This week's Capped continues the buy and sell series with Tampa Bay through to Philadelphia.
As I prefaced last week, “this will be a multi-week feature, covering each NHL team, analyzing one player to buy, and one to sell. These recommendations will be based on their performance versus cap hit. That means in non-cap leagues, some of these suggestions may not be as relevant, but that doesn’t mean the analysis isn’t relevant. Generally, these players will either be riding new contracts into the season or be expected to have a large shift in value, for one reason or another.”
This week, we work through from Tampa Bay to Philadelphia. But first, let’s catch up on a few cap world happenings first.
Ryan Ellis signed an eight-year extension with the Nashville Predators with an AAV of $6.25 million. This is exactly the type of deal we had gone over for him in last month’s article looking ahead to significant contract extensions. He may not keep up last season’s 60-point pace, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be outplaying his value throughout this deal.
Dylan Larkin signed a similar extension and is a popular pick by many to break out this coming year. Even at last year’s pace, he’s worth the dollars. Any improvement on top of him makes him a bargain. Best-case scenario is this contract starts to look like those of Nathan MacKinnon and Mark Scheifele.
Steven Santini signed a three-year contract at an AAV of $1.4 million, and with it, seems ready to play out an entire season. Last season he provided great per-game rates in the peripheral categories, however he didn’t play enough. As a third-pairing defenceman, as this contract seems to indicate, he will provide sneaky value in deeper leagues.
Ondrej Kase also signed a three-year deal with an AAV of $2.6 million. This was lower even than my cautious estimates. He is already the best right winger on the Ducks, and this contract is going to be a steal for all three years.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Buy: J. T. Miller
Cap Hit: $5,250,000 with five years remaining
Take advantage while your league makes haven’t fully grasped the potential here from Miller. Last year’s 57 points will be surpassed this season, as Miller seems the likely fill in on a line with Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. Miller also adds hit volume, and should provide faceoff win totals, taking draws on his strong side.
Miller’s shot totals have never been exceptionally high, however with line mates of Stamkos and Kucherov, he doesn’t have to be the shooter. As a minimum, we can probably hope for a 25-goal and 40-assist pace (assuming good health). His contract looks like a solid deal all around.
Sell: No one?
It’s tough to see anyone on this squad that you could really sell before a drop off in value. None of the top guns are going to see their value drop off, and none of the secondary players have their value inflated extremely high. A case could be made for Yanni Gourde before his next contract, however there are so many red flags, that’s all owners will see and you won’t get fair value.
Aside from that, general manager Yzerman also does a fantastic job managing around the salary cap, so you don’t have to worry about large long-term extensions denting a player’s value. Hold your Tampa Bay players for now, sell as needed when they get off to a torrid start again this year. In the month of October (11 games) the Lightning play only one team that got past the first round of the playoffs last season – that being the Golden Knights, who are likely to regress a little from last year’s adrenaline-fueled run.
St. Louis Blues
Buy: Jake Allen
Cap Hit: $4,350,000 with three years remaining
While St. Louis revamped their forwards and looks to have a healthy blueline going into 2018-2019, no one is discussing their goaltending. Allen has had some ups and downs during his career, but last year it was mostly down. Last season was especially bad; and especially his last five starts. However, goaltenders can be the toughest ones to acquire, regardless of contract. Allen’s is cheaper than most starters, and St. Louis has the potential to be a 50-win team next season based on skaters alone. With Allen starting 55-60 games, that would give him about 40 wins next season. If a 40-win goalie could help your team at $4.35 million, then you should be inquiring. It won’t get any less pricy than this in terms of starters.
Sell: Alex Pietrangelo
Cap Hit: $6,500,000 with two years remaining
There are three things working against Pietrangelo’s value at the moment. First, is the likely reduction in powerplay time (going down from a career high of 3:02 per game). Second, is the fact he just had triplets (not one, not two, but three babies to disrupt his offseason schedule – that won’t be easy). Third, he has two years left on his contract, and by the end of the season, everyone is going to know he will be looking for a Drew Doughty-like extension.
Put those three together, and you’re looking at a recipe for a big decline in trade value by the end of the season. As a 50-point defenceman who put up over 200 shots, there is a lot of value here. You may not want to move him now, but it will sting much less if you can get a package along the lines of Matt Dumba and a decent forward. Shop him around at least and see what the offers are like.
