So the Colorado Avalanche signed David Jones to a 4 year, 16 million dollar deal and that drew some debate. Let's take a slightly closer look.
It is strange to look at guys at this juncture of their careers. At 27, that is the unsaid prime age of players in the NHL or where they bloom even more. There will not be a really advanced look at this but a simple nuts and bolts view. After all, why go too deep into something like this anyway in June? Its all about the prime at this point but those fantasy implications are very valid.
First of all, let us take a look at the baseline (Mr. Jones and his numbers). Here we go......
So in the interest of fairness, we projected the 2009-10 season as if David Jones played 75 games. In that case, he would have had a 30 goal season and a little over 50 points. The numbers have slightly declined a bit as he would have had almost 100 hits had he stayed healthy and not tore his ACL. One can see the potential in Jones and if Matt Duchene gets his head on straight and over his injuries, then Jones is going to be a lethal power forward in Colorado for years to come. The makeup of a blossoming player is there at least.
The question is does he merit a $4 million a year salary and the answer is on the open market, he does, given the current CBA and projected cap. With the right linemates, Jones has shown clear ability to be a 30-20 guy at the very least, maybe even a 30-30. He just has to shoot the puck more. His goal should be 180-200 shots on net this season.
Next, we decided to take a look at Drew Stafford of the Buffalo Sabres. The Buffalo winger is 215 pounds and has started to play a more physical game in the last year. However his production did tail off a bit despite a 20 goal, 50 point campaign. We will expound on that one in a moment. The bottom line is Stafford has that potential much like Jones but has produced a little more consistently at this juncture. Both have about the same surrounding talent to an extent, so it will be interesting to see how Stafford starts to combine the elements of his game. If he continues to play with Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno, he may be able to.
Again, let's take a look at those fun three year averages.
So if you are wondering, Drew Stafford has one shorthanded point in the last three years. The only concern we have is how much of a fluke the 2010-11 season actually was. There are some misnomers to note. For one, Stafford's hit counter nearly doubled (granted he played 18 more games). He did have a 30 assist season despite struggling throughout most of the first half. He was a 20-30 guy who easily has 30-30 potential. After all he scored 30+ the year before. His power play production should see a bit of a bump next year as Buffalo relies on him more. Stafford has all the tools to be a force but has to apply them more like he did two seasons ago and less like last season.
More or less, Stafford has earned his $4 million a year but has more work to do to be considered for that next line err raise. The guy has to crack the 60 point plateau because at times his two way game does leave some to be desired. Stafford in some ways has Patrick Sharp like offensive capabilities but just has to package the whole game together. Can he do it? Time will tell.
Then there is Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks. Here is a guy who has had two 60+ point seasons in a row and yet even some have admitted he has more room to grow as an offensive threat. The fact that he can play Wing and Center definitely do help. Pavelski has been pretty darn good in the playoffs aside from this season's clunker. Hey it happens once in awhile, right? Right! Some will say Logan Couture has kind of passed him but not so fast. Pavelski has too much talent and can play in all phases where Couture does not have that all mastered quite yet.
The regular season numbers kind of regressed back to the bell so to speak but a 30-30 year is still a 30-30 year. At any rate, here is that shiny three year average.
Basically Pavelski is right around a 60-65 point guy to be honest. He missed some time the previous two years before playing in all 82 this year. The fact that he is not afraid to shoot the puck is very encouraging but at times his shot selection is a little suspect. Sure one cannot have it both ways, but Pavelski has the talent to have an accuracy rate of 13-15% or at least 12-13. Also with the eventual exit of Patrick Marleau. That will mean even more time on the top power play unit and more opportunities. He could even see a bump up to 12-15 power play goals.
Gradually the Sharks will transition to a core of Couture and Pavelski. That will be a good thing for San Jose as the old guard just could not get the job done fantasy wise last year. With a new infusion, the skies look more teal in San Jose. Expect another 30-30 season and a higher shot total with at least ten goals. Pavelski also has improved defensively and pundits have noticed. Fantasy owners have too. The man is on his way.
Lastly we come to a guy who is poised to break back out next year and that would be Travis Zajac. The problem with Zajac was he missed 67 games this season due to an Achilles injury. People forget the he rushed back a bit especially by his playoff performance, which has been very good. The six points in 15 games this year is really just a token considering the playoffs. Overall Zajac suffered through last year like most of the Devils did. The two years before that Zajac had 60+ point seasons.
That is why we added the extra year to be honest in this average because really this was a lost year for Zajac. Here is his story as another 27 year old to look out for.
The numbers do understandably go down but the 13 playoff points and two game winners have to be noted in the body of work. This was a player who a few years back had 67 points and a +22 with over 200 shots on goal. That type of talent is still clearly in Zajac, who may not have Zach Parise next season but then again, he did seem to click with Ilya Kovalchuk and Adam Henrique at times. Now next year is a contract year but with an emerging power forward and a near 90 point talent flanked by his side, Zajac is going to be fine with or without his North Dakota teammate. He is going to get paid and is an underrated cog in the Devils plans going ahead.
He should also be a valuable asset for your fantasy team for years to come as unlike the three previous forwards, he has that talent to play all three phases better than any of them. Zajac will be a 55-60 point player next year at least with 20+ power play points. Zajac will go later in drafts because people will look at this year. Keep an eye out.
This simple guide of 27 year olds does not include a few but just wanted to use a fantasy cross reference here of guys that are around a $4 million cap hit. Good luck this fantasy season and hopefully you make all the right choices.