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Toronto Maple Leafs lead 'moneypuck' moves in NHL free agency

Graig Abel/NHLI/Getty Images

Hockey analytics pioneer Rob Vollman is ESPN Insider's armchair GM this season, exploring how modern statistics can inform front-office decisions.

Big-name players like Dougie Hamilton, Phil Kessel, and Mike Green may get all the press, but in the salary cap era, the ability to identify and acquire undervalued players can make all the difference. After all, finding so-called "moneypuck" players who can make meaningful contributions at a bargain price is what frees up the cap space for those big impact players in the first place. From that perspective, Toronto is the team that is absolutely dominating the moneypuck market this summer.


What is a moneypuck player?

Putting a hockey twist on a term from Michael Lewis' best-selling baseball analytics book "Moneyball," a moneypuck player refers to anyone whose true talent has been overlooked for one reason or another. This can include older or undersized players, those who were bought out or went undrafted, players coming off of major injuries, those who competed outside the NHL last year, or who may have had chemistry issues on their previous NHL teams, and perhaps just a dose of bad luck.