Welcome to week four. 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 Montreal through New York.
You can find the previous buy and sell columns here.
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Buy: Brendan Gallagher
Cap Hit: $3,750,000 with two years remaining
I have been preaching on Gallagher for a few years now with his bargain contract, and dammit I will keep preaching him as a buy until he peaks, or signs a new contract. The Canadiens’ right winger tantalizes with an upside of 300 shots, 40 goals, and 30 assists in a season where everything comes together. In general, things seem to be looking up in Montreal this year. They have stability in net with Carey Price, a healthy set of defencemen, and some real depth on forward. If the power play can rebound after an atrocious year, clicking at only 13.2%, then the added power-play production from Gallahgher (he who averaged over two minutes per game of powerplay time last season), could see him top 65 points for the first time. He only factored in on seven power-play tallies last season, but bump that up to 20 and he would just have to produce at his same 45 even strength point pace from last season to be an extremely productive player at his cost.
Sell: Tomas Tatar
Cap Hit: $5,300,000 with two years remaining
Tatar put up a career high in points and plus-minus last year with the Canadiens, but tailed off a little as the year went on, and can’t reliably be expected to keep the pace up. He could see a similar uptick in power-play points as Gallagher, but Montreal has more options on the left side than the right. Add on an extra 50% of the cost over Gallagher, on top of less peripherals, and there really isn’t much upside to owning Tatar.
Buy: Viktor Arvidsson
Cap Hit: $4,250,000 with five years remaining
Arvidsson put up his best per-game stats to date last season, but because he only played 58 games he may still be able to fly just enough under the radar that you can get in on him before his production gets even better. As with Montreal, a cleaned-up power play will help the top unit this year, of which Arvidsson will no doubt be a part. Even on the back of a four (yes, FOUR) PP point season, he paced for 68 points. Add to that some powerplay production, and he can come close to a point-per-game, while only being paid $21 million over the next five years.
Sell: Mikael Granlund
Cap Hit: $5,750,000 with one year remaining
Granlund only put up five points in 16 games with Nashville last season, with only one in the last 11 games. His ice time dropped, his power-play time dropped, his shot rate dropped, and he looked out of place. Without time on the first unit to take advantage of a powerplay rebound, Granlund will struggle as he is not the focal point of the attack for the Predators. Add to that the fact that he is going to need a new contract next summer, which will be a raise on the current number, cap leaguers are best to be getting off the train now.
New Jersey Devils
Buy: Nico Hischier
Cap Hit: $925,000 with one year remaining
With all the hoopla around Jack Hughes joining the New Jersey Devils, the other former first overall pick has gotten cast aside. No, not Taylor Hall, the other one. Hischier has shown a solid floor, and a bit of development in his first two NHL seasons, pacing for 52 and 56 points successively. However, with Hughes, Hall, and newcomer P.K. Subban taking up all the media attention (and that of fantasy owners), now may be the time to try and sneak into the set with little Nico. Additionally, it’s best to get in now before a fourth season breakout, and before a nice bridge deal or cheaper long-term contract makes him unattainable in cap leagues.
Sell: Damon Severson
Cap Hit: $4,166,666 with three years remaining
Everyone seems to be saying that P.K. Subban coming in is going to take away Butcher’s offensive ice time, but the fact is that Subban shoots right, Butcher shoots left, and if anyone is losing opportunity it’s Severson. After putting up a career season of 39 points, most of those power-play points are going to disappear, and some of the even strength ones as well. That likely puts him down to the 25- to 30-point range he has put up the rest of his career. For a defenceman making over $4 million, that is about the minimum production you can expect. Sell him as a 35-point defenceman if you can.
New York Islanders
Buy: Oliver Wahlstrom
Cap Hit: $925,000 with three years remaining (Slide candidate)
It seems that Wahlstrom’s stock has gone nowhere but down since he was drafted 11th overall. From the Wahlstrom Dobberprospects page last updated in April: “He will join Bridgeport on their playoff run as he looks to gain some pro experience. Fantasy owners should be happy with this development as we should see him in the NHL a lot sooner rather than later”. After the disappointing season with Boston College, he managed a respectable three points in five playoff games with the Islanders’ AHL affiliate, which is a very positive sign towards his development, maturity, and the possibility of his stock rebounding quickly next season. This is likely the lowest it will be.
Sell: Mathew Barzal
Cap Hit: $863,333 with one year remaining
The standoffs and current asking prices of the RFA crop from this summer should already have you thinking about whether or not it makes sense to move him while his value is high (currently close to the top-five in single season cap leagues by some of my preliminary rankings). Add to that the Barry Trotz factor, and we have a definite sell-high candidate. Under the previous coaching staff, Barzal managed to score over a point-per-game, while under Trotz, he put up a more pedestrian 62 points in 82 games. His production in future seasons will likely lie somewhere in between those two extremes, but his value is still seen as that of an 85-point player. If you can sell him at that level, you will come out ahead on the whole and in the long run.
New York Rangers
Buy: Chris Kreider
Cap Hit: $4,625,000 with one year remaining
As an unrestricted free agent next July, Kreider is likely to be shipped out by the Rangers at the deadline. To get the best return, he should be put in a position to succeed with the Rangers for the first three-quarters of the season. That should build up his value enough for you to then flip him again before the deadline when he gets flipped to a playoff team to play on their third line. There will be a very short period between the buy-low and the sell-high windows, and everyone likes to make money fast. When it’s this easy, you almost feel bad about taking advantage of it. Almost.
On the flipside, if the Rangers’ rebuild bears fruit early and this team is good enough to be realistically pushing for a playoff spot, then Kreider will have been a big part of a successful top-six forward group, and will still end up getting paid too much in the following offseason.
Sell: Anthony DeAngelo
Cap Hit: RFA at time of writing
DeAngelo’s contract aside, it is the depth chart that is going to hold him back. Being the third RD on the depth chart behind Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox means that productive ice time is going to be hard to come by. After pacing for 40 points last season, fantasy owners were finally rewarded for their patience on some of the potential he was labelled with coming into the NHL. Talent can only get players like DeAngelo so far though, and without the opportunity, the production will suffer this year.
You can find me on Twitter @alexdmaclean.
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