Ramblings: Marner Cap Situation, Ekman-Larsson, B. Tkachuk (Aug 5)

by Ian Gooding on August 5, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Marner Cap Situation, Ekman-Larsson, B. Tkachuk (Aug 5)


Hey, it’s Ian again, filling in for Dobber, who needs some time to decompress after pumping out another Fantasy Guide.

Speaking of which, if you’ve already bought it, then this is old news. If not, then you need to know that the 2019-20 Dobber Hockey Fantasy Guide is now available! Inside you’ll find the usual projections for each player by team, plus sleeper picks, draft review and Calder nominees, advanced stats, breakdown of the 2019-20 schedule, and more! As well, I should mention that the Fantasy Guide is updated as more signings, trades, injuries, and other events affect player projections. Don’t be the one who purchases it an hour before your draft, because you won’t get your money’s worth with all the content in there. Get it today and spend at least some of your valuable summer holiday studying for your draft!

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Pete Blackburn from CBS Sports (via Cap Friendly) broke down the cap situation for the Leafs following the David Clarkson trade in an easy-to-follow way. I know the trade happened over a week ago, but I wanted to bring it up to explain the scenarios in which Mitch Marner can be signed. I mentioned yesterday that the Leafs need to create more cap space to sign Marner. There were a couple of responses on Facebook that seemed to imply that the Leafs only need to move Clarkson and Nathan Horton to LTIR and that’s it. That might be generally true, but my larger point was that Marner (and other big-name RFAs) probably won’t be signed anytime soon, which could affect fantasy drafts if this carries all the way to training camp. To put it another way, a Marner contract could be expedited if the Leafs find a way to move more salary.

One option would be for the Leafs to go as high as a cap hit of $92,050,000, then move Horton and Clarkson to LTIR to cover the $10.55 million overage on the league’s salary cap. This would give them $9.815 million in cap space for Marner. Personally, I think it’s going to take $10 million to sign Marner. Maybe I’m wrong and Marner takes one for the team and signs at no more than $9.8 million and everyone lives happily ever after in Leafland. If not, the Leafs will need to find a way to move more cap space if they want to sign Marner before the season.

A second option would be for the Leafs to wait until the start of the season to move Clarkson and Horton to LTIR, then sign Marner. Once they are moved, then the Leafs have $10.55 million to potentially sign Marner, which would give them a bit more breathing room (and give Marner his $10 mil if that’s what he so desires). In order for that scenario to work, the Leafs could not be anywhere above the $81.5 million ceiling and would thus need to shed another $800,000. I think that’s what’s going to happen here. If it does, then I wonder how far behind the 8-ball that Marner will be to start the season without a training camp. The signing could potentially be on Day 2 of the season, so the effect of a slow start wouldn’t be as significant as it was for William Nylander.

I’ll admit that trying to figure out the finer details of the cap isn’t easy, which is why I generally try to stay away from it in the Ramblings and focus more on the fantasy side of hockey, which is more of my area of expertise and why I write here. This is a fairly dead period, so it does give me a chance to examine things in more detail that I normally wouldn’t be inclined to. From what I’m reading, though, it sounds like the Marner situation is going to drag on a while longer.

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In yesterday’s Ramblings, I wrote about a blueliner whose numbers have been all over the map throughout his four NHL seasons. Today it’s a blueliner that has settled into the 39-44-point range over the past three seasons after a 55-point career season in 2015-16.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson has been a player of interest in multicategory leagues for many years. He’s reached 40 points in five of his past six seasons (the other season was “just” 39 points) while contributing his share in shots on goal, power-play points, and hits. His only downside has been plus/minus, which has been negative for the past six seasons and double-digit negative for the past three seasons.

There are the arguments that Ekman-Larsson should be considered a bubble keeper, especially if your league counts plus-minus and 40 points is the line as far as owning a defenseman goes. Sometimes you need consistency, especially if you’re planning to draft another defenseman (maybe Ghost or a younger one with significant upside) whose floor could be relatively low or is an unknown as far as receiving first-unit power-play time.

Over the past three seasons, OEL’s power-play production has remained in the 15-20 power-play-point range after the three previous seasons when it ranged between 20-30 power-play points. However, there are signs that the power-play production could increase above the 20 PPP mark. Over the past three seasons, the Coyotes have the lowest power-play conversion rate (16.4%) of all 31 teams.

However, this power play will be adding Phil Kessel, who has recorded at least 30 power-play points in each of the past three seasons (the question being does Kessel moving to Arizona hurt his power-play numbers more than Kessel helps Arizona’s power-play numbers). In addition, Nick Schmaltz has played just 17 games as a Coyote, with seven of his 14 points coming with the man advantage. The Coyotes’ power play has nowhere to go but up, and Ekman’s power-play numbers could benefit.

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The Ottawa Senators are the odds-on favorite to finish with the league’s worst record. One look at their roster and you’ll see why. As far as useful immediate fantasy options in run-of-the-mill (not deep) leagues, it’s going to be Thomas Chabot and Brady Tkachuk and really not much else.

The barren roster that is the Senators could affect the younger Tkachuk’s production overall, although Tkachuk didn’t seem to be affected once regular linemate Mark Stone was traded to Vegas. After the point that Stone was no longer playing for the Senators (which was the point in which the Sens rested him in anticipation of a trade), Tkachuk assembled nine goals and 15 points in 21 games. Before the trade, Tkachuk had scored 30 points (13g-17a) in 50 games. So Tkachuk should be a solid player in his own right.

Tkachuk’s main linemate all season was Colin White, who also projects to be the Sens’ top center. The 19-year-old Tkachuk and the 22-year-old White will likely be thrust into top-line minutes and first-unit power-play time, whether they are ready for them or not. They could play additional minutes that they normally wouldn’t, which will boost their production. However, the linemates around them and the fact that opponents’ top defensive units will likely be facing the youngsters could also force their production down. Don’t forget about the hit in plus/minus that both will probably see, given the team they play for (which matters if your league counts plus/minus).

It’s probably best to temper expectations for Tkachuk this season to something that isn’t much higher than his 45 points from his rookie season, although there’s a good chance he will build on his rookie season anyway. As the Senators begin to construct a roster with young prospects with significant upside, Tkachuk could certainly break out in a big way.

On a side note, Tkachuk’s value improves in leagues that count hits and/or penalty minutes. He is a Tkachuk, and he did record 75 penalty minutes and 174 hits in his rookie season.

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For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.