Phew. What a wild ride we are on this spring. Lots of great hockey, and a few more series still to be decided. Any of the final four teams make for good Stanley Cup winning stories. Since the Bolts have made their series a little closer, it really is wide open with these remaining four teams. Let’s enjoy it while we can, before all that we’re left with for the summer is baseball and bad trade rumours.
Last May, I put out two articles looking into a few players who would be worth owning if they could rebound from injuries that hindered their successes in the previous season. This year, we are starting with the Western Conference, because last year we started with the East. This looks into some higher profile players, and therefore should be relevant in all-types of cap leagues (and non-cap leagues too for that matter).
Ryan Getzlaf – Anaheim Ducks
Current Cap Hit: $8,250,000 (UFA, July 2021)
Getzlaf will never be a “bargain” per-se in cap leagues, however he is someone that owners can count on rebounding, providing full value for his contract in 2018-19. Over the past five seasons before this one, Getlaf missed between four and eight games per-season. We know he misses a few games each year due to small ailments, however he hasn’t missed a large chunk of time to injury since the 2010-11 campaign. In late October, he suffered a freak injury when a puck deflected up into his face, fracturing his cheekbone.
The injury required surgery, but Getzlaf returned sooner than expected and didn’t miss a beat. He actually managed to bump up his points-per-game numbers for the second straight season. All of Getzlaf’s advanced stats check out, and his shot rate has jumped back up after a bit of a dip the year before. One thing to keep an eye on, is Getzlaf’s useful ice time. His powerplay deployment was up, his penalty kill use was down, and his overall minutes the highest they have averaged since 2012.
Do not fear a repeat long-term injury here. If the ice time keeps up, so will the production. Keep a close eye on that to begin next season.
Jeff Carter – Los Angeles Kings
Current Cap Hit: $5,272,727 (UFA, July 2022)
If I hadn’t scrolled through multiple pages of the NHL points leaders from this past season, getting all the way down to 20, then I would have forgotten to write Jeff Carter in for this list. After missing two-thirds of the season with a sliced Achilles tendon, even Carter’s return flew under the radar.
In part, Anze Kopitar’s stellar year may have had something to do with the underappreciation of Carter’s limited production this season. However, there is still no excusing the fact that Carter gets no attention for his monster fourth quarter. Carter put up 19 points in his last 20 games, racking up 86 shots and eight powerplay points in that span. None of his advanced stats toss up any red flags either.
At age 33 Carter may not be relied upon for fully healthy seasons anymore, but he does still have a few years of concentrated production left in the games that he does play.
Jaden Schwartz – St. Louis Blues
Current Cap Hit: $5,350,000 (UFA, July 2021)
Jaden Schwartz is an interesting case, as he started off last season on a tear (one that the advanced stats proclaimed was unsustainable), suffered an ankle injury in December, and then in the second half, set a whole different pace of numbers.
In the first half, Schwartz was lined up with Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko. That trio hummed along, pacing the league as one of the most dominant lines in the first quarter of the season. Schwartz himself shot over 20%, while only putting about two shots on net per game. In the last quarter of the season, that flipped. The left-winger’s goal total dropped to six over 20 games, while his shot rate jumped to almost three per game.
With a long off-season due to St. Louis missing the playoffs on the last day of the season, Schwartz should be in fine form come October. Expecting his numbers to stabilize somewhere in the middle of last year’s, would mean a final line something around 210 shots and 25 goals. Add that to the 30+ assists he has managed in his last four seasons of 60+ games played, and we have the baseline of another successful season for Schwartz.
If Tarasenko gets back to full strength after playing through a shoulder injury as well, then watch out!
Ryan Ellis – Nashville Predators
Current Cap Hit: $2,500,000 (UFA, July 2019)
This may be cheating a little, since Ellis returned from his injury in January, and shot the lights out for the second half of the season. He actually finished as the top rearguard in Nashville on a points-per-game basis, and was inside the top-10 league wide, showing no ill-effects from surgery is the summer of 2017.
Even better than Ellis’ points pace, his goal scoring pace would have put him second behind Victor Hedman had everyone played a full season at their final paces. None of Ellis’ advanced stats are extremely out of line either. To say he broke out would be an understatement.
We have heard word of some injuries coming out of the Nashville camp since their playoff elimination last week, but as far as we have heard, Ellis is healthy. With a full summer of rest/training, the wonderfully bearded Predators defenceman may be able to give teammates P.K. Subban and Roman Josi a run for the team lead in defenceman scoring next season. Good luck finding a better bargain next year among all defencemen.
Just a small note about Oliver Ekman-Larsson. It was reported that OEL is currently in talks with the Arizona Coyotes to sign a maximum length (eight-year) contract extension as soon as he is eligible on July 1st. The prediction model has him at about $7.1 million, however it is tougher to account for contracts that aren’t expected to kick in for another season.
Should OEL sign around the $7 million mark though, that would be a fair rate for both sides, and one that fantasy owners should be able to live with as well.
Recent Capped articles:
That caps off another Thursday. Happy long weekend!
If you want to talk hockey, salary caps, or anything even remotely related, you can find me on twitter any day of the week @alexdmaclean
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