Saturday, October 20, 2018

NHL 2018 Week 3 Fantasy Hockey Report

This is my week three fantasy hockey report for those competing in head to head categories or rotisserie leagues. There are both standard and deep league acquisition targets, along with some suggestions for sell high, buy low, and players to be concerned about. This is more of a “waiver wire” report, looking for those who are more likely to be available in your league as opposed to the universally owned players. I also do not recommend any players who play 2 games or less over the next 7 days (Monday to Sunday), with a preference for those with 4 or more games.

Best Standard League Adds (20% to 65% Yahoo ownership):

1) Juuse Saros, Nashville, (42% Yahoo ownership): If you need a goalie in any league, add Saros. Pekka Rinne was placed on the IR and will miss some time, which will put Saros on the ice behind that awesome defense until Rinne returns. Certainly anyone who owns Rinne should be scrambling to add Saros.

2) Josh Morrissey, Winnipeg, (29% Yahoo ownership): This kid was a strong addition to teams in deep leagues last season, but has seen his stock climb into standard league relevancy. The Jets have played 8 games with Morrissey collecting 7 PTS, with 3 on the power play. His shots and hits are nothing special, which matters less when he’s scoring. The Jets have a great schedule next week.

3) Bo Horvat, Vancouver, (37% Yahoo ownership): Horvat is generally a low-end center for standard leagues, except for this week the Canucks play 4 games against some bad defenses. He’s got 5 PTS in 7 GP and is a good week 3 target, especially if your league counts face off wins.

4) Chris Kreider, Rangers, (51% Yahoo ownership): Through 7 GP, Kreider has scored 4 goals, 6 PTS, with 22 shots, 13 hits, averaging 17:27 of ice time. He is going to help you in multiple categories, including power play on the Rangers top unit. Kreider is a long term add, not someone who made the list simply for a great schedule.

5) Alex Edler, Vancouver, (37% Yahoo ownership): Edler is not a great real-life defenseman, but since the rest of the Canucks defense blows, Edler is thrust into a bigger role and puts up great fantasy numbers. Gets a ton of ice time (including power play), shoots often, hits and blocks. Canucks play 4 games this week against some bad defenses.

Best Deep League Adds (under 15% ownership):

1) Kailer Yamamoto, Edmonton, (6% Yahoo ownership): McDAVID ALERT! It has been reported that Yamamoto will earn a promotion to the top line with Connor McDavid, which makes him addable in almost every format. That ownership could be 60% by the end of the week. It’s only a bonus that the Oilers play 4 games next week.

2) Linus Ullmark, Buffalo, (5% Yahoo ownership): There is competition in the Buffalo goal, with the starters edge going to Carter Hutton. Keep an eye on Ullmark though, who has played 2 games with 2 wins, stopping 55 of his first 56 shots to start the season. The rookie needs to be more than 5% owned, especially if you also own Hutton.

3) Adam Lowry, Winnipeg, (6% Yahoo ownership): If your league counts hits and face-off wins, then Lowry is probably already owned. The big man has also scored 5 PTS in 8 GP to go with 20 hits and the Jets have a great schedule next week. That makes him borderline ownable in standard leagues next week, but probably not long term.

4) Brandon Tanev, Winnipeg, (9% Yahoo ownership): Through 7 GP, Tanev has 30 hits to go with 4 PTS and 15 shots. Any league that counts hits, this guy could win you the category by himself next week. It’s unlikely he will be able to sustain that hitting pace for the entire season, but ride the freight train in the short term.

5) Sam Girard, Colorado, (5% Yahoo ownership): Girard is a young kid on the rise. His shot and hit numbers are low and he’s only put up 3 PTS in 7 GP, but he’s seeing time on a potent power play and the Avs play 4 games next week. This is a great short-term target in deeper leagues.

The 1% (best adds 1% owned or less):

1) Markus Granlund, Vancouver: This guy is certainly worth a shot next week in deep leagues with the Canucks playing 4 games. His PTS and shots may be a bit low, but he’s averaging 16:27 of ice time and has short term opportunity.

2) Casey Cizikas, Islanders: Having already spent time on IR, Cizikas did not start the season healthy. That hasn’t stopped him from scoring 5 PTS in his last 3 GP. Should start to see more ice time now that he’s producing points.

3) Mike Reilly, Montreal: On a team that lacks any quality depth on defense, Reilly has been averaging almost 23 minutes of ice time per game with 3 PTS and a +4 rating. He’s a serviceable defenseman for deep leagues.

