Welcome to week three. To recap, in the buy and sell features, I profile one player per team to sell, and one to buy. These recommendations are based on salary cap leagues, and I try to cover various league sizes and categories. Last year we started alphabetically at the bottom, so this year we’re starting at the top. This week is Detroit through Minnesota.
Readers can go through previous buy and sell articles here.
Detroit Red Wings
Buy: Filip Hronek
Cap Hit: $714,166 with two years remaining
By now everyone has already told you to get Anthony Mantha on your team for next season. I won’t argue against that, but I do want to bring forward another, potentially more under-the-radar name for you, and that is Hronek. Despite fluctuating ice time, and inconsistent teammates, Hronek managed to up his production in every successive quarter last year, finishing on a 41-point pace. With Mike Green showing his age, Detroit doesn’t have a better option as a puck mover. Hronek would get points by default this way, even if he wasn’t talented, but he is. After a mid-campaign demotion to work on his defensive game, Hronek rejoined the Red Wings and made his presence felt, showing that he can be one of their better defencemen at both ends of the rink.
The Dobber Prospects team has been talking about his powerplay potential all the way back to 2017, and he is going to have a chance to show it off this year. As a bit of a bold prediction, I think he outscores Cale Makar next season.
Sell: Jimmy Howard
Cap Hit: $4,000,000 with one year remaining
It’s tough to find sell-high candidates on the Wings since none of them have an exceptionally high stock to begin with. Howard was the sole All-Star representative from the team last year, and signed a contract with a cap hit at 78% of his number from last year (though his AAV has stayed the same due to bonuses). One might think that finding an All-Star goalie at a reduced price might be a good buy-low, but let’s take into account some other factors first.
- This Wings team is not going to be good next year – perhaps even worse than last year.
- Howard is now 35 years old. Of the nine goalies aged 35 or older last season to play at least one game, only Pekka Rinne and Curtis McElhinney seem to be outwaiting father time.
- Howard has seen his percentage numbers decline for three consecutive seasons.
- Starting goalies always have sell value, but there is no guarantee Howard is still the starter at season’s end.
Buy: Tyler Benson
Cap Hit: $808,333 with two years remaining
Everyone seems to trip over themselves to try and acquire the new shiny toy that might play on Connor McDavid’s wing. One of those players could come from an internal promotion of the leading scorer from the Oilers’ AHL affiliate. Benson plays a heavy style of game and seems to have found a way to produce without the benefit of top-end speed or agility.
With the forward core of the Oilers not looking very deep entering next season, there is room for Benson to jump up to a top six role playing alongside either McDavid or Leon Draisaitl. Either one would instantly bump him up to the value Ty Rattie had entering last season (with an average draft slot inside the top 200). Now is the time to acquire him for pennies on the dollar.
Sell: Darnell Nurse
Cap Hit: $3,200,000 with one year remaining
This is one of those deals that you would only make if you are getting a sufficient replacement for the coming season, as well as a piece (or pieces) to help you down the line. Nurse put up a career high 41 points last season, with the only large change in any of his numbers coming on the powerplay, where he picked up eight more assists than the zero he had the previous year. However, a large part of that powerplay time (and almost all of the production) came in the 22.5 games Oscar Klefbom missed due to injury. Nurse only put up two more powerplay points in the last two months of the season, one in Klefbom’s first game back where he was still getting his legs. Soon after, Klefbom again had control of the top powerplay, and Nurse was relegated to sparse second unit minutes. If that continues into next season, don’t expect the same offensive production, and adding large pay raise to that next summer makes it seem like now is the time to get out on Nurse.
Buy: Vincent Trocheck
Cap Hit: $4,750,000 with three years remaining
For those of you in any fantasy league, Trocheck has value. The more categories you add, the more his value grows. Add in a salary cap, and his bargain contract thrusts his value even higher. After a rough campaign marred with a gruesome ankle injury, Trocheck has had a long summer to recuperate and regain his strength. He wasn’t the same player after he came back from injury in February, but he should be back to normal by the fall, and should be able to produce offensively flanked by Mike Hoffman in a contract year, and the incoming Brett Connolly. Trocheck still won’t be cheap to acquire in a trade or at the draft, but this is the lowest his value will be for a long time.
Sell: Spencer Knight
Cap Hit: unsigned – drafted 13th overall in 2019
This one is for the deeper leagues with prospect drafts, and it may seem a little strange, but hear me out. If Knight is valuable enough in your league to have caused you to reach enough to be the one to draft him, then odds are there are managers who are feeling like they missed out on the top goalie prospect available. Now that drafts are over, we have a chance to take a deep breath, and we have seen that Sergei Bobrovsky has signed to block Knight for the next several years. Based on the salary distribution of the contract, we can hazard a guess that year six (where the annual salary drops off) is where Bobrovsky starts to cede the net to Knight. If you want to sit on a piece that will do zilch for your team over the next five years (except for possibly be labelled a bust), be my guest. On the other hand, this is where you can trade Knight either for nother goalie closer to the action like Tristan Jarry and Alexander Georgiev, or possibly turn him into a different asset to fill a hole on your active roster.
Los Angeles Kings
Buy: Carl Grundstrom
Cap Hit: $925,000 with one year remaining
Last season, in the final games of Los Angeles’ season, the top power-play forwards were Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Grundstrom. Finding cheap forwards can be the key to succeeding in deeper fantasy leagues, and Los Angeles has room in their top six, while prospects like Gabe Vilardi, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, and Alex Turcotte are not quite ready to step in. If LA continues with the slotting of Grundstrom on a top powerplay line, there could be sneaky value for the upcoming year (just about all of the value you are going to find in LA).
Sell: Depth Defencemen
After the buyout of Dion Phaneuf, that leaves the Los Angeles Kings with six right-handed defencemen, and a mediocre Derek Forbort. The problem is that there are only three spots on the right side of the blueline (maybe four in the lineup if someone moves to their off-side). For those of you who own, or are thinking about buying stock in players such as Paul Ladue, Alec Martinez, or Matt Roy, then beware that usage, deployment, and opportunity may be limited this upcoming season unless some drastic moves are made.
Buy: Eric Staal
Cap Hit: $3,250,000 with two years remaining
We can’t always be getting younger, and sometimes it’s the production from the 35-year-olds that can put you over the top. Generally, those that fall into the “older” grouping of players are cheaper to acquire, and for the production the eldest Staal can bring, he has an excellent contract. Since he’s a family man, he took a bit of a discount for some certainty in location, and a guarantee he won’t be traded. This consistency means we can likely see a similar season this year, as to what Staal produced last year.
Sell: Mats Zuccarello
Cap Hit: $6,000,000 with five years remaining
Aside from Devan Dubnyk all the way back in 2014-2015, is there a player in the last decade who has gone to Minnesota and experienced an uptick in their offensive production? I can’t think of one off the top of my head. For a winger that will be 32 years old when the season starts, and has just gotten a raise to the point that he no longer has value just from a cheaper contract, there isn’t much upside to owning Zuccarello in a cap league right now, regardless of categories. He is an excellent player, but he won’t be able to drag the other Wild players into a higher production tier, which is what the second tier free-agents are always expected to do – and they almost all inevitably fail. Get out before you find yourself having to pull a swap similar to James Neal for Milan Lucic.
You can find me on Twitter @alexdmaclean.
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