First let me quantify what “value” means. I will use value in differing meanings, but when I’m looking for pure value plays; I’m looking for the highest return per dollar spent. If I can expect 4.5 points from a guy who costs $4,500, I’m going to play that guy almost every night *cough Mike Ribeiro*. So in this context I’m looking for that guy who is projected to give me the most amount of points for the lowest salary cost per point. So who is it on the defensive end?
It’s really a coin-flip between Andrei Markov and Alec Martinez. Depending on where each sits when salaries are released when contests open (hopefully) in a day or two. Going off of what we have from the end of last season Markov was $400 more expensive than Martinez. You can expect the Habs to be highly owned on opening night because it’s Montreal and they are playing Toronto. The underlying statistics from last season never favored the Canadiens but Carey Price kills those poor possession numbers.
One likely player with low ownership totals on opening night will be the Kings Alec Martinez. It’s a late game and he will likely get 2nd unit power-play time with Doughty and Muzzin holding down the first line minutes. My model projects just 4.71 goals scored in the Sharks-Kings game, so why is Martinez a good play?
His salary is likely to be under $5,000 and the model projects him to finish with 3.07 points. Thats a great return at just $1435 per point (if his salary is $4400 where it ended last year).
He’s 2nd among defensemen in even strength points per 60 minutes with 2.64, only behind Brent Burns; and 5th in even strength points per game (which is based off of actual ice-time, not per 60). He’s behind Subban, Giordano, Burns and Wideman here, and yes he’s ahead of Doughty. Don’t be surprised to see him on the score sheet with an even strength assist.
Where he falls off a bit is in power-play totals which is assumed because he’s on the 2nd unit and will likely stay there unless there is an injury, his projections there will always be limited. In this game against the Sharks, however the expected penalties taken by the Sharks is below the league average. So don’t expect the Kings to get a ton of power-play time anyway. If they do get a few opportunities the odds are slightly in their favor, as compared to league average, to cash in.
In the tertiary categories, he projects to have 0.87 shots and 1.07 blocked shots. So you can expect about two in each category. The Kings team pace projects at 58.0 which is slightly above league average, which bodes well for even strength production from the Kings.
The Kings are projected to win this one. Martinez’ even strength ice time trended upward last season and doesn’t really show signs of slowing down this year, especially with the now permanent departure of Slava Voynov. So if you are looking for a value play on defense who projects to produce, look to Martinez.