Sell High:

1) Kasperi Kapanen, Toronto: The Finnish player has been a popular add to fantasy teams over the past 2 weeks, seeing his ownership skyrocket to 66% with 8 PTS in his last 6 GP. He loses most of that value as soon as William Nylander returns. The problem is, everyone knows this, so you may have some trouble finding a buyer willing to pay an inflated price. It’s still worth trying.

2) Tomas Tatar, Montreal: Tatar’s stock had fallen very low over the summer, after he was scratched in the playoffs and dumped on Montreal. But suddenly he’s red hot for the Habs, with 8 PTS in his last 5 GP. That’s risen his ownership to 54%. Probably a good time to make a few trade offers.

Buy Low:

1) Victor Hedman, Tampa: The reigning Norris Trophy winner has only scored 1 point through the first 5 games. If you own him, don’t panic. It’s possible that whoever does own him in your league lacks patience.

2) Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg: The Jets franchise center has been playing a ton and has only put up 3 PTS in 7 GP. It’s been a slow start, but it is only a matter of time before he gets hot.

Be Concerned:

1) Anze Kopitar, LA: Kopitar was a prime bust candidate heading into the season, and so far he has only 2 PTS in 6 GP and was scratched in the Kings last game. Clearly he is not 100% healthy.

2) Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh: The Pens have played 6 games and Hornqvist has scored just 1 point with declining ice time. The last 3 GP have seen his ice dip under 15 minutes, which is not what you want from a 70% owned player. He may be droppable in standard leagues.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

2018 Week 2 NHL Fantasy Hockey Report

This is my week two fantasy hockey report for those competing in head to head categories or rotisserie leagues. There are both standard and deep league acquisition targets, along with some suggestions for sell high, buy low, and players to be concerned about. This is more of a “waiver wire” report, looking for those who are more likely to be available in your league as opposed to the universally owned players. I also do not recommend any players who play 2 games or less over the next 7 days (Monday to Sunday), with a preference for those with 4 or more games.

Best Standard League Adds (20% to 65% Yahoo ownership):

1) Elias Lindholm, Calgary, (46% Yahoo ownership): Lindholm has scored 6 PTS over the Flames first 5 GP, averaging almost 21 minutes of ice time on the top line. His value does diminish if he’s moved off the first unit, but the dual position forward is a good play while he’s there.

2) Kasperi Kapanen, Toronto, (31% Yahoo ownership): So long as Nylander is sitting out, Kapanen is a must add, even in standard leagues, while he continues to play with Auston Matthews. 6 PTS and 15 shots in 6 GP is good, especially considering he was playing on the bottom six forwards for the first 2 games.

3) Henri Jokiharju, Chicago, (45% Yahoo ownership): The teenager has scored 5 PTS with 17 shots and 9 hits over Chicago’s first 5 GP playing with Duncan Keith. His ownership was under 10% a week ago, as he has been one of the hottest adds over the last 7 days, reaching standard league relevancy.

4) Zach Hyman, Toronto, (43% Yahoo ownership): If your team needs help in the hits department by player who has been scoring PTS early, look no further than this guy. In 6 GP Hyman has scored 4 PTS with 13 hits, averaging almost 17 minutes of ice time per game.

5) Tyler Johnson, Tampa, (23% Yahoo ownership): Johnson has only played 2 games so far this season, but is currently playing on a line with Palat and Kucherov. TJ isn’t necessarily a long-term acquisition target; however, Tampa has a great schedule this week against some bad goalies so look for him to put up some good numbers.

Best Deep League Adds (under 15% ownership):

1) Zach Parise, Minnesota, (15% Yahoo ownership): Parise has scored 5 PTS with 12 shots over the first 4 GP, averaging over 18 minutes of ice time. The Wild play 4 games next week, so Parise is a strong add in deeper formats and is near the lower end of the standard league ownability spectrum.

2) Alex Killorn, Tampa, (10% Yahoo ownership): Killorn has only scored 1 point with 7 shots and 6 hits over Tampa’s first 3 games, but the Lightning have by far the best schedule next week, so he’s worth considering in deeper leagues. His ice time is up around 16.5 minutes per game.

3) Brady Skjei, Rangers, (5% Yahoo ownership): Through 5 games Skjei has scored 2 PTS with 8 shots and 16 hits, averaging over 22 minutes of ice time. That ownership number is far too low for a defenseman putting up those numbers, especially those in leagues that count hits. With that kind of hitting, you can even justify adding him in a Yahoo standard league.

4) Sven Baertschi, Vancouver, (3% Yahoo ownership): In 5 GP so far this season, Baertschi has scored 5 PTS. He has been weak in the other stat categories, with the exception of the power play, where he is averaging over 4 minutes per game with 3 PP PTS. Anyone getting that kind of power play time needs to be more than 3% owned, even on a bad team.

