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The offseason cap and team needs/surpluses

Who's in Ranger blue next season? (Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports)

Who’s in Ranger blue next season? (Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports)

With the offseason in full swing, the Rangers brass is going to look for ways to improve the team and fill holes by dealing from strengths. At the moment, the Rangers currently have 17 players signed for next season (10 F, 5 D, 2 G) at $50.9 million in cap space. That leaves them around $13.4 million to bridge the gap with three forwards and two defensemen. Among those that will be included are RFAs Fs Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, and Mats Zuccarello; and RFA D Ryan McDonagh.

The RFAs are the biggest concern, but after that the Rangers are going to need to address their two most glaring needs: Scoring depth and a puck moving defenseman. The Rangers were absolutely inept on the powerplay, and these two needs played directly into that. While those are the two most glaring needs, the Rangers find themselves in the same position as last year: Owning a dearth of depth forwards from which they can deal.

Prospects J.T. Miller, Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast, Christian Thomas, and Ryan Bourque not withstanding, the Rangers –in an ideal depth situation– have five guys (Boyle, Pyatt, Asham, Dorsett, Powe) best suited for bottom-six play currently under contract or as RFAs, and another two (Brassard, Hagelin) that can play second line minutes, but are really best served as third line players to take advantage of match ups.

The problem is that the Rangers have very few established top-six players, or at least players that are best served playing in a top-six role. In that group you can include Nash, Richards (he hasn’t been bought out yet, so he still counts), Callahan, and Stepan. Kreider is a wild card, and while he has unreal potential, he has yet to be consistent enough to warrant a designation of “top-six forward.” Scoring depth –particularly a top-six forward– is a clear need for this team. A Richards buyout exacerbates this need.

On the blue line, it was clear the Rangers did not have the depth to deal with injuries to any of their top-six guys. Once Marc Staal and Anton Stralman went down long-term, the Rangers were overmatched. The acquisition of John Moore helped tremendously, but when injuries force you into a decision between Roman Hamrlik and Matt Gilroy (Steve Eminger was already playing), then there is a huge depth problem. The powerplay issue is a known one, and with the Rangers in need of a solution on the blue line, addressing the need for a puck mover coincides with this.

There aren’t many attractive names on the free agent market, however. Slats and company may need to look to the trade market and deal from a strength to address the needs of a team that is in win-now mode, and has their window closing with every day that Henrik Lundqvist ages.

With so many prospects knocking at the door, the Rangers have some wiggle room with their bottom six to swing a deal using their depth. It won’t be on the scale of Rick Nash, one that cost them two key roster players, but it will be on a scale that will still cost them one roster player. It’s tough to really guess who the odd man out would be without a coach, but in a Torts system, Pyatt’s foot speed –or lack thereof– makes him the obvious candidate. But that was last week. For now it’s really a toss-up depending on trade partner and team need.

It would behoove Slats and company to keep the aforementioned prospects in Hartford blue, as we’ve seen how useful prospects can be in the playoffs as injury replacements (see: Krug, Torey). That said, the Rangers have a good number of prospects with some decent trade value, and if the new coaching staff doesn’t see a fit under their system, you may see some of them moved along to fill these holes. It’s not ideal, but it is an option.

The Rangers we saw this season were a flawed team. They had some guys faking it as top-six forwards, and they had a clear hole on defense. With the core pieces set, it is up to Slats and company to fill these holes and build a team capable of winning a Cup. It’s been a long post-lockout road (first lockout), but we are closer than you might think.

49 Responses to “The offseason cap and team needs/surpluses”

  1. neal says:

    Suit, I do not agree on the defensemen depth. Several years back, the Rangers had Rozival and Malik as their top 2 defensemen, with hank in goal and they did very well. You can’t account/ allow for 2 or 3 defensemen to go down and have enough guys to fill in, with out having some drop off.

    • Dave says:

      I wrote this, not Suit ;)

      You can plan for these types of injuries. The Rangers are already attempting to do so with Connor Allen (undrafted UFA). It may not be “planning” with NHL-ready depth, but you can still have some kids who are ahead of the development curve ready.

  2. ranger17 says:

    If we can get a top 6 forward , Cally Brassard and Hags would make an ideal 3rd line . If BR can bounce back we could be looking for more bottom 6 help. Lots o0f if’s with this team going into next year
    Top 6
    Nash
    Kreider
    Stepan
    Zucc
    Hags
    Cally
    Clowe maybe with Nash and Step
    Brassard
    BR
    How would a package of MDZ C Thomas and one more pc from Hartford to the Peg for bi8g Buff

    • Dave says:

      I don’t see how trading MDZ makes the team stronger when they need to address defensive depth. But they do need a top-six forward badly.

