Two years ago, Chris Pudsey took a walk through each NHL team, plucking one player that you should be trying to get onto your fantasy team, and one player you should be trying to get off of your fantasy team. For the doldrums of August, I thought this was a great topic to revive. We will be going through each NHL team alphabetically in six segments, starting with the first five this week. Without further adieu, here are the best value buys and sells from each team.
Buy: Patrick Eaves
Cap Hit: $3,150,000 with three years remaining
*Note: Patrick Eaves’ 2016-2017 stats have 59 games with the Dallas Stars.
Patrick Eaves joined the Ducks as a deadline acquisition last spring, and was a big part of their success in the last quarter of the season. Scoring 14 points in his 20 regular season games with the Ducks, and 12 points in his last 13 games once he was settled, Eaves really seemed to click with the Ducks’ system. He capped that off with a nice showing of four points in seven playoff games, where he fired 19 shots and added a few hits and penalty minutes for good measure.
Eaves’ showing in the later part of the season earned him his new three-year deal, in which at least the first two should be productive. At the age of 33, and with a $3.15 million salary, he should be a relatively inexpensive to acquire in your league. As long as the health is there, (and it often isn’t) Eaves provides a nice mix of points, shots and truculence stats to round out any kind of league format, while also chipping in some powerplay points for good measure.
Sell: Cam Fowler
Cap Hit: $4,000,000 with one year remaining before his eight-year extension at $6.5 million per year kicks in
A 40-point defenceman with more than two shots per game holds value in almost any setup. Add in the 100+ blocks and 20 powerplay points, and you have a very valuable defenceman. That being said, Fowler is still a sell. He has one year left of relevance before his large extension kicks in at $6.5 million per year. His production is also likely at its peak with many other defencemen in the system coming up and stealing away the easier offensive minutes. Vegas may have plucked Shea Theodore, but Brandon Montour and incumbent Sami Vatanen, among others, will be soaking up offensive zone starts and power-play minutes,. Time to sell before there is a decline in production, and an increase in cost.
Buy: Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Cap Hit: $5,500,000 with two years remaining
It is not every day that you can get a discount rate on a top 10 defenceman for both points-only and multi-category formats. Oliver Ekman-Larsson (OEL) checks all of the boxes (except for plus-minus) and with his down year behind him, seems primed and ready to jump back to his usual heights. Gone are potential threats to his offensive time in Anthony DeAngelo (traded) and Jacob Chychrun (knee surgery), so once again OEL is the leader of a young Coyotes team from the back-end.
With salaries mostly rising, it is the ones on the tail end of longer-term deals that now provide the most value. On a team with many emerging offensive threats, there may be no top defenceman than can be acquired for less in a trade right now than OEL. You are doing your fantasy squad a great disservice if you don’t at least inquire.
Sell: Derek Stepan
Cap Hit: $6,500,000 with four years remaining
*Note: Derek Stepan’s 2016-2017 stats are with the New York Rangers.
Stepan’s appearance here is more due to a change in role than it is due to his own talents. Stepan has the talent to put up 60 points, and it is possible that he does. However, after four straight seasons in the mid-50s, and a move down to Arizona where he will have to fill Martin Hanzal’s shoes as the defensively responsible pivot, there may be more holding Stepan back this season. Take away Stepan’s skilled linemates from New York as well, and there is a recipe for instead seeing a point total in the 40s this year rather than the 60s. That’s no good for a $6.5 million contract, even with the steady faceoff wins he provides.
Buy: Torey Krug
Cap Hit: $5,250,000 with three years remaining
Torey Krug may not have had the down season that OEL had above, but with three years left on his contract, and the potential to be reaching 60 points on a Boston powerplay that has realized they can score, there is a lot to like from the diminutive defenceman. Incoming rookie Charlie McAvoy may seem like a threat to Krug’s offensive minutes but Krug shoots left, and McAvoy shoots right, so if anything, the responsible, emerging youngster is a boon to the fantasy value rest of Krug, rather than a hindrance.
As long as David Pastrnak gets a new contract by the start of the season, then Boston’s top line should once again be loaded up on the first power play, wreaking havoc on opposing netminders, with Krug quarterbacking it all. The 51 points from this season is certainly not Krug’s peak, it may even be his floor.
Sell: Ryan Spooner
Cap Hit: $2,825,000 with one year remaining.
