 

It’s hard not to be impressed with what Marchand has done this season for the Bruins, and for fantasy owners. He is having a career year in many regards; surpassing the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career (currently sitting with 35), a new career high in points in a season (56), PPP (eight), blocked shots (33) and is only five PIMs from tying his career high of 95. If we know Brad Marchand, with five games remaining, safe to say he’ll surpass that one too and sooner rather than later.

 

Setting career highs is always great for fantasy owners, especially when it comes from guys who are on a decent contract like Marchand is on. You start comparing his overall statistical numbers to others close to him and his contract is a good deal. The issue is he only has one year left on it and will be due a healthy raise; and he will get it too. In real life, he has become a leader on the Bruins and has assumed that role in stride. Leadership means nothing in fantasy leagues though.

 

It’s time to move the 27-year-old Marchand now while his value is at his highest. 

 

Zach Smith – Ottawa Senators

Cap Hit:  $1.888 million AAV

One year remaining on current deal before UFA

 

 

GP

G

A

+/-

PPP

PIM

Hits

Blks

SOG

75

21

11

11

5

74

162

24

114

 

 

Like Marchand, Zach Smith is having a career season. At this point in the year, he has set career highs in goals (21), points (32), PPP (5), and plus/minus (plus-11). His previous career high in goals was 14 back in 2011-12 and this is only the third time in his eight years in Ottawa that he has ever been a plus-player.

 

A lot of his success can be attributed to the injury to their top center, Kyle Turris. After Turris went down, Smith was promoted from the fourth line to the left wing side on a line with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mark Stone. For whatever reason, that line has clicked. Under normal circumstances, Stone would ride shotgun with Turris. Smith is also seeing a healthy dose of power-play time and that hasn’t hurt his production either.

 

While it’s great to see an increase in his production, it’s fair to say that this won’t be the norm for Smith. The 27-year-old will undoubtedly return to his checking role next season once Turris returns to his normal place in the lineup.

 

While Smith has value in multi-cat leagues for his peripherals like PIMs and hits, sell him now after this career year in goals scored. He also has one year left on his current deal so that should make it easier to trade him while his value is probably at the highest it’s ever been, and probably ever will be. 

 

Victor Hedman – Tampa Bay

Cap Hit: $4 million AAV

One year remaining on current deal before UFA

 

 

GP

G

A

+/-

PPP

PIM

Hits

Blks

SOG

75

8

36

23

11

46

59

130

170

 

There is no other way to say it; Hedman makes my list today because of his pending contract situation. He has one year left on his current deal and then he hits UFA, and considering he will only be 26-years-old when he comes due to re-sign, he will command big bucks, either from Tampa Bay or plenty of other suitors who will be willing to welcome him to their lineup. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, I don’t think he’s going to be worth what he’s about to get for a cap hit.

 

Listen, we all know he’s a solid, offensive defenseman but he has so much more to offer than what most fantasy owners always seem to get from him. He is injury prone and has to battle Anton Stralman for power-play time on most occasions. It’s scary to think what he could do offensively if he didn’t have to worry about Stralman stealing that prime PP1 time.

 

I am simply taking a guess, but I won’t be surprised to see him command something above $7 million per season. I just don’t think he’s worth that much towards your cap hit and before other GM’s figure out what you are up to, move him this off-season. Once other GMs start to focus on his salary next season, it will be too late and you will either have a hard time moving him, or not get anywhere near the return you could get now.

 

Ryan Johansen – Nashville Predators

Cap Hit: $4 million AAV

One year remaining on current deal before RFA with arbitration rights

 

Team

GP

G

A

+/-

PPP

PIM

Hits

Blks

SOG

CBJ

38

6

20

-4

11

25

58

12

88

NSH

37

7

20

8

10

30

49

16

88

 

If anyone had read my column from a couple weeks ago called Anatomy of A Trade, you will remember that I recently traded away Johansen at my trade deadline in my salary cap fantasy league. My reasoning for him making my list today is the same reasoning I used when I traded him away at my leagues trade deadline; a lack of trust and fear of his next contract. You can read in more detail by clicking on the link above but the long and short of my moving him came down to those two reasons.

