This week's Capped discusses the All-Star producers so far this season in Cap leagues.
With the All-Star game having come and gone, it seems like a good time to be looking into who the Salary-Cap league All-Stars have been to this point in the season. We will be discounting entry-level deals in order to find who is truly outperforming their contracts. Also touched on will be how this affects their value moving forward, and who is expected to keep up the production versus regressing. All numbers used will be those from the season up to All-Star weekend.
Cam Atkinson (RW) – Columbus Blue Jackets
Contract – $3,500,000
Cost per point – $76,087 (46 points)
Cam Atkinson has finally broken out, and unless you have been a fantasy GM living under a proverbial rock, you are already aware of this. He was deservedly selected as Evgeni Malkin’s replacement for the NHL All-Star game, but he shouldn’t have had to be a replacement in the first place. After years of showing flashes, in his sixth season he is finally producing as was advertised years ago. He is doing so while shooting 17.1% on the season. Over the last few seasons, he has shot around 10%, so a step back is expected. Generally Atkinson should keep chugging along for the rest of the season.
There is also still some room to grow offensively. Atkinson this season has started only 43% of his shifts in the offensive zone. If that number gets anywhere above 50% then he should be able to convert that into more shots, therefore more scoring chances and more points. Atkinson’s three-year contract of $3.5 Million is showing that his choice to go the bridge-deal route was a good one. With the underlying numbers showing that he could keep up his production, this next season and a half of production from him will be extremely valuable. Looking past that though, we will likely see him ink a very lucrative deal more befitting of his production, taking him out of the bargain range.
Mikael Granlund (LW) – Minnesota Wild
Contract – $3,000,000
Cost per point – $71,429 (42 points)
Eric Staal is just as deserving for this position based on his season thus far, but he has been bested by his teammate Mikael Granlund. Granlund has taken off this season playing wing. It seems as though having shed some of his defensive responsibility has allowed him to really explode in the offensive zone. What is ever stranger is how little spotlight he is receiving for his big season. His next contract though will soon be in the spotlight, and with it, he will be expected to keep up this production.
Three things are working against Granlund and his future value to your fantasy team. The first of which is the fact that his contract expires this off-season. Granlund may be looking to cash in, but it is possible that he signs one more short deal to really prove what he can do. The second reason to be cautious with Granlund is that a shift back to centre is likely coming as soon as one of the incumbents (Mikko Koivu and the aforementioned Staal) moves on. Koivu’s contract expires after next season so he was the best bet.
The last point to be made is that Granlund’s luck metrics are all high. Those points all indicate that it would be a good ideal to sell him at his peak right now.
Nikita Kucherov (RW) – Tampa Bay Lightning
Contract – $4,766,667
Cost per point – $108,333 (44 points)
The Tampa Bay Lightning seem to be stuck in the middle of quite a few things. Are they a playoff team, is Ben Bishop leaving at the deadline or in the offseason, and is this team led by captain Steven Stamkos from the sidelines or Nikita Kucherov from the front lines?
No matter what that case may be, it is unquestionable that General Manager Steve Yzerman has a bargain of a contract on his hands with Kucherov locked up for two seasons past this one at a miniscule value of under $5 Million per year. Kucherov is also likely an even better fantasy value than real life value. Yes Kucherov’s next contract will probably be a massive one in the range of what Steven Stamkos received on his most recent deal. However, until then he will be one of the biggest bargains in salary cap leagues, and those kinds of talents you just can’t sell. Ride him out and win a few championships while he is still on his bargain contract.
Brent Burns (D) – San Jose Sharks
Contract – $5,760,000
Cost per point – $112,941 (51 points)
Yes we all know that Brent Burns is a beast, literally with his looks and figuratively for fantasy hockey purposes. But it is easy to say he is good and leave it at that. Brent Burns could be the most valuable player in almost any league setup this year. His biggest contribution is in leagues where peripheral categories such as shots (currently leading the league), hits and blocks are counted. On top of that, if there are bonus points for defencemen then it’s not even close.
On second thought, it’s not even close to begin with. Burns and his salary is easily the best top-end defence bargain in the league right now. He has 12 more points than his next closest competition in Erik Karlsson. The mystery of next year has also been solved, and we know he is getting a big raise. Enjoy his production this season, and find a way to fit him in next season. He will be more expensive then, but he will still be a fantasy beast.
Justin Schultz (D) – Minnesota Wild
Contract – $1,400,000
Cost per point – $40,000 (35 points)
I know, I know, he was just covered two weeks ago. That may be true, but he is also being paid pennies in comparison to how well he is producing. Filling in for Kris Letang (injured again), Schultz is producing the kind of points that a puck-moving defenceman should while playing with the talented crop of Penguins forwards. Feel free to check out the article from two weeks ago for my thoughts on him from then.
Moving forward though, there have been a few questions about him over on the forums and on twitter about whether he will be able to keep this up to close out the season, and more importantly next season. There is a worry that Schultz would regress if the Las Vegas Knights selected him. The question is moot though. There is next to no chance that Pittsburgh lets Schultz go, least of all to Las Vegas. Pittsburgh will have the money to sign Schultz, and after how well he has produced, there is no reason they wouldn’t want him back. If for whatever reason Pittsburgh deems Schultz replaceable, there would be many suitors for his services via a trade, such as Colorado, Vancouver, Tampa Bay and Detroit. Fear not Justin Schultz owners, he should be setting up Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for a few years yet.
Find me on twitter: @alexdmaclean
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