5) Anthony Cirelli, Tampa, (2% Yahoo ownership): You can find Cirelli on the waiver wire in almost all formats and he has been getting decent playing time over Tampa’s first 3 games. The Lightning have 4 games next week with some bad goalies due to start.

The 1% (best adds 1% owned or less):

1) Matt Grzelcyk, Boston: Grzelcyk has not put up great numbers through 5 games, scoring 2 PTS with 5 shots and 3 hits. The one number that earned him a spot on this list is leading the Bruins in power play time with Krug injured. If your league is deep enough where 1% owned players are addable, this is one guy you should pick up, at least in the short term.

2) Ryan Hartman, Nashville: Through 5 games Hartman has produced 4 PTS with 11 shots and 6 hits, averaging close to 14 minutes of ice time. That’s great for a 1% player, who was good enough that Nashville traded a 1st round pick for him last spring.

3) Jesper Fast, Rangers: There are not many forwards averaging 16.5 minutes per game among the population of 1% owned players, so scoring 4 PTS in 5 GP is an added bonus. That ownership needs to be higher with those numbers.

Sell High:

1) Alex DeBrincat, Chicago: The Blackhawks have defied expectations early in this season with an explosion of offense. DeBrincat is among the reasons for that scoring, with 9 PTS and 19 shots in 5 GP. It’s very unlikely that he will sustain that level of production over the full season. That doesn’t mean you should drop him, but you may be able to flip him in a trade for a better player off to a slow start.

2) Semyon Varlamov, Colorado: So far this season Varlamov has been among the best goalies in the NHL, which is a huge bonus considering where he was ranked heading into the season. Far be it from me to recommend trading away a hot goalie, but his back-up is the future of the franchise, so as soon as Varlamov falters, Grubauer will be there to pounce. Now might be the best time to sell.

Buy Low:

1) Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis: The Blues have played 4 games where their top defenseman has put up 0 PTS with 7 shots, 2 hits, and a -4. This is not worrisome to where you should consider dropping him if you already own him, but may be a good trade target you don't. He’s still averaging over 25 minutes per game, so the PTS will come eventually.

2) Jeff Skinner, Buffalo: There were high expectation for Skinner heading into the season, and he has disappointed this far with just 2 PTS over 5 GP (both points came yesterday). The biggest issue thus far is getting half as many power play minutes as Sheary and Okposo, which should change as soon as the top power play starts to slump.

Be Concerned:

1) Kevin Shattenkirk, Rangers: The Shattenkirk experiment in New York has been nothing short of a dismal failure. Through 4 GP he has 0 PTS with a -4 and has already been a healthy scratch as a 59% owned player. You can safely drop this guy in all standard leagues and shallow formats. At best he’s worth a speculative play in very deep leagues where offensive defensemen are hard to find.

2) Ryan Donato, Boston: Donato was on many sleeper lists heading into October, as a rookie who did very well in a short audition at the end of last season. Through 5 games though, we have already seen the kid become a healthy scratch, scoring just 1 point. The Bruins have a good team with a deep forward group, so it could be difficult for Donato to get the kind of ice time he needs to become an elite scorer.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Best Month To Sign NHL Restricted Free Agents

What is the best month for NHL teams to sign their pending restricted free agents to a new contract? To answer this question, we will look at 870 RFA contracts signed since the salary cap. Each contract gets a score from 0 to 100, then are sorted by what month they were signed. The scores are from the team's perspective and how much value they got from the contract. The first column is the sum of all contract extensions signed before the month of June.

The chart below shows each score by month. Those signed as extensions during the season tend to have a much smaller sample size; for example the two highest scores are Dec and Jan as extensions during the season before their current contracts expire, and those two months also have the smallest sample sizes. Below they were all bundled into one extension column. The large majority of contracts are signed in the offseason, with 81% of all RFA contracts signed from June to October near or after the player becomes a free agent. Contracts signed prior to that have a larger margin of error.

When we look at this June to October window, there is no statistically significant difference between June and July, but the scores do increase significantly if you make the RFA wait until August and beyond. Of those who went unsigned into October, it rarely worked out for the player. Rickard Rakell, Nikita Kucherov, Josh Anderson, Andreas Athanasiou all ended up signing team friendly contracts. It's possible that Johnny Gaudreau got what he wanted in 2016, but that one has since become a bargain with his growth in PTS and the rising salary cap. Turris and Trouba both held out until November and ultimately signed team friendly contracts.

