Pay the Man

by Chris Liggio on November 24, 2017

Not sure about everyone else out there in fantasy land but going into my drafts each season I certainly look to target at least a couple of players entering into the final year of their respective contracts. This has been a tested and proven strategy for me over time as players in this situation are looking to be paid handsomely for their services which usually equates to stellar play in said final contract year. Today let’s look at a few currently in this boat and see what they are setting themselves up for in the coming summer.


Rick Nash


There is no use denying the fact anymore that Ranger Rick is past his offensive prime. As of late Nash has been a serviceable asset though with four goals and two assists in the past six games played. On top of this he also provided 16 shots in this time frame which is where his real bread and butter fantasy value has been so far. With 72 shots in 22 games played, Nash is providing ample shots and you certainly need to take them to score. With seven goals Nash has the capability of ascertaining the 25-goal plateau. Although he is not the dominant power forward he once was there’s real value in a goal-scorer on any roster. Give credit to Nash despite his gradual decline in becoming a truly complete player. Currently Nash is rocking a PDO of 996 now trending towards the norm for him and more striking is his low 7.19% even strength shooting. Statistical regression towards the mean is certainly in store for him so a goal scoring tear is likely coming soon. The fact that he is receiving 55% of his shifts starting in the offensive zone can only help this.


When the time comes to sign his next and potentially last contract, Nash will be 34 years old and in line for a pay cut. Whether it be the Rangers or another squad if Nash can hit the 25-goal mark he will earn himself a reasonable contract with term. His ability to chip in offense coupled with his stellar defensive play and pedigree will make him an attractive asset for many general managers.


John Carlson


Finally, the real John Carlson has returned. After his 55-point outburst in 2014-15, the past two seasons to the current campaign were underwhelming. Plagued by injuries he never put together a complete season in either 2015-16/2016-17. We have seen a resurgent Carlson free of injury woes return to his dominant self. Of key importance this time around is his return to the primary power play unit now that Kevin Shattenkirk has departed for New York. With 18 points in 23 games played to this point Carlson might one day find his jersey accidentally sewn with “Karlsson” on the back. Though owners would like to see a few more goals as he only has two to this point, his current overall shooting percentage sits at a whopping three. That’s the lowest it’s been since 2013-14 so expect correction to come soon.


Carlson now receives an eye popping four plus minutes of power play time on average each game. On a unit with Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom he is bound to start tickling twine more often. In the meantime, enjoy his steady assist/power play production. Carlson is smack dab in the middle of his prime turning 28 in mid-January. Should he continue to produce a 45-point season or more this man is going to receive a hefty contract whether it be in the District of Columbia or elsewhere. His age coupled with the fact that he’s a right-handed shot and can play huge minutes will make him arguably the most sought-after asset in free agency.


James van Riemsdyk


The underappreciation of James van Riemsdyk truly kills me. He’s consistently a 30 goal/30 assist threat in the peak of his prime and he gets looked over every time for the shiny new toys Toronto has to offer. And once again van Riemsdyk is well on his way to a 30-plus goal season with 200 plus shots and all everyone wants to talk about is Auston Matthews. At his current pace he could reach the 40-goal plateau for the first time. Don’t worry van Riemsdyk, I will always be here to give you the credit you rightfully deserve. It is all but guaranteed he will sign elsewhere in the offseason as the Leafs will have some serious issues in the coming years trying to sign all their younger talent to deals once their rookie contracts cease.


Statistically nothing stands out as a severe red flag besides his shooting percentage which currently sits at 15.9%. He’s averaged in the vicinity of 11% in the past few seasons so expect some regression as far as goal scoring but thirty plus goals is seemingly a lock for van Riemsdyk. When free agency rolls around van Riemsdyk will be 29 and looking for his big payday with term whilst in his prime years. He is certainly going to be paid handsomely by someone looking to inject offense into their top six immediately. Montreal, you best be barking up his tree from minute one on July 1st.




