This week's Capped covers some thoughts on defencemen for the trade deadline.
It is surprising that there has been so little NHL action over the last few weeks, and it could make for a very intriguing last few days before the trade deadline on February 26th. As it stands, the market is flooded with wingers, and there are goalies available if you know where to look (hear that Philadelphia and Calgary?). However as always, defencemen seem to be a tough commodity to come by. Let’s explore a few options for your team to kick the tires on before the deadline.
Colin Miller (C/LW) – Vegas Golden Knights
Cap Hit: $1,000,000 – RFA as of July 1st, 2018
Miller has not slowed down all season, just like the rest of his team. We are past the point where he would come at a discount in a trade, but at his price-tag, he is still a worthwhile addition to any fantasy team. Miller doesn’t come with the big name value that you will find with some other players around the same price range, such as Ryan Pulock, Mikael Sergachev, and teammate Shea Theodore, so he may be worth a touch less to the opposing owner in a trade. The Vegas defenceman is also only 25 himself, and shouldn’t break the bank with his new deal for next season.
There aren’t many better bargains in points leagues, plus in multi-category leagues, Miller has proven reliable at racking up solid shots, hits and power-play point totals. There won’t be many cheaper power play quarterback options on the market, so even if the trade price is a little higher for Miller, if you’re making a push for a championship, he has the upside to pay big dividends.
The Expensive One
Erik Karlsson (D) – Ottawa Senators
Cap Hit: $6,500,000 – UFA as of July 1st, 2019
The star defenceman for the Senators has looked human this season, on pace for (only) 55 points and 200 shots. Unfortunately, his plus / minus has also cratered, and currently sits at -26. Ottawa is looking towards next year at this point, and reportedly listening to offers on their top scoring winger, Mike Hoffman. As a result, Erik Karlsson’s upside may be a bit more limited than other years.
On the flip side, we all know he is the premier defenceman to own in fantasy, and provides excellent value on his current deal. If his owner is not competing now, you may be able to pry him away for less than full market value due to the impending $11+ million deal. If he is on a contender (and assuming your team is as well), he is still worth checking in on for the same reason. With the departure of Dion Phaneuf, Karlsson minutes could be on the rise as well. For a defenceman that can score at more than a point-per-game pace, there shouldn’t need to be more discussion about why you need to kick the tires on him now.
Mike Green (D) – Detroit Red Wings
Cap Hit: $6,000,000 – UFA July 1st, 2018
New Projected Cap Hit: $4,447,000
Green is a big gamble at this time of year, both for an NHL team, and for your fantasy team. Green starts well most seasons, and then tapers off in the second half. He has two points in his last nine games, and they were both in one game against the Islanders (does that even count?). Anyways, his slow scoring rate means that he doesn’t have any fantasy value at the moment. On a $6 million deal, that means he is sitting on the waiver wire in most cap leagues.
However, being a pending UFA, Green is likely going to be traded, getting a fresh start elsewhere. His new team will likely have a spot on the power play for him, and enough defensive depth to cover the tougher assignments. At that point, he really becomes a wildcard in terms of what he can do for an NHL team (and your fantasy team) over the last quarter of the season. If you miss out on the better options on D, then you could do worse than Green.
The other factor to consider with the 32-year-old defenceman, is what comes next. Green is due for a new contract, but will he be paid based on what he could do, or what he has done over the last few years. The projection model has him at around $4.5 million per season, which makes him palatable in some settings, but definitely not a bargain. If you’re trading for him now, don’t do it based on the notion that you may keep him past the off-season.
The (Thus-Far) Disappointment
Oscar Klefbom (D) – Edmonton Oilers
Cap Hit: $4,167,000 – UFA in July of 2023
Last year Edmonton had the worst H2H playoff schedule, and for that reason, there still seems to be a bit of a remaining stigma in the back of my mind. The fact the Oilers sit with the third worst record in the Western conference also doesn’t do much to help the perception of the team. This means two things. First, the team can’t get any worse. Second, every player on the Oilers should be able to be bought low (save McDavid).
Edmonton is scoring at a higher clip since the beginning of February, about 3.5 goals per game, as opposed to the 2.85 they have averaged on the season as a whole. Their power play is also looking up, and they have nothing else to lose at this point. Klefbom in particular has looked better of late, notching three assists in his last five games – two of them on the powerplay. His ice time is up as well, having played more games over the 25 minute mark this calendar year than under it. With the amount he shoots, and the floodgates in Edmonton looking ready to burst (if they haven’t started already), now is the cheapest you will be able to buy Klefbom, with his good value contract for the future too. Whether for Roto, H2H or straight points leagues, the Oiler’s puck-mover projects as a bargain for the rest of the year*.
*Elliotte Fiedman mentioned that Klefbom may have some kind of nagging injury, so keep your eye out on that as well. If that’s the case, then we can’t expect a bounce back until next year.
That caps off another Thursday. Let me know in the comments who you’re targeting, and why. Stay tuned for the goalies next week in the Capped column.
If you can’t just get your fill on Thursdays, you can find me on twitter any day of the week @alexdmaclean
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