Teams know that they can wait players out. Any player who sits out the entire season will end up losing out on more salary than he would have gained by getting his requested salary. Rarely do players have significant leverage over the team to get their demand. Gaudreau had the most leverage, followed by Kucherov, although they had very different outcomes. Kucherov had just scored 30 goals and signed for 3 years at $4.8M. He scored 100 PTS in year two.  Gaudreau locked in for 6 years at a higher number ($6.8M). For the last 3 years of John Hockey's deal, Kucherov will be making $9.5M.

A reminder to William Nylander and Nick Ritchie, the odds of getting what you want are not in your favour. Eventually, the house always wins. At a certain point in the hold out, they will start to realize they are losing too much money. Everyone breaks eventually.

And Nick, you are on my fantasy team. Savage Beatings is anxiously awaiting your return.

Blog History: NHL Economics, Draft, and Stats

Below are some of my blog posts from the last few years sorted by subject.

NHL Contract Analytics

NHL Economics

NHL Statistics

NHL Draft Analytics

Best/Worst Lists

Sunday, October 7, 2018

NHL 2018 Week 1 Fantasy Hockey Report

This is my week one fantasy hockey report for those competing in head to head categories or rotisserie leagues. There are both standard and deep league acquisition targets, along with some suggestions for sell high, buy low, and players to be concerned about. This is more of a “waiver wire” report, looking for those who are more likely to be available in your league as opposed to the universally owned players. I also do not recommend any players who play 2 games or less over the next 7 days (Monday to Sunday), with a preference for those with 4 or more games.

Best Standard League Adds (20% to 65% Yahoo ownership):

1) Elias Pettersson, Vancouver, (61% Yahoo ownership): The kid has scored 5 PTS in his first 2 NHL games. The team is being very restricted with his minutes early, and he’s really maximizing his limited ice time. His name is quickly disappearing from waiver wires everywhere.

2) Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim, (29% Yahoo ownership): The Swede has posted 4 PTS through 2 GP and the Ducks have 4 games next week. Always a good shooter to ride while he’s on a hot streak.

3) Timo Meier, San Jose, (49% Yahoo ownership): Meier has been getting quality minutes with good players, he’s seeing power play time, and the Sharks have a good schedule next week. He may not have any hits yet through 2 games, but was over 100 last year.

4) Colin Miller, Las Vegas, (39% Yahoo ownership): Miller scored 40 PTS last season and has seen an increase in his deployment through 2 games (including power play) with Schmidt suspended. Vegas plays 4 games next week, so this is a good D to plug into your line-up.

5) Josh Manson, Anaheim, (39% Yahoo ownership): You aren’t buying Manson for power play time, but he is logging heavy minutes early in the season and hits a ton. You can pencil him in for 30 PTS and 200 hits over the full season. Certainly, in the short-term Anaheim plays 4 games next week, so he’ll pad your hit total.

6) Erik Haula, Las Vegas, (25% Yahoo ownership): Has not scored a point yet in the first 2 games, but did score 55 PTS last season. The team has a good schedule and Haula is averaging over 17 minutes of ice time per game, including power play.

Best Deep League Adds (under 15% ownership):

1) Michael Ferland, Carolina, (11% Yahoo ownership): His first 2 games in Carolina have produced 2 PTS, 7 shots, 5 hits, and 1:44 of average power play time. The Canes are deploying him more than Calgary did and Ferland can help in multiple categories.

2) Gustav Nyquist, Detroit, (7% Yahoo ownership): The speedy Swede had a strong preseason and is getting quality minutes on the Red Wings top line, scoring 2 PTS in their first game. It’s also worth noting that he’s a pending unrestricted free agent and extra motivated to put up good numbers.

3) Conor Sheary, Buffalo, (7% Yahoo ownership): I would not have expected Sheary to appear in my week 1 waiver wire watch list, but after two power play goals last night he’s on the radar. If he can continue to show good chemistry with Eichel, his value could jump significantly.

4) Alex Kerfoot, Colorado, (4% Yahoo ownership): Kerfoot is coming off a strong rookie season with 43 PTS and currently has 3 PTS through 2 GP. His usage is still a bit low for him to break through to standard league relevance, but someone to keep an eye on.

5) Dennis Cholowski, Detroit, (7% Yahoo ownership): Cholowski is worth a gamble in deep leagues, at least until the Red Wings blueline gets healthy. The kid had a very strong preseason and scored a goal in the Wings first game.

The 1% (best adds 1% owned or less):

1) Carl Soderberg, Colorado: The Avs have played 2 games and Soderberg has 3 PTS with 2 on the power play. The 32-year-old is always a threat to have an extended cold streak, but he’s playing good right now.

