Continuing our buy and sell series, we cover each NHL team, analyzing one player to buy, and one to sell (links to parts one, two and three). 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 feature Montreal through to Edmonton.
Buy: Max Pacioretty
Cap Hit: $4,500,000 with one year remaining
I feel like I have tooted the horn of Brendan Gallagher enough this off-season, so here is why you should also be looking into buying low on the captain Max Pac. Pacioretty is entering a contract year, which should see him rebound from a down year last season. The 2017-2018 season was the first time in five years that he did not score 30 goals, and the first time in seven years that he didn’t pace for 60 points. His shooting percentage was also the lowest it has been in almost a decade. Add in the likely trade out of Montreal, further boosting his value, and we have a big bounce-back candidate. On a $4.5 million contract, Pacioretty is one of the better scoring bargains in the league right now. Buy while the smoke from the Montreal tire-fire is still blurring the vision of fantasy owners.
Sell: Jeff Petry – In November
Cap Hit: $5,500,000 with three years remaining
You may have heard this already in the DobberHockey Fantasy Guide, as well as in a few ramblings over the past couple weeks, but it is worth reiterating. Shea Weber is out until at least December (likely later due to the nature of the injury), and Jeff Petry shone under similar circumstances at the end of last season. He is especially valuable in leagues that count hits and blocks.
Over the first half of this season, expect him to produce at a 40+ point pace, with added value in the shots & PP point columns as well. Let him build up his value over the first two months of the season to its peak, and then sell in mid-November. Get too close to Weber’s return date, and his perceived value drop greatly, and you have wasted an excellent sell-high opportunity. Try selling now, and no one appreciates what he can produce over those first three months.
Buy: Matt Dumba
Cap Hit: a shiny new $6,000,000 contract with five years remaining
Matt Dumba signed a larger contract extension than many were expecting from him this summer. However, he will be worth the extra dough right from day one. It is also not much more than market value (prediction model had him at an AAV of $5.5 million on a long-term deal), and as I said when the deal was signed, it’s very comparable to Dougie Hamilton on a cost vs performance basis.
The Dumba owner however, is likely just looking at the big jump from $2.5 million to $6 million, and trying to figure out how to balance the books. This is where you take the chance to jump in and save him the trouble by unloading Dumba. His points jumped every quarter last season, starting at nine, and ending with 16 in his last 21 games. Scoring 50 points next season almost seems like his floor. Add that to his excellent peripheral production, and we have a rare fantasy specimen (at only 24 years old to boot!).
Sell: Eric Staal
Cap Hit: $3,500,000 with one year remaining
Selling off a 40 goal, 76-point player on a cheap contract doesn’t seem like the smartest move when trying to win a cap league, does it? Well, it all depends on the situation. When said player has a season where their shooting percentage is four points higher than it has ever been, and is turning 34 early on in the season, it’s worth looking into selling high. The eldest Staal has fallen off a cliff before, though he was rejuvenated by a move to Minnesota. He can only keep this pace up for so long though, and at 34 years old you are pushing your luck if you expect 70-points from him again. Especially with a new contract looming, Staal’s value has nowhere to go but down.
Los Angeles Kings
Buy: Jonathan Quick
Cap Hit: $5,800,000 with five years remaining
With the wave of younger goalies taking over, it seems as though Jonathan Quick is quickly being forgotten. He has put up a save percentage of 0.915 or better over the last five years, and in the same time keeping his GAA at 2.4 or lower. Goalies don’t get much more consistent when healthy, which is a rarity in this key position. On a contract that is turning into a very team-friendly one, Quick brings stability in net for any fantasy squad at a very reasonable price.