San Jose Sharks
Buy: Tim Heed
Cap Hit: $650,000 with one year remaining
This is a buy for slightly deeper leagues (not just your standard 12 team league). Heed’s value is about as low as it can be right now, but as the season goes on, that should change. San Jose hasn’t exactly needed a secondary offensive defenceman since the Wookiee (AKA Brent Burns) carries more than his own weight in the other team’s end. However, with San Jose looking like they can roll out a more balanced attack than any of the last handful of years, having a true powerplay quarterback for the second unit would do wonders for them.
Giving Heed a little more help on the second powerplay and allowing him a little more rope that the 16 minutes a night, could jump his production way above the 11 points from last season. In his first quarter, Heed posted 7 points in 16 games, racking up 37 shots in that span. None of his secondary numbers were remarkably unsustainable, all that he needs is a chance to play. If he can beat out one of Joakim Ryan or Dylan DeMelo, we will see just that.
Sell: Logan Couture
Cap Hit: $6,000,000 with one year remaining – $8,000,000 AAV extension kicking in as of July 1, 2019.
There aren’t really many sell highs in San Jose. Generally, with these players you know what you’re getting. That being said, Couture’s extension flying under the radar at this point, many GMs will have forgotten he is due $8 million for the next eight years. That is likely a contract that is worth getting out from under, and this may be your last chance to do so at close to fair value.
Couture is viewed as a consistent 60-65 point centre, of which there are many on better contracts around the league. Keep an eye out on the buy sections here especially, as there may be some good trade options for you these.
Buy: Daniel Sprong
Cap Hit: $734, 167 with one year remaining
Sprong is on a one-way contract for the first time in his career, and as a result, he seems set to play a full season for the first time too. We have too small a sample size to determine much about Sprong’s potential (26 games over the course of three years doesn’t tell us much). However, we do have the wonderful folks over at DopperProspects to help us out here.
From Daniel Sprong’s prospect page, the bottom line on him is that he is going to be a very good player: “A bright prospect who would be on the NHL roster of most organizations, Sprong has a promising future as a big league sniper”.
Prospects are generally tough to acquire before they get their big break, however their value peaks as soon as they start producing at the NHL level. Expect that to be this season for Sprong, perhaps even by November as he gets settled in. At that point, you could flip him for even more, or sit back and enjoy the production.
Sell: Matt Murray
Cap Hit: $3,750,000 with two years remaining.
Hold on a second, hear me out, and don’t call me crazy (well at least don’t do it yet). Matt Murray is at his peak value right now, even though his numbers have gone down every year. He’s on a tiny contract, he is led by one of the best teams in the NHL, he is 24 years old, and has already won two Stanley cups. For all those reasons, you should be selling. Murray has an injury history, a quality youngster coming up behind him (Tristan Jarry), a big contract extension coming in two years. Goalies are also voodoo. Three years ago, in your average league setup, the sixth-ranked goalie was Andrew Hammond. Last year, the top two goalies off the board in almost every draft, were Cam Talbot and Carey Price. How well did that work out? If you can trade Murray for a goalie with a little less variability, and a star forward, you had best be considering it.
Buy: Nolan Patrick
Cap Hit: $925,000 with two years remaining
There aren’t really any other buy-low opportunities with a team that saw most of its players overachieve last season. However, Nolan Patrick still has plenty of room to grow. The addition of James van Riemsdyk and a more consistent effort from Travis Konecny would provide a balanced top two lines. Patrick also saw more minutes as the season went on, and his production followed. In the last quarter of the season, he was scoring at a 50-point pace. His ice time should continue to rise over the 15 minutes he averaged in the last quarter (touching 19 minutes twice in six playoff games.
Powerplay exposure is also key. The former number two overall selection jumped to the first unit powerplay more and more as the season went on (taking Wayne Simmonds’ net-front presence role). Should Patrick see enough exposure on the top unit, he could triple his poweplay output of eight points from last season. His floor for this season should be 40 points, with potential to break out for much more. Just be wary of the injuries and be ready to replace him for stretches during the season.
Sell: Claude Giroux
Cap Hit: $8,275,000 with four years remaining
In a cap league, how do you sell high on a 30-year-old with a cap hit above $8 million? You wait for him to have a 100-point season, and then you shop him around. Giroux won’t replicate these numbers. All of his underlying percentages are screaming regression, so be wise and listen. You won’t be able to swap him for someone like Kucherov, but instead target someone only a couple years younger, and a little cheaper. Something along the lines of Mark Stone and a kicker, or perhaps check in with the Seguin owner to see if they’re scared off by his impending extension. This one isn’t rocket science.
Recent Capped articles:
Thanks for reading. I would be curious to hear if you have any buy/sell candidates on the above teams, and why.
As always, you can find me on twitter @alexdmaclean.
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