2) Brett Connolly, Washington: Through 2 games Connolly has 1 point with 8 shots, averaging 15 minutes of ice time, including 1:41 on the power play. I just added him in an 18-team league.

3) Maxime Comtois, Anaheim: The teenager has scored 2 goals in his first 2 games with 5 hits. He’ll probably get sent back to junior after 9 games, but in the meantime, Anaheim plays 4 games next week. There is short term value here.

Sell High:

1) TJ Oshie, Washington: Through 2 games Oshie has 5 PTS, 7 shots, and 6 hits. That’s a great fantasy hockey stat line. Don’t forget that before becoming a Stanley Cup champion, Oshie had a months long slump in the regular season and was a disappointing fantasy player. His value may never be higher than it is right now.

2) Jonathan Toews, Chicago: Through 2 games Toews has 5 PTS, 7 shots, and 33 faceoff wins. You can expect him to continue as a top faceoff man, but that point production will slow down. Just like Oshie, Jonathan Hockey will never be more valuable than he is right now.

Be Concerned:

1) Matt Murray, Pittsburgh: It may only be 2 games into the season, but the Matt owners can’t be feeling good. The oft-injured goalie has an early 5.47 GAA and .831 SV%. Those numbers should improve, but there is still cause for concern. The problem is you can’t really trade or drop him, so you’re going to have to ride this out.

2) Martin Marincin, Toronto: Because of Yahoo’s terrible rankings and the prevalence of autodrafting, this healthy scratch magically found his way to 46% Yahoo ownership. Drop him immediately in all leagues. He has no value.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Worst NHL Contracts 2018

What are the 15 worst contracts in the NHL in 2018? Last year’s winner Bobby Ryan has been overtaken by Zach Parise, although there are no winners in this game, only losers. It's probably a coin toss which contract is worst, Ryan or Parise. All things being equal, I'd rather have Parise on my team, but he's owed more money than Ryan, so that breaks the tie. Click here to view last year's list. Antoine Roussel should probably be on this list, but I prefer to allow players to begin playing on a contract before qualifying as league worst deal. He'll be here next year.

There is more preference given to those contracts with more term remaining, which is why the last year of Matt Moulson did not make the list. It would also appear that the "cap recapture penalty" is no longer an issue now that teams have found a way to circumvent it.

1) Zach Parise, Minnesota, 7 more yrs @ $7.4M: Over the last 5 seasons Parise’s games played totals have been 67, 74, 70, 69, 42. Obviously staying healthy has been an issue, and he is now 34 years old with 6 years remaining. The future is not looking good for the Wild. Their Stanley Cup window may be closed, though some may argue it was never truly open. In hindsight, the Parise and Suter contracts were very likely high on the list of decisions that got Chuck Fletcher fired. If it’s any consolation, the last 3 years get pretty cheap in terms of total money out, and he will surely end up on LTIR instead of the team getting hit with a cap recapture penalty. Where can I place a large wager that Parise will suffer a career ending injury in the summer of 2022?

2) Bobby Ryan, Ottawa, 4 more yrs @ $7.25M: Bobby ranked #1 on this list last year, but has been overtaken by Parise. This is probably the most famous terrible contract in the league, after Dorion had tried to insist for months that any suitor for Erik Karlsson also take Bobby Ryan. Obviously, that didn’t work, but the way Ottawa has been shedding payroll, they may soon need Bobby to hit reach the salary floor. He only scored 48 and 54 PTS the 2 seasons before this contract, so they already knew they weren’t going to get elite level production for that elite level salary. The last 2 seasons he has scored 25 and 33 PTS. 

3) Loui Eriksson, Vancouver, 4 more yrs @ $6M: In his last 2 seasons in Boston, Loui scored 52 Goals and 110 PTS. In his first 2 seasons in Vancouver, he has scored 21 Goals and 47 PTS. What the Canucks thought they bought, and what they actually got are not the same. Now Loui is 33 years old with 4 years remaining. He was hoped to have magical chemistry with the Sedins that never materialized. The twins have now retired, the team is in the middle of a rebuild, with Loui still cashing monster paychecks for minimal production.

4) Andrew Ladd, Islanders, 5 more yrs @ $5.5M: Ladd’s point totals the 3 seasons prior to this contract were 54, 62, and 46. Over the first 2 seasons of this contract he has scored 31 and 29 PTS. They thought they were getting a 50-point player, but they got a 30-point player and the decline happened immediately. Now he’s 32 years old with 5 years remaining. That’s not good. He was brought in to help build a contender for John Tavares, they missed the playoffs both years, and Johnny bolted to Toronto. This could not have turned out worse.

