Capped: The Cap League Awards

by Alexander MacLean on March 29, 2018
  • Capped
  • Capped: The Cap League Awards

This week's Capped awards the standard hardware to the deserving winners in cap leagues this season.

You won’t find Rinne in our Vezina consideration, you won’t find Stamkos or Crosby in any of these ballots either. That’s because we’re awarding the standard NHL hardware to those most underpaid for what they bring to the table. These players are your cap league stars.

*I will preface this article by saying that save for the Calder Trophy, players on entry level contracts are excluded, as it takes away from the fun. We don’t want Connor McDavid winning the Hart, Norris and Vezina!
 

The Hart Memorial Trophy:

William Karlsson (C)  –  Vegas Golden Knights

Cap Hit – $1,000,000    RFA as of July 1st, 2018

Karlsson has been affectionately coined as “Wild Bill” this season, but the only thing wild about his play has been his scoring race. After posting a career high 25 points the season in the first year of his contract, he is on pace to triple that, alongside 40+ goals. His cost/point is second overall in the NHL*, and his cost/goal is first. If you happened to luck into Karlsson this year, he has been your most valuable asset, without question. As a result, he wins the MVP award.

Sometimes you just don’t see these coming, but the fourth-year breakout is a very real thing. Just a little note to keep in mind for drafts next season.

Honourable mentions:

Nikita Kucherov – In an extremely tight race for the league lead in points. GM Steve Yzerman pulled a ridiculous magic trick getting Kucherov signed for less than $5 million when he did.

Jonathan Marchessault – Riding shotgun with Karlsson, and being paid three-quarters of the amount. Only beaten out because goals are tougher to come by than assists.

Yanni Gourde – Technically a rookie, but not on an entry-level deal. Has surpassed even his mother’s expectations as a solid depth player on the Lightning.

Jason Zucker – One point shy of 60 points as part of an underrated Minnesota forward group.
 

The Norris Trophy:

John Carlson (D)  –  Washington Capitals

Cap Hit – $3,966,667    UFA as of July 1st, 2018

Another upcoming free agent this summer, Carlson has put together a career year, and has an outside shot at 70 points. His value takes a hit if he is not manning a powerplay with Alex Ovechkin come the fall, but he has made the most of this past season, to the extent of being this year’s cap league Norris winner. Carlson has also been solid on the defensive side of the puck, playing almost 25 minutes a night, registering 130+ blocks, and a near-even plus/minus rating.

Owners of his are dreading his new contract, likely pricing him out of value range in many leagues. There are only so many defencemen left that can provide this kind of value under $4 million.

Honourable mentions:

Roman Josi – One of the best fantasy bargains for years, and he is still going. Three more years left on his contract, and could be in the discussion for an actual Norris trophy, let alone a cap league one.

Seth Jones – The youngest player on this list, and also the priciest. Deserving of the nomination, and may have had an even better case if not for a recent injury.

Colin Miller – Another Golden Knight. Similar to Wild Bill, Miller is providing much more all-around value at $1 million than anyone was expecting.

John Klingberg – Coach Ken Hitchcock may not be the best fit for the offensive-minded Stars defenceman, however Klingberg just keeps producing.


The Vezina Trophy:

Connor Hellebuyck (G)  –  Winnipeg Jets

Cap Hit – $2,250,000    UFA as of July 1st, 2018

Hellebuyck was supposed to be relegated to the backup role this season, to continue to be brought along slowly, taking over the starter’s job in a couple years when Steve Mason’s contract ran out. Needless to say, that didn’t go according to plan; and Winnipegians (Winnipeggers? Winnipish? The Winnipese? – help me out here) couldn’t be happier about it. Helle has bounced back after hitting a bit of a plateau last season, and is in the running for a real Vezina nomination this year. He has led the Jets to the first 100-point season in franchise history, starting 62 games through Tuesday night. There have been many solid goalies this season, but none have topped Hellebuyck’s fantasy value when the contract is taken into account.

Hellebuyck looks like a genius taking the one-year bridge deal, and is going to get paid handsomely. It is a little less common amongst goalies to try a bridge deal, but Hellebuyck’s fate may lead to more netminders opting for this contractual route in the future.

Honourable mentions:

John Gibson – Boasts the highest save percentage of all the nominees (0.926), but his 30 wins hurt his case a little compared to Helle’s 40.

Devan Dubnyk – At this point in his career, extremely reliable, and the elder statesman of the group. Tough for him to push through for the top prize due to his more-mature contract.

Andrei Vasilevskiy – Tapered off of late due to a little fatigue, but his overall numbers are still excellent. Will be back in contention here the next two seasons barring injury.


