Capped: Looking Ahead to the 2019 UFA Class

by Alexander MacLean on November 15, 2018
  • Capped
  • Capped: Looking Ahead to the 2019 UFA Class


Happy Thursday everyone!

With Le’Veon Bell sitting out the full season for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL, it is starting to look a little more realistic that William Nylander does the same with the Maple Leafs. That being said, now is not the time to trade him in any kind of keeper or dynasty league. His value is as low as it will ever be, and the uncertainty over exactly how much he will be earning, will scare off a few other potential suitors. As for Kyle Dubas, he has the impossible job of walking a tightrope between holding firm on contract numbers, exploring trade avenues, and keeping his eyes open in the staring contest between himself and Nylander’s agent.

The first one to blink isn’t necessarily going to lose, but the one to hold firm the longest is certainly going to emerge a winner. Once Auston Matthews returns for the Leafs, the pressure comes off to get Nylander back in the fold as a reinforcement. He’s a luxury they can afford to wait on right now.

I’m also hoping that by writing about this on the Tuesday, Murphy’s Law rears its ugly head and the whole situation is resolved right at publishing time on Thursday.



Jakob Chychrun signed a six-year extension with the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday, locking him in along with Oliver Ekman-Larsson past 2025. As both are left-handed shots, it is likely that Chychrun ends up playing second fiddle for most of his career. On a team where he could grow into the lead role by his fifth season, he would be a key defenceman to own in dynasty leagues, but at this point, his upside is severely limited by the OEL road block.

That being said, a $4.6 million price tag is a solid price for Arizona to pay. The two closest comparables are Brett Pesce and Shayne Gostisbehere. Chychrun can be just as good of a player as the other two in real life, while in the fantasy world of points leagues he falls right in the middle of the two; in multi-category set ups, his value grows closer to that of Gostisbehere, but still a full tier and a half below. The deal also looks better than the contract their desert mates in Vegas just gave Shea Theodore. Chychrun and Theodore will be comparable players through their prime years, Theodore taking a bit more of an offensive role, while Chychrun gets the tougher defensive assignments, leading to higher peripheral value.



Let’s take a jump forward to the 2019 Free Agent class.


The Forwards

In a winger heavy free agency year, some new standards are going to be set for proven scoring wingers. Mark Stone, Artemi Panarin, and Jeff Skinner are possibly al breaking the $8 million mark, with the possibility for more. As Jeff Skinner looks like the only one of the three that has a remote chance to re-up with their current team, the fireworks will be flying on July 1st, 2019. The second tier of wingers with Jordan Eberle, Anders Lee, and Wayne Simmonds will all be looking to cash in, but their new contracts will largely depend on how the rest of their respective seasons play out.

Where do we look then for the best possible bargains from this set of free-agents? Try those coming off of disappointing seasons, but with the higher ceilings. Andre Burakovsky (RFA) may even take a hit on his current $3 million AAV due to a couple of disappointing years. William Karlsson also hasn’t produced to expectations and may be regretting not cashing in on a long-term deal last summer. As the top centre in Vegas he will still get paid, but he may not break the $6 million AAV threshold. Joonas Donskoi continues to be one of the most underrated producers at his sub-two million cap hit. Lost in the glut of offensive talent in San Jose, he could be due for some additional opportunities with Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton questionable to re-sign in teal.


The Defence

The big Shark is Erik Karlsson, and it sounds like San Jose may try to keep him around long-term. Don’t count on him hitting free-agency, and a contract extension would look something like Drew Doughty’s recent signing in Los Angeles. No defenceman has ever hit a triple-digit dollar value on a contract, but it would surprise no one if Karlsson was the first to hit that plateau.

After Karlsson, there is a large drop off, and anyone on the list is unlikely to be signed to any kind of bargain contract. When it comes to defence, those come along when you get a player like Jakob Chychrun locked up early, almost never is it through free-agency. Jacob Trouba (RFA) is the next biggest name, with others such as Jake Gardiner, Tyler Myers, and Alex Edler following suit. Unless you are in a large multi-category league and Edler signs a short-term bargain deal, then you should generally be staying away from this year’s UFA crop of rearguards.


The Goalies

Last week we starterd looking into the goalies:

“The Rinne contract also sets up the goalie market for a busy off-season. The list of goalies without contracts yet for next season looks something like this:



Add in Keith Kinkaid, plus a few other journeymen backups, and we are set up for quite the carousel come July. With Rinne taking $5 million per year, it is tough to see anyone on the above list, except for Sergei Bobrovsky, being paid move than that. The next two on the list would be Cam Talbot and Semyon Varlamov; both should be around the $5 million range depending on how their respective seasons close out from here on.

Sergei Bobrovsky is the crown jewel of the goalie market here and could really change the fortunes of the team that lands him. The St. Louis Blues make the most sense, as they seem to be a goaltender away from becoming serious Cup contenders. Even at the $8 million price tag that many expect Bobrovsky to command, he will be one of the most reliable fantasy owns; especially if he signs with a team like St. Louis, that would improve his win totals from the Columbus years. With Jay Bouwmeester and Carl Gunnarsson coming off of the books at the end of the year, they have the space to make it work.



A little forgotten now, is that Rick Nash remains a free-agent. He is free to sign with any team and would have many suitors if he wanted to return to the game. At the moment, he is taking time away evaluating his options and resting his body. Nash has been through some rough injuries over the last few years, including concussions that are the root cause of why he is taking a break from the game. The 34-year-old would have plenty to add to a contending team for the stretch run and could fit well on a real Cup contender. If the Leafs don’t manage to sign Nylander, or if another top team loses a few wingers to injury, we could see someone tempt him back sooner than later. The more likely situation sees him following Mike Fisher’s path from last season, signing right around the trade deadline with a $1 million AAV to play for a chance at a cup.

In deeper leagues where you have a spot to burn, grabbing him in late January could pay off through the stretch run. I’ll remind you then.



Previous Capped articles:

Extensions for Rinne and Gourde

Cap Situations for all 31 NHL Teams



All cap related info is courtesy of Capfriendly.

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