5) Shea Weber, Montreal, 8 more yrs @ $7.8M: Weber has already been paid $80M of the $110M he’s owed on his front-loaded contract, so his remaining cap hit is much worse than what he’s actually being paid. He ran into injury problems last season at age 33, having knee surgery that will cost him part of the upcoming schedule. His future productivity is very much in doubt. Don’t expect him to play out the full contract, but he’ll be a prime candidate for LTIR before anyone has to pay a “cap recapture” penalty.

6) Ryan Callahan, Tampa, 2 more yrs @ $5.8M: Over the first 4 seasons of this contract, Callahan point totals have been 54, 28, 4, and 18. Now he’s 33 years old with 2 more years left at a price tag that’s far too high. We have seen Steve Yzerman’s signature on some of the most incredible bargain contracts in the salary cap era, but Callahan’s deal does remind us that Stevie Y has some strikeouts too.

7) Milan Lucic, Edmonton, 5 more yrs @ $6M: His first season in Edmonton saw the big man score 50 PTS to help the Oilers return to the playoffs for the first time in years. Year two saw him take a nose dive down to 10 Goals and 34 PTS with the team missing the playoffs. Now he’s on the wrong side of 30 years old with $30M in cap hit still owing. There have been some rumblings that Milan may have demanded a trade, but if that’s true, good luck finding a team who wants to pick up the tab for this one.

8) Carey Price, Montreal, 8 more yrs @ $10.5M: Price signed this extension prior to the 2017/18 season with a year remaining on his old deal. He then proceeded to put up the worst season of his career at age 30 with a 3.11 GAA and .900 SV%. If he can return to form, he has the talent to be a Vezina candidate. How likely is that to happen at age 31? Sure, Pekka Rinne did win the Vezina at age 34, so it’s not impossible, I’m just not betting on it because Carey does not have the Nashville Predators defense playing in front of him. The Habs roster is a train wreck in progress.

9) Scott Darling, Carolina, 3 more yrs @ $4.2M: His first season in Carolina was nothing short of a disaster, posting a 3.18 GAA and .888 SV%. It’s possible that he could still turn this around at age 29, but I’ll believe it when I see it. This upcoming season he will split time with Petr Mrazek and if he still sucks, he’ll be strong buyout candidate in the summer. Darling has had a strong 2018 preseason, for whatever that's worth. He'll need to do that over a full schedule to play his way off this list.

10) Matt Belesky, Rangers, 2 more yrs @ $3.8M: Boston managed to get Belesky’s contract thrown into the Nash trade as a salary dump. Fans of the Hartford Wolf Pack will hope that he can improve on the 5 Goals he scored in 35 AHL GP last season. Matty could be returned to the AHL, then again, if the Rangers want to tank and get a higher draft position, Belesky could be a truly helpful addition to the big league roster. Regardless of how they choose to deploy him, they would get more value by lighting $3.8M on fire.

11) Corey Perry, Anaheim, 3 more yrs @ $8.6M: It’s worth pointing out that with 49 PTS in 71 GP, Perry is the leading scorer on this list from last season. His production warrants about half as much salary as he’s currently earning, with his best days most certainly behind him. Perry suffered a serious knee injury during warm-ups of a preseason game and will miss the next 5 months. Whether or not this will permanently slow him down for the rest of his career remains to be seen. At age 33 time is not be on his side. It's worth pointing out that Perry qualified for this list prior to his injury, so at least one of those three remaining years will be a write-off on LTIR.

12) Henrik LundqvistRangers, 3 more yrs @ $8.5M: The first half of this 7-year contract returned good value for the Rangers, but his play started to decline at age 34. His GAA and SV% the last 2 seasons have been 2.74, 2.98 and .910, .915. Last season the Rangers missed the playoffs for the first time in years and have entered a full rebuild, still dragging around this 36-year-old declining asset for 3 more years. The Rangers wanted to trade him while he might still have some value left, but King Henry likes the Big Apple.

13) Frans Nielsen, Detroit, 4 more yrs @ $5.25M: When the Red Wings passed on Jakob Chychrun so they could dump the Datsyuk contract on Phoenix, Ken Holland used the money he saved to land Nielsen in free agency hoping to extend their playoff streak. The Red Wings have not played a single playoff game over the first two seasons of this contract, and now Nielsen is 34 years old with 4 years remaining. He scored 52 PTS the season before signing this contract, scoring 41 and 33 PTS since landing in Detroit.