If the uncertainty this summer over Spooner’s new contract wasn’t enough to drive you away, then it will be by next summer. Spooner signed a one-year deal with Boston this offseason, but it didn’t satisfy either party, and barring a major injury to someone higher in the lineup, Spooner still won’t be getting prime offensive minutes. There is potential here, but much better production can be found elsewhere for less, and Spooner will only be looking for more money next summer.
Buy: Evander Kane
Cap Hit: $5,250,000 with one year remaining
This buy is more for those in multi-cat leagues, especially those counting shots, hits, and penalty minutes. Evander Kane is elite with those categories when he is healthy. He is also coming up to a new contract, so one of two things can happen for you. On one side of the coin, Kane could remain elite with the peripherals and, meshing well with teammate Jack Eichel, performs very well to build up his value for a new contract (my money is on this one). On the other side of the coin, Kane may get injured (as is common with him) or struggle to score this season, leading to a smaller new contract, becoming a great peripheral contributor at a bargain cost. Either way, it looks as though his value will be getting a boost at some point in the next year.
Sell: Robin Lehner
Cap Hit: $4,000,000 with one year remaining.
Band-aid-boy status does not look good on a goalie, and this is especially true for one who is likely on his last chance with the organization. Lehner was only given a one-year deal, and with the goaltending market as it is right now, there may be better replacements for Buffalo by next summer. There is also internal competition from the newly signed Chad Johnson, who gave Brian Elliott a run for the starter’s job last season.
As a fantasy owner, you want at least 50 starts from a goalie that is being paid $4 million or more. There is no guarantee Lehner hits that mark, even if he is healthy. This is all for a Buffalo Sabres team that has a patchwork defence core and is not projected to make the playoffs next season. Look elsewhere for your goalie stats.
Buy: Johnny Gaudreau
Cap Hit: $6,750,000 with five years remaining
It may be uncommon to see someone with a $6.75 million price tag being on a buy list in a salary cap league, however there are not many skaters like Johnny Gaudreau. The pint-sized forward had a down season, and still managed to score 61 points in 72 games. With some new help on the back end, as well as the continuing development of Calgary’s depth forwards, Gaudreau should be well insulated to push at the point-per-game mark once again. Finding point-per-game talent is tough at the best of times. Finding it with a price tag under $7 million is extremely difficult.
In multi-category leagues there is a lot less value to Gaudreau, but in points-only formats, his value is low enough to get a good bargain deal for next seasons production.
Sell: T.J. Brodie
Cap Hit: $4,650,400 with three years remaining.
Due to the new additions of Travis Hamonic and Michael Stone in Calgary, T.J. Brodie may find himself pushed all the way down to the third pairing. Only a year removed from two straight 40+ points seasons, Brodie’s value is still higher than it should be. Dougie Hamilton and Mark Giordano will soak up most of the available offence, leaving much less fantasy value for the expensive Brodie. At the very best, Brodie gets second pairing minutes and plays on the second power play, meaning that even the best-case scenario isn’t all that high.
Buy: Victor Rask
Cap Hit: $4,000,000 with five years remaining
This 24-year-old centre could be the individual who was the happiest about the Carolina Hurricanes acquiring Marcus Kruger from Chicago, via Vegas. Kruger, along with incumbent Jordan Staal will be able to handle ALL of the responsible minutes for Carolina, freeing Victor Rask up to bring his offensive game to new heights. With the Carolina wings having more depth and scoring talent than recent years as well, there is great upside to be seen with this team.
The other bonus is the length of the contract. A top-six, scoring centre on a $4 million dollar deal may be a decent bargain now, but in two or three years with the salary cap going up even further, there will be great rewards reaped from the bargain that is Victor Rask.
Sell: Jaccob Slavin
Cap Hit: $742, 500 with one year remaining before his seven-year extension at $5.3 million per year kicks in
Jaccob Slavin is going to be a great defenceman; heck, he already is. The 23-year-old received two 5th place votes for the Norris Trophy this past season, and there will be many more votes in seasons to come. That having been said, he will not be very valuable for your fantasy team moving forward. With his big contract extension kicking in next season, as well as Carolina’s young defence core having more puck movers than stay-at-home types, Slavin won’t end up contributing the necessary stats to be hugely fantasy relevant. Unfortunately, he will be another one of those players who is great in the real game, but provides little value for his cost in our fantasy game. Try to sell now while he still has value on his rookie deal.
Thanks for reading. I would be curious to hear if you have any buy/sell candidates on the above teams, and why.
As always, you can find me on twitter @alexdmaclean where I post some of my other smaller musings that don’t make it into the articles.
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