This week's Capped discusses some of the underperforming players on high contracts, and why they are a good bet to bounce back.
With four weeks under our belts, there are some slumping players to blame for slumping teams as well as lineup trends to question. Lots of fantasy managers are jumping to overreact, while lots of coaches will be trying their hardest not to. As we saw with Crosby last year, even superstars get off to horrible starts (by their standards) tend to even out over the course of the season. Especially in salary cap leagues, your stars on the big contracts need to be producing, if they’re not, then you can be in big trouble, very quickly.
So who can realistically be expected to bounce back and still be worth their cap hit? We already saw both the struggling Andrew Ladd and Loui Eriksson in a recent Cage Match, and many others have been talked about in the tortoise and hare articles over the last few weeks, so I will try to diversify a little here. Ladd and Eriksson have both since scored their first of the season, but fantasy owners will need a lot more out of them to make up for where they were drafted. Of the players featured below, each has cost more than $1 Million per point so far this season, and is performing well below expectations.
There were blurbs already written out on Monday for Henrik Sedin, P.K. Subban and Pekka Rinne, discussing their slow starts, and how they should be getting on track sooner rather than later. Fast-forward past the Tuesday night games, and half of this article became obsolete. Since Capped gets posted on Thursdays, they have had to be revised a little based on the Tuesday/Wednesday games. Summing up the paragraphs that were taken out, Sedin has been so consistent over the last few years, and Vancouver has to start scoring (don’t they?). He will pick it up, but still likely won’t be worth that $7 Million cap hit. P.K. Subban is having quite the adjustment period, but so is all of Nashville it seems. He is too skilled to not pick it up, and provides value across so many categories, making his $9 Million dollar cap hit easier to swallow. As for Pekka Rinne, he does seem to be declining, but with the skilled team in front of him, his win numbers should be good enough on their own to provide good value for a fantasy team this year.
Though it is nice to see a bit of market correction for the above-mentioned players, it does mean that the ones remaining are just that much farther behind. It may be a couple of days, or a couple of weeks, but they will come around.
Jaden Schwartz (LW) – St. Louis Blues
Contract – $5,350,000
Missing the first three games of the season due to an elbow injury really seemed to put off Jaden Schwartz. Whether he hasn’t fully healed, he hasn’t synced up with teammates, or if it’s just that his timing isn’t fully there, causing his slump, we may never know. What we do know is that he is a very talented player with 60+ point potential. In addition, he is being put in a position to succeed. Over the last few years, Schwartz has shown some great chemistry with fellow Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko is undisputedly one of the top stars in today’s game. Schwartz having the opportunity to ride shotgun with him should mean that any slumps through the season are short ones – not that he projects to have many.
Schwartz is one of those players, who is dominant when healthy, but never seems to be healthy enough to be worth what his draft position costs. Similar to Marian Gaborik, if your league has a decent IR system, then you should be able to manage the games that he will miss this season. In the games he does play though, the final totals he racks up should be well worth the $5.35 Million contract.
Contract – $6,875,000 & $5,250,000
The Bruins on the whole have been close to where they were expected to be; right on the bubble on playoff contention. They have managed this through two of their top players providing some disappointing offensive numbers thus far. Tuukka Rask is keeping them in games, as they currently sit in the bottom third of the league for goals scored. The power play is also only running at 14.6% efficiency. Bringing that up to around 20% over the course of the season would do wonders in fixing their numbers.
Bergeron is coming off of a great season in which he put up his highest point total since 2007. So maybe another 68-point season isn’t in the cards, but 60+ points is still very realistic. His current pace of 32 points is much too low, as the only season he failed to crack 50 points while playing 70+ games, was way back in his rookie season. Bergeron should be able to jump back up into his normal range soon. The strange thing is though, that there aren’t any underlying numbers that show where Bergeron is going wrong. His shooting percentage is a little low, but one more goal at this point would correct that.
On the defensive end of things, Torey Krug is up to 45 shots on the season (six more on Tuesday night) and still hasn’t scored. The dam is going to break soon enough. Coming off of offseason shoulder surgery, there was a lot expected of Krug to start. Some had him pegged as high as 50 points. However at this point I think we can write off a 50-point campaign for him. Expecting 35 points the rest of the way would be more realistic, which would still be a 40-point pace over the course of a season. With how much the middle tier of defencemen seems to be making nowadays, this could be a nice buy for the rest of the season, especially if you need a little boost in goals.
Bergeron and Krug may not be the best bargains in your cap league, but bouncing back from disappointing starts, they should still be very serviceable players, and play up to the salary that they are making. If you have the cap space, make a pitch. If you own them, then now is definitely not the time to sell.
Plenty of players struggle to start the season, and often winning a hockey pool can come down to having the patience to wait out these slumps, and reaping the rewards in the long run. It’s a long 82 game season, and we’re not even 20% of the way through it thus far.
As always, thanks for reading, and comments are welcome!
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- Capped: Early returns on a cost-per-point basis