The Calder Memorial Trophy:

Matthew Barzal (C)  –  New York Islanders

Cap Hit – $863,333    RFA as of July 1st, 2020

There wasn’t much doubt on this one, seeing as Barzal could finish as the first rookie with over a point-per-game since Evgeni Malkin in 2006-2007 (minimum 50 games). He has done so while carrying his own line, not playing with superstar John Tavares at even strength. There isn’t a lot of peripheral value to be found with Barzal, but if this is his rookie year, look out for years two and three on that rookie deal. Add on the possibility of Tavares leaving in the summer, freeing up top line ice time for Barzal, and he may still have room to see his numbers grow.

Honourable mentions:

Clayton Keller – One of the few flecks of gold in a desert of sand, Keller has shaken off a mid-season slump to close out the year on a strong note.

Brock Boeser – If not for his broken back (due to carrying the Canucks), Boeser would be right up there with Barzal in terms of merit for this award.

Charlie McAvoy – As a defenseman, putting up the numbers he has is very impressive. Take into account his heavy deployment, and we are looking at a potential future Norris winner.

Alex DeBrincat – Sheltered behind Chicago’s overpaid dynamic duo, the Blackhawks needed some cheap production to step up, and DeBrincat’s numbers are decent in between cold streaks.


The Frank J. Selke Trophy:

Vincent Trocheck (C)  –  Florida Panthers

Cap Hit – $4,750,000    UFA as of July 1st, 2022

This is a tough one to award for a fantasy league, so we’re going with a bargain, all-around contributor, who we know is solid on the defensive side of the game. Trocheck may be the number two centre on the Panthers, but he is the number one reason a lot of cap league teams have overachieved this season. Thus far, he has totaled 69 points, 25 of the powerplay variety, 130 hits, 745 faceoff wins, 50 blocks, and three shorthanded points. All of this while averaging 21:20 per game, and starting 43% of his shifts in the defensive zone.

Trocheck doesn’t have any big underlying percentage outliers boosting his numbers either. He will continue to be a multi-category stud for the last four years of this contract.

Honourable mentions:

Sean Couturier – Excellent breakout season for the Flyers, playing alongside Claude Giroux for a large portion of the season. May well win the real Selke Trophy.

Patrice Bergeron – Winner of multiple previous Selke trophies, Bergeron has put together another stellar season. Unfortunately, he missed the last month with an injury, and is less of a bargain than Trocheck due to his $6.75 million cap hit.

Aleksander Barkov – Trocheck’s teammate is the league leader on the penalty kill with five short-handed goals, and showed everyone he can be a point per game player over a healthy season. Also leads the NHL in time on ice by a forward with 22:13 per game, while starting only 40% of his shifts in the offensive zone. Could have won if not for the salary difference.

Colton Sissons – On a league minimum deal, playing fourth line minutes, and starting <35% of his shifts in the offensive zone, Sissons has still managed to pot 30 points, while chipping in over 100 hits, a good plus/minus rating, and over 300 faceoff wins.


The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:

Teuvo Teravainen (LW)  –  Carolina Hurricanes

Cap Hit – $2,860,000    RFA as of July 1st, 2019

This is a glorified trophy for those that are great owns in points-only leagues, but as soon as you start adding other categories like hits, blocks, or PIMs, they lose a large chunk of their value. Teravainen fits the bill wonderfully, entering Tuesday night with 14 penalty minutes, 24 hits, and 20 blocks. However, his 61 points through 76 games gives him value in almost all cap leagues because of his bridge contract. His next deal likely won’t be so nice to cap owners, though Teravainen will likely continue to be Mr. Nice Guy on the ice.

Honourable mentions:

John Tavares – In the last year of his $5.5 million AAV contract, Tavares has 78 points in 77 games, with 26 PIMs and 29 hits.

Aleksander Barkov – His strengths were mentioned above in the Selke section, but he doesn’t add much in the peripherals; 14 PIMs and 28 hits this season to be exact.

Mark Scheifele – Missing 20 games this season has reduced his peripherals, but 12 PIMs, 110 shots and 50 hits are still low for a first line centre playing over 20 minutes a night. His pace of over a point per game and great contract put him in this conversation.

William Karlsson – Probably should have won this Lady Byng, but he already got a better award so we’re spreading the love. Only 12 penalty minutes on the season to go with 41 hits.


I hope you enjoyed this little exercise. Feel free to comment your agreement below (or more likely your disagreement).

That caps off another Thursday, and thanks for reading. To those of you still fighting for a fantasy championship, best of luck!

You can find me on twitter @alexdmaclean