As mentioned yesterday, the NHL is very adamant about sticking to a $60 million cap for the 2013-2014 season. This has a lot of the larger market teams worried, as GMs built their clubs for at least a $70 million cap, not a $60 million cap. The Rangers have a total of 16 players (10 forwards, 4 defensemen, 2 goalies) signed for the 2013-2014 campaign, totaling $51.8 million in cap space.
The organization will need to re-sign Michael Del Zotto (prior to this shortened season), Ryan McDonagh, Carl Hagelin, and Derek Stepan. All four will be on second year deals –and RFAs– which makes them cheaper to re-sign. Without a second buyout the Rangers would need to get these four, plus one more forward and one more defenseman, and they would have approximately $8.2 million to work with.
If the Rangers proceed with buying out a second player (as discussed yesterday), they will have an extra $1.5 million to work with. For the sake of this post, let’s use the $1.5 million projected with the buyout of Mike Rupp. Giving it more though, a Rupp buyout may be required at a $60 million cap. That makes seven total players for the Rangers to sign, and approximately $9.7 million to work with.
The two forwards (12th and 13th forwards) and one defenseman (7th defenseman) will likely come at or around the minimum salary. It’s a safe assumption to go with approximately $650k per player, costing the Rangers a total of $1.95 million. That leaves the Rangers with $7.75 million to get MDZ, McDonagh, Hagelin, and Stepan under contract. That’s an average of $1.9375 million per player.
Market value is relatively useless right now, as the market is not only changing, but getting a massive overhaul. It may not seem like much, but when 30 teams have $10 million less to spend, that sends ripples throughout the league and really affects the market for unsigned players. All in all, that’s $300 million less for the players in 2013-2014.
But let’s also remember that Slats is a master at getting his second year players under contract for affordable contracts. Even Ryan Callahan, who was in the process of being named the Rangers captain, only got $4.6 million over two years ($2.3 million cap hit) in his second deal. The counter arguments here are the Dan Girardi and Marc Staal contracts, but they signed four and five-year deals, respectively.
The organization cannot afford to give any of these four long-term deals like that, given the state of the NHL economy. So we have to use the Cally ($2.3 million cap hit) and Brandon Dubinsky ($1.85 million) for our comparable contracts. Mike Sauer is excluded from this because his two-year, $1.25 million per year deal was his third contract, not his second.
McDonagh and Stepan are the two that are more likely to receive the Cally-type deal, as they have the longer tenure and less question marks with them. By the time their deals are up, they will have played a full three years at the NHL level. Hagelin and MDZ will only have two years (approximately) of NHL service. Service time means something, especially when you are trying to predict if a player can continue on their current path of success.
If we have McDonagh and Stepan at $2.3 million cap hits, and Hagelin and MDZ at $1.85 million cap hits, that gives them a total of $8.3 million against the books. That’s $500k over their allotted $7.75 million. This is where the adjusted market comes in. The market fell by $10 million to $60 million, which is about a 14% drop. Unfortunately for these four, that 14% will come from them, as these are the guys not signed.
Using that 14% drop, McDonagh and Stepan will come in at a final number of $2.01 million a piece, and MDZ/Hagelin will come in at $1.62 million. That adjustment means they total $7.26 million against the cap, which is $500k under their $7.75 million allotment.
This isn’t an exact science, and there are still a lot of questions to be answered about the new CBA. The biggest question, aside from the cap ceiling, is whether or not bonuses can be used to reach the cap floor. If that’s the case, then the Rangers will have a lot of extra money to work with. Regardless, the Rangers can definitely keep all their players and get under that $60 million cap. It’s tough, but doable.