Mike Green


The fact that Mike Green is currently matching production with Erik Karlsson is telling of his impending free agent status. Although his 70-point days are long gone this is still a defender that routinely puts up 35-point seasons and in today’s game he will still see many suitors come the summer as like John Carlson he is right handed and still relatively young. As stated, in the past two campaigns Green has posted 35 points back-to-back and is on pace to blow that total out of the water. Green’s shots have absolutely fallen off a cliff since the last time he ever posted 70-plus points, but his healthy offensive zone deployment gives him every opportunity to keep pumping out the assists. Any general manager salivating over him should be aware that 11 of his current 16 assists have come over the course of four games therefore Green falls in the feast or famine arena. Nonetheless come season’s end if he has above 40 points regardless of the way in which he got there a team is going to come calling.


Green’s current deployment on power play unit two is not to be feared as he still gains exposure to offensive threats in Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha. Mantha looks to be a dynamo goal scorer in the making so keep feeding him and the assists will come. Green currently rocks a solid 1033 PDO and a CF% of exactly 50 with a plus-six rating. On paper he is looking like quite an asset for the Red Wings so far, perhaps this will be his first full season in recent memory. At 32 years of age Green is still young enough that management from any team shouldn’t be too hesitant to give him term the likes of four or five years but if they’re smart the price point per season will be less than the current six million he is making this year as his game declines with age.


David Perron


Perron is currently on pace for 78 points by season’s end. Let that sink in for a second.  In the early going Perron has been a force for the Golden Knights and if the Blues weren’t playing so well they might actually hate themselves for not protecting him in the expansion draft. Perron is white hot right now with 11 points in his past eight games played. Alongside this he has also provided 22 hits. Those of you who drafted or picked him up in multi-cat leagues have seen him become one of your most important assets so far in 2017-18. Unlike expansion teams of past the Golden Knights possess respectable talent right off the bat. Luckily for them this compiled talent has found chemistry quickly and Perron is an integral part of the top six. Though his shooting percentage is riding a little high for his average over recent years it is not entirely out of question to sustain. Puck luck has certainly been in his favor sporting a PDO of 1028 which speaks counterintuitively to his 46.84 CF%. Nonetheless things are going Perron’s way so sit back and enjoy the ride. Be warned though if the offense dries up don’t be shocked as this is a pace he has never produced at before. Hope for a repeat of 2013-14 stats (28 G, 29 A) if not better. Should he ascertain those totals at the least Perron should be a sure bet for an extension with Las Vegas as he is only 29 years old. And if not Vegas he will certainly be pursued elsewhere and receive term.


Michael Grabner


The most interesting case if you ask me is impending UFA Michael Grabner. His run with the Rangers has been a smash hit providing 36 goals in 98 games in Rangers blue. Grabner’s propensity for goal scoring is most impressive considering the ice time he receives in New York. Last season he averaged 14:06 a game and buried the biscuit 27 times, this year he has nine in 22 outings and is averaging almost a full minute less per game. Grabner might be the one player in the world who rewards you more when you give him less.


In the final year of his contract Grabner is certainly looking to show ownership around the league that his goal scoring ways of 2016-17 was no fluke. Grabner is ever the opportunist with his elite speed and acceleration that separates him immediately from defensive opposition leading to breakaways often. Now 30 some might fear his advancing age but if you’ve ever seen Grabner in person he is an imposing physical specimen so any worries of his fleet feet leaving him are hogwash. Known for being a stone handed player in the past such has not been the case whilst in New York where he has routinely finished with finesse on his opportunities. He’s no Patrick Kane in the dangles department but he finds a way to hit the twine with regularity. Though I am not Rangers management I feel it would be hard for them to let him walk this summer given what he has provided. In reality, this goal scoring has been an immense bonus for a guy brought on for his prowess in the penalty killing department. Though I cannot see any team giving him immense length in his next contract a 2-4 -year term is certainly not out of question. Whether or not he remains in New York will tell us if they believe he is the real deal.