    • Mike W says:

      There is a 0.00% chance that BR is on the Rangers next year.

  3. prole30 says:

    Richards was supposed to make the PP go as he did in Tampa and Dallas. He couldn’t even make the fourth line go at the end. Can he bounce back? I hope Sather has the experts who can tell him. The Rangers in the past brought in Ozolinsh and Backman at the trade deadline at D and they were terrible; Morris was okay. All the final four have depth at both D and F which the Rangers don’t. Henrik and Nash can carry them in the regular season but to win the cup you need depth and last-minute grabs don’t always work as in the case of the Pens although it did for Carolina.

  4. Walt says:

    Suit

    You failed to mention other options out there, free agents. Granted, they may be a bit higher on the pay scale, but look at what you can do with the likes of a Clarckson, Bickel, and letting Clowe walk. These two players are younger, quicker, can skate, score, and drop the gloves. In Clowes case, the train has left the platform, and would also cost us a 2nd round pick, whick we can ill afford to lose.

    The other options that should be considered is how good are palyers like JT Miller, Lindberg, McIlrath? Because we have an 82 game schedule to work with, and hopefully a coach that is willing to give kids enough room to make mistakes, without nailing their pants to a bench, we may be sitting prettier than we think.

    Then the only real need would be a puck carring d-man, and I mentioned way back big Buff. Trade MDZ, the Thomas kid, and possibly another prospect for Buff. We would only need to rid ourselves of the dump truck Pyatt. Hell trade him off for a 100th round draft pick, anything but get rid of him!

    • Dave says:

      Why does everyone think Suit wrote this?

      • Hatrick Swayze says:

        Haha, too funny.

        Solid article Dave. We would probably be better served dealing from strength (depth forward) in order to acquire a roster player but do you think Sather may have something up his sleeve to get us a top 60 draft pick? Top 30?

        If we did go that route, what do you think it would cost. I doubt Pyatt would get us anything better than a 4th round pick. Think Boyle could get us into the second round? I’d be opposed to moving him, but curious as to what you think the cost of doing business may be..

        • Dave says:

          I doubt they get into the first round, but they can definitely get into the second round with their three thirds.

      • Walt says:

        Dave
        Sorry, the first post was addressed to Suit, so I assumed he did. My bad!

      • Joe says:

        Lol…..

  5. Randy says:

    I think to bring in Buff we would need to offer more than MDZ and two prospects. As appealing as Buff is, I don’t think we need to bring in another big name player who is close to turning 30. While the free agent market this offseason is not appealing in the sense that there aren’t too many big names out there, I think that bodes well for the Rangers and the fans because we can be sure we won’t be making any bonehead signings. I think if we can pick up just one of either Bickell, Clarkson, MacArthur, or Bozak, that would fill an immediate hole in our scoring and grit, and depth. Bickell has been an absolute beast in these playoffs, Bozak has scoring talent and is killer on faceoffs, MacArthur has speed and a shot (perfect 3rd liner), and we all know how much of a pest Clarkson is. Rather than trading the farm for a big name like Byfuglien, I’d like to see the Rangers have a successful, quiet offseason and pick up the likes of one of those four guys.

    • Randy says:

      Along with that, can we please sign a depth defenseman who can skate and hit so we never have to see Roman Hamrlik ever again?

    • Dave says:

      Out of all those guys, only Bozak really fits what we may need, as he can potentially be a second line center.

      • Randy says:

        I agree, if we could pick him up that would make a tremendous difference in our lineup down the middle as we could run Stepan-Brass-Bozak-Boyle. That is the type of depth we need. Bozak is also a great kid from University of Denver and I don’t think he has come close to his potential yet. Plus, the competition between Bozak and Brassard for the 2nd line spot would only make both of them reach their potential that much faster, and it would give Miller 3 solid guys to watch and learn from.

        Bozak’s last contract I believe was 2 years/3 mil, so I would expect he would be asking for a raise if he is going to be convinced to leave Toronto.

        Dave, how much cap space would we be able to designate towards signing a guy like him? I’d guess a 2 or 3 year contract would be ideal

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      +1

      I’d love to get our hands on Bozak.

  6. Steve says:

    hrivik….next year’s surprise

  7. Seahorse says:

    We have no cap space to sign anyone. The estimate I put up the other day was at about 2.8 mil after a Richards buyout and rfa renewals and clowe staying. A bozak or clarkson or bickell will likely cost more than clowe and isnt guaranteed to come here. 30 goal scorers that are huge and check are wanted men in the off-season. stick with clowe

    • Dave says:

      False.

      http://www.capgeek.com/rangers

      Plenty of cap room.