Sell: Jake Muzzin
Cap Hit: $4,000,000 with two years remaining
Now is the best time to get peak value out of a consistent second or third defenceman on your fantasy squad. Muzzin has put up some similar numbers over the last few seasons, but there are a couple of troubling trends. Over the last three years, his shot rate has decreased, while his shooting percentage has gone up. This has resulted in masking a potential scoring drop off, reinforced by higher than average secondary percentages. Muzzin is also turning 30 in half a year, along with only having two years left before his price tag could double. Seeing Muzzin sign a five-year $8 million contract for September 2020 would not be unreasonable. Fantasy owners are generally even more cautious trading for defencemen, so waiting until he only has a year left on his deal would put a dent in his trade value.
Within last season, Muzzin also saw a drop-off each quarter as the season drew on. His shot rate, scoring, and powerplay ice time all dropped each quarter. If he continues from where he left off, he won’t be able to keep up his 40-point billing. Add in the risk of him being pushed off the top powerplay due to the addition of Kovalchuk, and there’s another 10 points cut off his total right there.
Buy: Mike Matheson
Cap Hit: $4,875,000 with seven years remaining
Florida tried to sign the next Roman Josi here, and have Matheson be worth his contract for the first three years, becoming an insanely good bargain for years four through eight. All signs point to that going well thus far, however Florida does have a similar problem to what happened in Nashville a few years ago. Josi didn’t break out until players such as Ryan Suter and Dan Hamhuis left a hole to be filled on the top pair. Aaron Ekblad isn’t going anywhere, so Matheson owners must bide their time for fellow left-hand-shot Keith Yandle to cede the top powerplay reins.
At 24 years old, Matheson is still growing into his own, and is almost a sure bet to pass the 30-point barrier for the first time this season, before continuing past more and more milestones as the years go by. Get in early here, or don’t get in at all.
Sell: No one?
I was very surprised that I couldn’t find a good sell-high for this team. Top players should continue to be the top players, and they are all on good contracts. No one largely relevant is coming up on a big raise, neither is anyone relevant close to falling off of the production cliff. If Florida could sort out their goaltender situation, then they would almost easily take a bottom half playoff spot in the mediocre Eastern conference.
With the signing of Troy Brouwer, it is possible pugilist Michael Haley sees even fewer games than last season, meaning you may have to find your specialist penalty minutes elsewhere.
Also keep an eye on Owen Tippett in camp. If he is impressing he could force his way onto the team, which would mean putting him onto a scoring line. The odd one out would then likely be Nick Bjugstad, who would be shifted to third line C/RW. The drop off from the top-six to the bottom-six on this team is substantial, so be ready to jump off the Bjug-boat if needed.
Buy: Oscar Klefbom
Cap Hit: $4,167,000 with five years remaining
Everyone focuses on the forwards in Edmonton, partially because of Connor McDavid, and partially just because we are used to the Oilers’ defence disappointing us. Now there are many forwards to check in on in Edmonton, such as Jesse Puljujarvi, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Kailer Yamamoto, etc. However, I would like to specifically highlight Klefbom.
The top puck-moving defenceman in Oiltown played most of last season with an injured shoulder, before being shut down with a handful of games to go. After a 38-point showing the season before, expectations were high for the third-year player. Now entering his “fourth” season (played 30 games in his rookie year), Klefbom is healthy and ready to anchor a powerplay beside the most skilled player on the planet. All of Kelfbom’s underlying numbers say that a positive regression is coming. Put that all together with a bargain contract, and we have one of the best buys of the summer.
Sell: Adam Larsson
Cap Hit: $4,166,666 with three years remaining
It’s tough to find a good sell on a team where so much went wrong last season. If your league doesn’t count hits, you can disregard this following paragraph
Adam Larsson at least managed to be leading the league in hits when he went down with a season ending injury. If it wasn’t for that injury, he likely would have run away with the title. In most leagues counting hits, the managers know you’re best off getting a large percentage of them from your defence, so you can focus on amassing a good group of scoring forwards. As a result, Larsson may actually attract some interest on the trade market. If you can sell on that, you can easily replace his stats with a much cheaper option like Stephen Johns, Patrik Nemeth, and many others.
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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