 

Ever since I dealt him away, I haven’t quite followed him as much as I did when I owned him, but I am surprised after doing the research for this column that his numbers in Nashville aren’t that far off from what he was doing in Columbus; almost identical actually, which is kind of disappointing. He’s playing on a better team, and this is reflected in his plus/minus, but his offense hasn’t really improved like I had expected. I honestly thought that once he got out from under Tortorella’s micromanaging things would change for him but so far in Nashville, that hasn’t been the case. 

 

On a personal level, I am a big Johansen fan but from a fantasy standpoint, I am starting to have my doubts and becoming a tad skeptical. This next contract is going to be a big one for him, and considering the price Nashville paid to get him, they won’t be nearly as afraid to invest in him as the Blue Jackets appeared to be a couple seasons ago. He’s the number one center on that team and he’s about to get paid like one at the end of next season, assuming they wait that long to lock him up. 

 

If you are still a believer in Johansen you probably won’t be afraid to invest in him and that’s fine. If you are starting to doubt him even a little, I’d consider putting him on your block and seeing what type of offers you get from other GM’s. With one year left on his contract, most GM’s aren’t even thinking about his next deal yet. You should be.

 

Jimmy Vesey – TBD

Cap Hit: TBD

 

I am including Vesey on my “guys to trade” list simply because I don’t think his value will ever be as high as it is right now and the hype around this kid today is crazy.

 

We all know what his salary is going to be (or at least we can assume what it will be).  Since we know he’s going to be an unrestricted free agent in August, he will sign with someone for the maximum a rookie can sign for. He will get a two-year deal with an AAV of $3.775 million per season. Because of his age, the maximum term he can get is two years.

 

My issue with Vesey is simple; he’s a 22-year-old who is one of the better US college players today, but I don’t honestly think he’s nearly as dominant as many seem to think he will be, at least not at the next level. Don’t get me wrong, I think he will be a solid second-line player but I just don’t see that something special in him that other college kids have produced.

 

For example, you look at a kid like Gaudreau, who put up two points-per-game in his third and final season with Boston College (80 points in 40 games) a couple years ago before making the leap to the NHL. Now that’s special.

 

You can also look at what Kyle Connor is doing this year as a 19-year-old kid. His 71 points in 38 games this year (just under two points-per-game) is something special.

 

There are plenty of other examples I could dig up but I think you get what I am trying to say here. At 22 years of age, Vesey put up 46 points in 33 games this year, an average of 1.39 points-per-game. There’s nothing wrong with that but considering his age and his development level, that number isn’t anything spectacular or even special. There are other college seniors putting up offensive numbers over a point-per-game and we don’t hear anything about them. In fact, there were six other college kids in Division One hockey this past season that had a higher point-per-game average (and overall point total) than Vesey.  One was a college freshman, three were Juniors, one was a Sophomore and one other Senior.  My guess, the only one the majority of the readers here can name is the freshman, Kyle Connor.

 

I guess what I am trying to say here; I have my doubts that Vesey lives up to the hype he carries at this very moment; at least that’s this guy’s humble opinion. We have seen some electric scorers come from the US College system and have turned into fantastic scorers in the NHL, but how many of them came to the NHL as a 22-year-old? I have no doubt if you put this kid up for sale, other GM’s in your league will be chomping at the bit to get him and you could really turn Vesey into a nice return for your team. I don’t own Vesey in any of my keepers so I really have no skin in the game with him, but if I did, this is exactly what I would be doing with him. Once he signs and starts playing in the NHL, I have a feeling his value is going to drop significantly compared to what it is today. 

 

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As always, thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment.  You can also follow me on Twitter @chrispudsey