This week's Capped discusses the rising cost of peripheral categories.
Last week, Cal Clutterbuck re-signed with the New York Islanders. His new contract is worth an average of $3.5 Million a season over the next five years, taking him to the ripe age of 35. This deal is par for the course with what we have seen from some of the career grinders. Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas are two other examples of career third/fourth line forwards that are getting larger deals than the average depth forward because of the role they fill.
Unfortunately, this rise in the cost of the grinders is putting a strain on cap league owners, as the peripheral categories that used to be so inexpensive to accumulate are now becoming harder to fill without sacrificing scoring. Let someone else try to fit the contracts of Martin, Cizikas and Clutterbuck, and instead let’s take a look at some of the cheaper options to fill the categories like hits, blocks and penalty minutes.
Nick Ritchie (LW) – Anaheim Ducks
Contract – $894,167 (Entry Level Contract – Expires July 1st 2018)
Ritchie jumped out to a great multi-category start to the season filling in on the top line for Rakard Rakell. With Rakell back in the lineup now, Ritchie has been pushed down to the third line, but that wasn’t before he showed us a glimpse of the player he could turn out to be. He is on pace to crush 200 hits on the season, as well as holding his own on the score-sheet, with 11 points in 27 games. At 21 years of age, there is much more room to grow. If he can push himself into a permanent role in the top-six in Anaheim (that may end up losing Jakob Silferberg or another like forward to expansion), then Ritchie could turn out to be one of the better contributors in the hits category moving forward.
Ryan White (RW) – Arizona Coyotes
Contract – $1,000,000 (Expires July 1st 2017)
The 28-year-old right-winger is currently playing out the one year of his only contract thus far that has reached seven digits. He has consistently been a bargain player for depth categories as long as he is in the lineup (and he has only missed one game so far this year). Currently Ryan White is second in the league in penalty minutes and ninth overall in hits. He doesn’t produce much other than that, so it is tough to roster him in shallower leagues. However, if the league is deep enough, then having White help you win two categories a week is certainly worth a roster spot. White also has some underlying stats that show he has been “unlucky”. Don’t get too excited about a possible uptick in points though, as a fourth line grinder, playing 10 minutes a game with other fourth line grinders isn’t a recipe for goals, no matter what the underlying numbers say.
Adam Lowry (LW) – Winnipeg Jets
Contract – $1,125,000 (Expires July 1st 2018)
Not only is Adam Lowry in the top 15 for hits so far this year (with 80), but he also has six goals, 19 penalty minutes, 246 faceoff wins and 21 blocks. If that’s not cross category contribution then I don’t know what is. Of the players with 80+ hits on the season, Lowry is one of three players with over five goals, and is the only one with over 150 faceoff wins. At just over $1 Million per season, Lowry is a bargain, especially in leagues that count faceoff wins. In addition, there is the bonus of him winning them from the wing position, which is a huge boost in that category. At age 23 there is still lots of room to grow for this young forward, and if he can come into his own offensively over the next few years, then he will make an excellent compliment to all of the skill Winnipeg currently has up front.
Stephen Johns (D) – Dallas Stars
Contract – $725,000 (Entry Level Contract – Expires July 1st 2018)
A favourite of many GMs over on the forums already, Stephen Johns is still flying a little under the radar due to his small career sample size. Had he played every game so far this season, he would be on pace for over 200 hits, and over 100 blocks. From a 24-year-old defenceman who is still adjusting to the professional game, there is a lot to like. Last season, only eight defencemen finished with over 200 hits, and of those, only two of them finished with more than the 138 blocks that Johns is on pace for so far this season. With John Klingberg, Esa Lindell and Julias Honka in the system, it is unlikely Johns will ever see much of an offensive role for the Stars. As a steady second pair defenceman, he has the opportunity to grow into one of the better tough defencemen in the league. His next contract also likely won’t be a large, long-term deal, so there are still likely a handful of years of production to be had at a cheap rate.
Finding the next wave of talent is always the toughest part about keeper leagues, and especially when looking at the depth categories. There can be such a fine line for those players between a 15-year career on a third line, and a 15 game career before they leave and play in Europe for their careers. Hopefully this adds a few more names to your watch lists when diving for some depth category bargains.
Thanks for reading, and comments are always welcome!
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