Puttin' on the Foil

...Of Trades, Free-Agents, and Foiled Knuckles: an armchair scholar's hockey blog . . . "Let 'em know you're there."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Capped Team of Free Agents

We all know the best way to build a team is through the draft: scout well, nurture and cultivate good young players, and watch your team succeed in the long run. But is that still the only way to go in the new salary cap era of the NHL? Can you build a team through free agency rather than the draft?

Let's see what the best team money can buy is. To be eligible, players must have signed a new deal as a UFA with a new team, not their old team. The team will be limited to the new cap of $44 million, which includes a spare centre, winger, and defenseman. Actual signing figures were used as a way of keeping the all-UFA team fair, but bear in mind that players who signed for less because of hometown discounts will skew the results a bit. Of course, players who went to a crappy team for inflated salaries will skew results the other way. Also, I chose to omit formerly elite but suspect health players like Lindros, Nolan, and Hasek. Otherwise, I might have gambled on Lindros.

All this means some of the better players are left off, and players like Jay McKee, who was grossly overpaid to lure him to a crappy team, likely won't make it under the cap. Of course, a team needs a few key players to be successful.

One further thing: bear in mind that in real life it's not this easy. In real life, you can be scooped by another team, players won't come for a hometeam discount, players will want more if your team sucks, or you can jump on Anson Carter at $2.5, be happy about it, then JP Dumont comes onto the scene for $2.25 and you kick yourself because you wasted $250000.

So here is my choice for a free agent team:

....................Years....Total ($)....Yearly ($)
Centres
1. Arnott.............5.......22.5.........4.500
2. Cullen............4........11.2.........2.800
3. Peca..............1........2.5..........2.500
4. Robitaille........1........0.6...........0.600
5. Green..............1.......0.5..........0.500

Wingers
1. Shanahan........1........4............4.000
2. Samsonov.......2........7.05........3.525
3. Sykora............1........2.9.........2.900
4. Dumont...........2........4.5.........2.250
5. Rucinsky.........1.......1.75........1.750
6. Simon.............1........1............1.000
7. McAmmond....1........0.725.......0.725
8. Radivojevic......2........1.28........0.640
9. Barnaby.........1........0.625.......0.625

Defensemen
1. Spacek..........3..........10..........3.333
2. Witt...............3.........7.5..........2.500
3. Pothier...........4..........10..........2.500
4. Carney...........2.........4.2..........2.100
5. Tjarnqvist.......1.........1.625.......1.625
6. Hill................1..........0.6..........0.600
7. Delmore.........1........0.45.........0.450

Goalies
1. Legace..........1........1.4...........1.400
2. Caron.............1.........0.65........0.650

................................Remaining.......Used
Salary Cap ($)....44....0.5266.............43.4733

I had to make due with the best centres available. Arnott is a real top line centre, though not an elite one. Cullen is decent. Peca is not very useful in the regular season, but will be essential in the playoffs, plus he gives the team an intimidating checking factor.

Some elite wingers were necessary, and mission accomplished with Shanahan and Sykora. Chose to take Samsonov even though he's overpaid for his level of production just because you need as many intimidating players as possible. This team will need to rely on depth for secondary scoring, since there's really only 1.5 lines of top line wingers, but all four lines are trustworthy and reasonably fast. Reunite Arnott and Sykora, and add in Samsonov to make a scary top line. The second line has Shanahan, Cullen, and Dumont, who should also be able to score. The checking line of Peca, McAmmond, and Rucinsky is excellent.

Much care was made to ensure defensive depth, and had to sacrifice the option of having some elite defensemen to achieve this. Spacek, Pothier, and Tjanqvist are all serviceable in both ends of the ice. Witt and Carney add additional intimidating checking ability and toughness.

As far as special teams are concerned, we get a frightening first PP unit (Shanahan, Arnott, Dumont, Spacek, Sykora), but weak 2nd unit. Penalty kill is solid (Peca, Robitaille, Rucinsky).

Goaltending is serviceable but not elite in any way. Relies on team defense to overcome poor goaltending. Gerber and his bloated contract was the only #1 goalie to move this offseason, so I chose Legace to save cash.

Bench players were cheapest available, each with a role if necessary, but not reliable enough to play significantly.

Looking at the team, ample thoughness was provided (Witt, Shanahan, Arnott, Peca, Barnaby, Carney, and nuclear deterrent Simon). It also has good leadership (former captains or assistants Shanahan, Witt, Peca, and Carney) and Cup winners (Arnott, Sykora, Shanahan, Legace, Hill, Cullen). And the team is not horribly old.

Of course this isn't the only decent team that could be made; good players I considered but who were left off due to cap concerns include McKee, MacAuley, Kubina, Parrish, Recchi, Carter, Blake, Corvo, Chara, Jovanovski, Grier, Kuba, Ward, Johnsson, Bulis, and Markov. Nor is it a superlative team. It is merely a good-looking team on paper that has a decent chance at making the playoffs. It certainly won't convince teams to abandon the draft and form their teams out of the pool of available free agents, but maybe it shows that the landscape is changing, and that free agents will be much more crucial than ever before.

Free agent signings - ESPN
Free agent signings - Canoe.

1 Comments:

  • At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    exceltent point. very nice post.

     

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