Last night, the Rangers re-signed their final arbitration eligible RFA, locking up Derick Brassard to a five-year deal at $5 million per season. This came a few days after locking up another key RFA, Mats Zuccarello to a one-year deal at $3.5 million. The reactions to the Brassard and Zuccarello contracts seem to be a bit mixed. Fans are clearly happy the players are back, but the contracts seem to be “backwards” as most have communicated.
It’s true, the Rangers took a calculated risk with Zuccarello, and a little less of a risk with Brassard. But let’s tackle the first question: Why did the Rangers give Brassard more than he was asking for in arbitration?
The answer here is simple: Arbitration for Brassard was a one-year request, and it would make him a UFA at the age of 27, where he could cash in big time from a team in need of a 2C/3C. The Rangers bought four of those UFA years, through the age of 31 (remember, Brass will be playing out his twenties in New York, not his thirties). That costs money. In fact, it only cost them $50,000 more per year for those seasons.
There are multiple reports that the Rangers have re-signed RFA center Derick Brassard to a five-year deal worth $25 million ($5 million cap hit). The deal will keep their second line center in blue until the age of 31. Brassard found chemistry with linemates Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot last season, putting up a line of 18-27-45 in 81 games and another 6-6-12 in 23 playoff games. Brassard has decent metrics, driving puck possession, but his WOWY (puck possession of teammates with/without Brass) show that he may have benefited from his linemates more than his linemates benefiting from him.
That said, $5 million is fair market value for Brassard, giving the Rangers a much needed 2C in his twenties. There really isn’t much to complain about on this deal.
Per Elliotte Friedman, RFA center Derick Brassard is requesting $4.95 million in arbitration, while the Rangers have countered with $3.825 million. The gap here is larger than the gap for Chris Kreider’s arbitration numbers, but that isn’t really a barometer. The Rangers have a history of getting their RFAs under contract before arbitration, and this one will hopefully be no different. The middle ground here is $4.5 million, which is right where I ballparked him.
While $4.5 million may seem a bit steep for Brassard, let’s remember that 2C’s are pulling in $5-$6 million lately. It may hurt this year, but the cap is expected to hit $75 million next year and $80 million the year after. When looking at those numbers, $4.5 million is a steal.
Now that the roster is finally taking shape, and the pieces are starting to fall into place, the main questions are about the line combinations and kids making the roster. Signings like Tanner Glass and Lee Stempniak add flexibility to a roster that was almost 100% reliant on kids making the roster, while all of the core pieces are returning for this season.
No matter which way you look at it, the Rangers have significant turnover this season. They lost Brad Richards, Benoit Pouliot, Brian Boyle, Derek Dorsett, and Dan Carcillo up front. They lost Anton Stralman on the blue line. But hey, 100% of their goalies will be back this year, so that’s a plus.
Derick Brassard and John Moore remain unsigned, but that’s not really a big concern. Both will be back and both will fit under the salary cap. Piggybacking off Suit’s line combinations post, here’s what we could be looking at on opening night:
Happy Friday, everyone. Let’s chat a little this afternoon. We will start at 1pm, but drop by at 12:45pm to fill that queue up. Until then, feel free to use this as an open thread to discuss the newly signed Zuccarello/Kreider contracts, Brassards pending arbitration, bargain bin free agents, whatever. See everyone this afternoon!
Assuming Alain Vigneault can continue to improve Kreider’s defense, Kreider’s contract should immediately become a bargain. The big, skilled forward has the potential to explode this coming season. He is now firmly established in the NHL, will have another camp under his belt, will be coming off a solid playoff season and will also want to prove that he was worth that $2.9 million he was demanding prior to agreeing with Glen Sather earlier this week.
Kreider is still all about potential and –while still slightly raw– he has 30-40 goal potential. Given his likely line mates (Stepan and Nash) and his talent, there’s no reason why he can’t hit 30 goals this coming season. In fact 30 is a number many fans will expect (albeit unfairly expect) from Kreider given his development over the past year. Twenty-One players scored 30 or more goals during the last regular season, and only Ryan Johansen of the Blue Jackets (33 goals, on his entry level contract) earned less than $3 million.
The Rangers have re-signed Chris Kreider to a two-year bridge deal, worth $2.35 million in the first year and $2.6 million in the second year ($2.475 million cap hit). Kreider finally had his breakout season, putting up 17-20-37 in 66 games after being called up early in the season by the Rangers. Kreider also put up 5-8-13 in the playoffs after missing the first round and a half with a broken hand.
Kreider has been an interesting prospect. With elite talent, he has as high a ceiling as any forward prospect we’ve seen in New York since Tony Amonte. Problem is that he still hasn’t put it all together yet, which drove his cost down a bit. Last year was a solid year for the kid, but he needs to build on this past season and show he can consistently be a first line contributor to get the big bucks.
Last year: 43-32-7, fourth in the Metro Division. Eliminated by the Penguins in the first round.
Key additions: Scott Hartnell, Brian Gibbons
Key subtractions: R.J. Umberger, Jack Skille, Derek MacKenzie, Blake Comeau, Nikita Nikitin
Franchise direction: The Jackets are happy as clams with the way things are going after they made a surprise postseason appearance and gave Pittsburgh all it could handle in the first round of the playoffs. Columbus had to let go of a few spare parts to provide flexibility and allow the team to lock up key long-term pillars like Ryan Johansen and Brandon Dubinsky, but the team has quality reinforcements. Read more »