How often do we see this? A player who is pretty steady at 38 points per season has a career year when his contract is about to expire. Pittsburgh winger Pascal Dupuis, now 34, has topped 40 points just twice in his career. He almost did it again, except this time the season was 48 games long. Which begs the question – if he signs somewhere else, is it time for fantasy owners to bail?
The closest comparison that comes to mind is a former checking-line forward who played for the Oilers by the name of Todd Marchant. Marchant was money-in-the-bank for posting between 35 and 40 points, except for one year – his contract year – in which he tallied 60. He parlayed that into a big deal with Columbus, but then never saw 35 points again.
Count me among the many poolies who were suckered for that one, drafting him that summer and expecting 50 points out of him on his new team. So is Marchant my “Fool me once, shame on you…” moment? And if so, would Dupuis be my “Fool me twice, shame on me”?
Let's dig further.
Todd Marchant's power play time increased from 3:09 per game that last season with Edmonton, to 3:21 in his first year with Columbus.
Pascal Dupuis doesn't really get any power play time at all (averaged 48 seconds per game this season).
Todd Marchant saw a lot of time on a line with similar caliber players from one team to the next.
Pascal Dupuis plays with Sidney Crosby now, but next year he won't. That's quite a drop-off, regardless of who his centerman is on a new team. More than the bump in PP time (that he'll surely get) can compensate for.
Todd Marchant had never tallied more than 40 points prior to his big campaign.
Pascal Dupuis posted 59 points in 2011-12.
Because Dupuis tallied 38 points in 48 games, which is a 65-point pace, he will command northward of $5 million per season on the open market. At 34 years of age, he's going to want four years at the very least, to carry him to retirement.
The Penguins already have too many long-term contracts and not a lot of room to pay Dupuis. The hometown discount needed for him to stay would be unreasonable. So barring some fancy cap manoeuvring by GM Ray Shero, he's gone. So let's look deeper. I see three obvious factors.
1. Sidney Crosby
2. How much has “luck” been a factor this year?
3. Probable 2013-14 salary
Again – we're assuming Dupuis moves to a new team.
The Crosby Factor
It's 2013-14 and Dupuis no longer plays with Crosby. That hurts, right?
Not as much as you think.
Of the 97 points that Dupuis compiled over the past 130 games, he earned 58 of them with Crosby nowhere to be seen (per Frozen Pool). Crosby was on his line for the other 39 points. When Sid missed the month of April with his broken jaw, Dupuis picked up 12 points in 12 games.
The “Luck” Factor
Looking at behindthenet.ca, if you take a look at the Pittsburgh team shot percentage with Dupuis on the ice, it was a lofty 13.3 percent in the regular season – his own number was 9.7. Both numbers are unsustainable. In 2011-12, the team shot 10.1 percent with Dupuis on the ice. Dupuis himself scored on 11.7 percent of his shots. His 2011-12 numbers are reasonable and I would put a lot more stock in them. That is – 59 points.
The Salary Factor
Whenever a team coughs up big dough to a free agent, he becomes what I like to dub a “Golden Boy.” What I mean by that is – the organization, or more specifically the GM, need to look good. They can't hand $3 or $5 million to a player and then have him be terrible (ahem – Ville Leino). So to prevent that from happening, the newly signed player gets first dibs on the best linemates and the top power play time. It doesn't always work, but more often than not, it does (P.A. Parenteau is a great example).
Dupuis won't get a Sidney Crosby to play with, but with his potential salary he'll get the closest guy that the team has to offer.
Here is how you tackle this one:
Because Dupuis loses Crosby, his value will take a hit. As it should. But the problem is – it will take too much of a hit. Panicky owners will probably feel as though they are selling high on him and slyly moving him for a 60-point player. Just as they did last summer with Parenteau, who was no longer playing with John Tavares and thus was destined to suck, right? We all know how that turned out.
Owners will overcompensate for the shift in fantasy value, and to me that spells opportunity. Much like I slyly acquired Parenteau prior to him signing anywhere last summer (for Nathan Horton, Andrei Kostitsyn and two low picks, for those curious), I plan to kick tires on Dupuis.
And as long as his owner isn't reading this, I should be golden. I think Dupuis is a safe play at 55 to 60 points with upside, barring a catastrophic destination such as Nashville or Phoenix – two teams that don't exactly encourage 65-point players. Worth the risk.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.