With the Stanley Cup and all the other hardware awarded, we’re now getting into the fun part of the offseason where teams’ plans are starting to take shape, and we’re seeing some questionable decisions already. Let’s dive into some of the moves, sort the good from the bad, and see what impact this may have on a team’s cap situation, and on a player’s fantasy cap league value.
First though, a small but important note that apparently some NHL owners and GMs are worried that the salary cap will not rise to the $83 million that was expected and could instead sit below the $82 million threshold for next season. This is important for those in salary cap leagues where the NHL cap is used as some baseline for the league cap, and important that teams may struggle to sign their last few players, resulting in more bargain contracts in August, more players left as free-agents to sign in other leagues, and more players on two-way contracts that find their way into NHL lineups.
Erik Karlsson Signing
Cap Hit: $11,500,000 for the next eight years
The San Jose Sharks seem to think that Erik Karlsson will be back to his old self and worth the same money he would have been owed before struggling through a campaign in which he was slowed mainly by a nagging groin injury. If the Sharks believe Karlsson to be healthy enough for an eight-year contract, then fantasy owners should have the same faith in him. Seeing him at full strength would give the Sharks new life, and a great shot at winning the Stanley cup in the next few seasons. For fantasy owners, he can be as valuable as John Tavares was in the most recent campaign.
That being said, one player doesn’t bring a Stanley Cup home, and the Sharks next year may not be able to put together the same depth teams such as St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and Boston had this past year (especially if the cap doesn’t hit the expected $83 million). Trading away Justin Braun was a necessary move to start, but with Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc set to use up most of the remaining cap, the remaining forwards may have to come from the bottom of the barrel just to fill out the roster.
These two are getting lumped together as they fall into the same category. Neither the Flyers nor the Kings needed another anchor on the blueline, and they both have young players ready to step into a bottom pairing role (moreso the Flyers). Both teams also have ample cap space for the offseason and were better off spending a little extra to have an anchor off the roster. Fantasy-wise, neither is likely worthy of rostering even if they do sign on as a cheap depth piece elsewhere, meanwhile there are now holes to be filled by possible fantasy relevant players in deeper leagues such as Phillipe Myers, Matt Roy, or Kale Clague.
Jordan Eberle Signing
Cap Hit: $5,500,000 for the next five years
The Jordan Eberle signing is getting criticized in some circles, and there is some good reason for it. However, from where I sit, this has the potential to be a value contract for the Islanders. For an unrestricted free agent, that is almost unheard of. Eberle’s worst season of his career played a big role in the reduced price, as he failed to pace for 40+ points for the first time in his career. This was despite seeing the highest powerplay time since 2014 and having Anders Lee as his most common linemate. It’s not like he hit a rough patch either, he was just consistently mediocre – between eight to 10 points in every quarter of the season.
Looking further into the actual contract numbers, capfriendly’s contract comparable page is a good place to start. Unfortunately for Eberle’s fantasy owners, the comparable contracts are a who’s who list of awful contracts from the last five years, starting with James Neal as the most similar. However, looking down the list, there are some names who are at least playing up to their contract, such as James van Reimsdyk, T.J. Oshie, and Josh Bailey. What they have in common, is they all signed their big free agent deal before their 30th birthday. Hopefully that is the case for Eberle as well, as he doesn’t turn 30 until next year’s playoffs.
All-in-all, the numbers paint a bleak picture for Eberle’s value in fantasy leagues moving forward, but after having paced for over 50 points in every NHL season before this one, a $5.5 million cap hit is a fair price in points leagues. Multi-category leagues on the other hand, you’re best to be staying away from him.
Corey Perry Buyout
The Ducks’ GM Bob Murray bit the bullet on Wednesday, buying out the final two years of a player who had been with the team since being drafted in 2003. Perry won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007 and won the Hart trophy in 2011. Perry has fallen hard and fast, but is an excellent rebound candidate going into next season, as we should see him sign a contract with a team that can put him in a position to succeed. A team like the Sabres or Avalanche could use Perry’s combination of grit, experience, and scoring touch as a net-front presence on a second powerplay unit. Look for him to sign with a team lacking in the secondary scoring department, and with the numbers above showing how much Perry is earning anyways, he should be able to take a very small contract to sign with a contender and chase another Stanley Cup.
My personal wish is to see Perry sign for the league minimum in San Jose helping them with their cap problems and play on a line with Joe Thornton (who re-signs for $1 million). They then go on to win the Sharks (but mostly Thornton) a Cup next year.
Kevin Hayes Signing
Cap Hit: $7,142,857 for the next seven years
You are indeed reading that right. I’m sure you have seen it elsewhere as well, but it’s still hard to believe. Kevin Hayes could follow the big-man breakout trajectory, and put up his best season after 400 games, but on this deal, Hayes still won’t be able to provide value to fantasy owners. Whatever GM Chuck Fletcher was thinking, it’s not good. Brock Nelson’s signing was criticized as too much money, and as a similar player, Hayes topped both the term and AAV.
Other Depth Signings
Also of potential interest to those of you in deeper cap leagues, Carl Hagelin, Brayden Coburn, and Anthony Duclair. All should provide relevant fantasy stats for the amount they are getting paid this year, especially from Duclair who could see top-six time in Ottawa. On the flip side, the term on Hagelin’s contract is concerning, so if there is any kind of drop restriction in your league based on the length of contracts, his would be one to scrutinize further before buying.
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You can find me on Twitter @alexdmaclean.
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