14) Brendan Smith, Rangers, 3 more yrs @ $4.3M: There is no chance that the Rangers expected Smith to be playing for their AHL affiliate in year one of this contract, where he scored 2 PTS in 11 GP. He’s no guarantee to make their roster this season, but it’s unlikely the Rangers will be competing for a playoff spot, so they may as well play him on the big team. It’s another one of those “he can help the team if the goal is to tank” type of situation.

15) Karl Alzner, Montreal, 4 more yrs @ $5.5M: Alzner did not originally qualify for the top 15, getting edged out by Brandon Dubinsky. He ranks #3 on my Montreal Canadiens worst contracts since the salary cap list, and was nominated for this list, just not chosen. Then a day later the Habs ended his 600+ game ironman streak as a healthy scratch on opening night in favour of Jordie Benn and Xavier Oullett. Ouch. This requires me to amend the original list and bump Dubinsky down to an honorable mention. 


16) Brandon Dubinsky, Columbus, 3 more yrs @ $5.8M: The decline of Brandon Dubinsky did not hit full stride until last season at age 31 when he scored 16 PTS in 62 GP. He also contributed zero PTS in 6 playoff GP. At this point in his career he’s little more than a checking line center, problem is that commodity is supposed to cost significantly less than this.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Best NHL Contracts 2018

What are the best NHL non-entry level contracts of 2018? By this I do mean the “best bargain” contracts, not just the most valuable assets. We see other people do similar lists where they just list the 15 best players and whatever they make is a great contract. Being a valuable asset certainly helps on the bargain scale, but I prefer to define “bargain” as a contract for less than 10% of the salary cap. It is also no great honour for a player to appear on this list because it means that they are earning significantly less than their market value.

There is a strong preference given to players with more term remaining on their contracts. If we were simply asking who is the most underpaid NHL player in 2018, that's probably still Kucherov, but it only has 1 season remaining. Click here to view last year's list.

1) Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado, 5 more yrs @ $6.4M: MacKinnon was barely edged out by Taylor Hall in MVP voting, and arguably should have won the award depending on who you talk to. Year one of this contract he scored 53 PTS, year two he scored 97 PTS in fewer games. His best point total in his first 4 NHL seasons was 63, so there’s at least some chance that last year’s offensive explosion was a fluke; but if this is the new normal, the next 5 years will be a ridiculous bargain. The emergence of linemate Mikko Rantanen likely helped MacKinnon take his production to the next level and the Avs will be able to keep this duo together for the length of this contract.

2) Seth Jones, Columbus, 4 more yrs @ $5.4M: Jones jumped from 41 PTS in 2016/17 up to 57 PTS last season, finishing 4th in Norris Trophy voting. It did not take long for this contract to become an extreme bargain. He also fired 249 shots on goal last year, which would be high for a forward, but for a defenseman is elite (in the top 20 for D in the salary cap era). That trade has started to look bad for the Predators, as you won’t see Ryan Johansen’s current contract anywhere near this list. Although the Preds did need centers more than they needed defensemen.

3) Roman Josi, Nashville, 2 more yrs @ $4M: This is a player who would command $8M to $10M if he went UFA tomorrow, so the fact that the Predators are paying him half that for 2 more seasons is practically robbery. He scored 34 PTS in 100 GP in the last 2 seasons of his entry level, then scored 95 PTS in 153 GP over the first 2 years of this contract. His game jumped to the next level very early in this 7-year deal, which will end up costing him many millions in career earnings when all is said and done.

4) Aleksander Barkov, Florida, 4 more yrs $5.9M: In year one of this contract he scored 52 PTS in 61 GP, year two he scored 78 PTS in 79 GP and finished 4th in Selke Trophy voting. They’ve got 4 more years of a Selke Trophy candidate at a great price. He’s had some injury issues over his first 5 seasons, but last year was the first that he was able to stay healthy and he was awesome. At age 23, his best years should still be ahead of him.

5) John Klingberg, Dallas, 4 more yrs @ $4.2M: Klingberg had only played 65 NHL games when he signed this contract. You rarely see a contract this size for a player with that little experience, but the gamble paid off immensely for the Stars. His point totals over the first 3 seasons have been 58, 49, and 67, finishing 6th in Norris Trophy voting in 2017/18. The number of defensemen who have scored more PTS for less money in the salary cap era is a short list (which includes Duncan Keith, John Carlson, and Victor Hedman).

6) Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg, 6 more yrs @ $6.1M: The kid scored 61 PTS in 71 GP before signing this contract, jumping up to 81 PTS in year one. Last season he was in the MVP conversation prior to sustaining a shoulder injury that cost him 20 games. He is now a legit #1 center that this team can build around for years to come. The Jets might be wise to try to use this contract to try and squeeze Patrick Laine into a more team friendly deal, using the “we don’t think you should be making more than player A” tactic. It’s worth a shot.

7) Vincent Trocheck, Florida, 4 more yrs @ $4.8M: Trocheck scored 53 PTS in 76 GP before signing this contract, and by year two he was up to 75 PTS. At age 25, he is entering what should be his prime years of production at a bargain price. Between him and Barkov, the Panthers have a great 1-2 value punch at center for the next 4 years. If they are able to build the right pieces around this core, they could be a contender very soon. We’ll see if that helps sell tickets.

8) Nikita Kucherov, Tampa, 1 more yr @ $4.8M: This was last year’s best bargain contract, but has fallen on the list as it will soon expire. That’s an unbelievable price to pay for 39 Goals and 100 PTS. He was coming off a 30 Goal season when his RFA contract expired, and Yzerman made him sweat it out until October to squeeze him into this bridge deal. He even got him at this discount for 3 years, probably using the low taxes in Florida to convince him to sign. The average price of an RFA coming off entry level contract having just scored 30+ goals is $6.7M AAV (adjusting for cap inflation). Where were the offer sheets?

9) Andre Vasilevsky, Tampa, 2 more yrs @ $3.5M: That’s a ridiculously low cap hit for a goalie who finished in the top 3 of Vezina Trophy voting. He signed this deal on July 1st a full year before becoming a restricted free agent, after playing just 24 games as Tampa’s back-up goalie. He had never carried the full load as a team’s #1 goalie and the gamble paid off for the Lightning. Year one of this contract he put up 44 Wins and a .920 SV %.

10) Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary, 4 more yrs @ $6.8M: Mr Hockey held out until October 10 before signing this contract in 2016, contributing to a disappointing first season with 61 PTS. Then in year two he exploded up to 84 PTS, establishing himself as one of the more dangerous offensive threats in the league. He also has elite level gentlemanly behavior, locking down the Lady Byng trophy in 2018. As a GM, you can’t put a price that…

11) David Pasternak, Boston, 5 more yrs @ $6.8M: He scored 70 PTS in the last year of his entry level contract, then jumped up to 80 PTS in year one of his new deal. His emergence as a dominant offensive force helped elevate the Bruins last season into a Stanley Cup contender, playing on a dominant first line with Marchand and Bergeron. There is no way Boston will trade this kid, unless maybe he's a party animal or a huge nerd who enjoys visiting museums.

12) Erik Karlsson, Ottawa, 1 more yr @ $6.5M: The fact that this contract will expire at the end of the season is the only reason it is not higher on the list. He can pretty much name his price when he hits the UFA market, so getting him this year at $6.5M is a huge win for the Sharks. The big question is, will he accept less money to play for a contending team? My guess is 80% chance he will sign an extension with the Sharks. He’ll love being in that dressing room, and would doesn’t love living in San Jose.

13) Shayne Gostisbehere, Philly, 5 more yrs @ $4.5M: The Ghost had 39 PTS in 76 GP in the last year of his entry level, then shot up to 63 PTS in year one of this contract. Defensemen who produce that much offense tend to be much more expensive, so having him for 5 more years is tremendous value during what should be his prime years of production. Going that low on the AAV and that high on the term will end up costing Shayne many millions in career earnings, similar to Josi. RFA defensemen coming off 60-point seasons average $6.5M AAV (adjusted for cap inflation). The Ghost should have bet on himself, a similar mistake was made by the next guy on the list.

14) Rickard Rakell, Anaheim, 4 more yrs @ $3.8M: Rakell scored 43 PTS the season before signing this contract, then jumped up to 51 PTS in year one of this deal and 69 PTS in year two. That’s a great price for a 30+ Goals. He ranks very favourably on the “dollars per point” scale, which is great for the team, less good for the player. His agent made a mistake locking his client up for this long at this price. This should have been a 2-year bridge deal, not a 6-year at that price.

15) Mattias Ekholm, Nashville, 4 more yrs @ $3.8M: The decision to sign a 7-year contract under $4M AAV will ultimately cost Ekholm millions of dollars in career earnings. He will be 32 years old when it expires, at which age it will be difficult to hit a home run in free agency. This contract is incredible if you are David Poile, but not if you’re the player. This was not a “bet on yourself” type of contract, when clearly Matty should have placed a wager on himself. He turned out to be far better than you’d expect at that price.