Those of you involved in salary cap fantasy leagues have quite the juggling act to handle. You need to maximize the production of your fantasy squad, but be smart with your salary allocation. Going out and grabbing the 20 highest-scoring stars would put your roster in trouble after drafting your fifth guy.
Looking at cap hits and production to date in the key stat categories, as well as guessing at how things will project going forward this season, I have put together an "all fantasy" team, just for you. From the list, you will be able to pick out a couple trade targets or just brag about them to the guy in the cubicle next to you if you already own some of these gems.
Sean Monahan, Calgary Flames, $1,775,000
There’s a lot of pressure being a No.1 center as a 19-year-old. But this is fantasy hockey, so he's our No. 1 guy. With 10 points in 11 games, he looks like he's safe to reach 50 points, possibly as many as the low 60s.
Frans Nielsen, New York Islanders, $2,750,000
Regardless of the slowdown that’s sure to come, Nielsen would have to sink to new levels to not reach 50 points. Call him the 1B center to Monahan's 1A.
Lars Eller, Montreal Canadiens, $1,325,000
After six points in three games, Eller has just three in his past 10. He’ll run hot and cold throughout the season, but he's still a safe bet for 50 to 55. He's also decent for PIM and should approach one penalty per game in that stat. He sees time on both special teams, too.
Andrew Shaw, Chicago Blackhawks, $577,500
He’s accumulated seven points in 13 games and that’s a tad higher than expected, but his eight PIM are lower, so call it a wash. Shaw has two power play goals and is a plus-5. At his cap hit, he’s treasured in cap leagues.
Alex Steen, St. Louis Blues, $3,362,500
Now 29 and in the prime of his career, Steen is well on his way to a career season with 11 goals in just 10 games, but there are two drawbacks in terms of a full-season outlook. The first is his team: can the Blues under Ken Hitchcock have a 70-point player? The second is his injury history: Steen gets hurt every year and is likely to miss 10 to 15 games. It's pretty much a certainty. The good news is, even if he misses 10 games, he still looks like he'll take a run at 70 points.
Brandon Saad, Chicago Blackhawks, $764,167
Entry-level contracts are obviously gold in this league format and Saad is the perfect example. Nice and cheap, yet a steady and proven producer in several categories. Thanks in no small part to his team, he was a plus-17 in 2012-13 and should approach that again this season.
Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks, $1,350,000
Since setting the fantasy-hockey world abuzz with a four-goal game on Oct. 8, Hertl has managed just four points in his past nine games. He's still one of the top rookies to own for the season and should finish comfortably in that 45- to 55-point range.
Mason Raymond, Toronto Maple Leafs, $1,000,000
Teams that missed getting Raymond so cheaply must be kicking themselves. He's made a tremendous impact in Toronto already with 11 points in 14 games and is on pace for a career-high 63 points. A slowdown is bound to happen, as Leafs wingers return from injury, but he's still a tremendous bargain.
Kyle Okposo, New York Islanders, $2,800,000
The Okposo we've been waiting for has finally arrived. Then again, had he arrived in 2011 he wouldn't be such a bargain today. His contract carries him for another two years beyond this one, so that's two more years of hopefully clicking with John Tavares.
Alex Chiasson, Dallas Stars $900,000
Though pointless in his past three games, prior to that Chiasson had 16 points in 16 career NHL games dating back to last season. He's a key part of the Stars' top-six and thanks to his entry-level deal, he still has another year after this one.
Brendan Gallagher, Montreal Canadiens $870,000
The feisty, skilled little guy is following up his Calder-nominated season with a similar one, production-wise. His ice time is up because he's now a bigger part of the Canadiens power play. Another entry-level contract steal for fantasy leagues.
Matt Read, Philadelphia Flyers $900,000
He won't be so cheap next year, thanks to that big four-year extension he signed in late September. But for this year, he's still a low-priced own. After starting the season pointless in eight games, Read has four points in his past three and is quickly turning things around. Now if only the entire Flyers team could, too.
Look for the second part of this two-part series on Monday.
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.