      • Seahorse says:

        That’s right now I’m talking post all the rfa signings and resigning clowe there will be about 3 mil left

        • Dave says:

          What are your estimates for the contract renewals? Keep in mind they are all on 2nd contracts and Stepan isn’t arbitration eligible.

          • Seahorse says:

            I gave step and mcd 4.5 for a first line center and firdt pair d man. Hags 3 which n s probably generous clowe 3 zucc 2 and I think that was it. They see probably a but high altogether but I was being conservative

            • Dave says:

              I’d look at Hags getting a contract like Dubi’s 2nd ($1.85m), Step getting a contract like Cally’s 2nd ($2.25m), and McD getting a Staal contract (~$4m). Zucc probably gets a Dubi contract too ($1.85m).

              My reasoning here is that I’m using Slats’ history with 2nd contracts. McD and Hags are arbitration eligible, so that may move things up $1m each.

              Those four make it ~$10m, give or take (max is ~$12m). Clowe is a wild card as he’s a UFA.

              If all 4 get $10m, then they have cap space for Clowe or a UFA. If not, it’ll be interesting to see what’s done if they don’t buyout Richards.

              If they do buyout BR, then they have oodles of room.

  8. Bird says:

    Suit – this post is better than anything Dave has ever written.

  9. Erixon20 says:

    Bozak would be great signing as a 3rd line C. Put JT Miller and Hags on his wings. Regarding the MDZ+ for Big Buff….love it. MDZ is about to be 23 and has played a lot of hockey….in 3 yrs he should be absolutely great. That said, you have to give to get. Imagine our D next year:

    Staal – Big Buff (PP QB)
    MacD – Girardi
    Moore – Stralman
    #7 Eminger

    That’s hot.

    • Dave says:

      So you want to address defensive depth by moving a defenseman that can skate for a defenseman who can’t stay under 250 lbs and can’t skate?

      • Erixon20 says:

        Yes. All of our D are very similiar, though some can skate better than others. They are all of the “well-rounded” variety, which is good, but I think you need a D with specialists….crease clearer, PP qb, shutdown pair, etc. I like MDZ and think he has a really high ceiling, but he’s the odd man out for now – for Hank’s window. Also, he is a valuable chip in a trade. Bringing in Buff to play with Staal puts Mac and Girardi on the 2nd pair…and how good is your D if those 2 are your second pair? Buff is huge and can shoot which compliments Staal’s tremendous all around game. Mac and Girardi are shutdown pair with some O (as Mac’s confidence grows). Moore can rush the puck and Stralman is a luxury as a 6th. Buff and Moore QB the PP. Emi as #7 with a callup or 2 as needed. Elite D I think.

  10. joe719 says:

    Don’t be so sure that Richards will be bought out this year. A new coach does not want to take over a team without a #1 center. Granted, Richards has been anything but a true #1 center the last 2 years, but where are the options? They may give him 1 more year to prove he isn’t done. A mistake, IMO, but they might just do it. And why is everybody keen to include Thomas in a deal? What makes you think anyone would want him? If he was showing anything, they would have called him up at some point during the Season. The only way they get value back in a trade is to include roster players, and bona fide prospects such as Boyle, MDZ, Kreider, Fasth, St. Croix etc. I cant see hem giving up on Kreider yet, and Fasth and St. Croix are unknown quantities. That leaves roster players such as Boyle, MDZ,Pyatt, Dorsett, Powe Asham, Gilroy,(not even sure if some of these guys are UFAS). Unless they sweeten the pot with draft choices and the aforementioned prospects, I don’t see any real All-Stars coming back in any trade. Its gonna be a tough question to figure out.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Not that it’s worth anything but he was in the line up earlier this year for our first away game in Montreal- the game where Pacioretty left his feet and put McDonagh into the boards from behind.

      That said, I happened to be there and can confirm that Thomas was pretty invisible…

      • joe719 says:

        Was that one of Torts ‘1 and done ” jobs?

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          I think it was due to injuries. Maybe one of Asham’s back spasm stints in conjunction with someone else going down with an injury? And Thomas came up as a replacement…. I honestly don’t remember the circumstances.

          Actually, funny coincidence… after that game I ran into Sam and Joe on the street (which was pretty cool) on my way to Ziggy’s, where John MacLean’s (former Devil player/coach) cousin bar-tends until it closed. After that I went back to the hotel room and ran into one of the hotel staff. It was he, on that night of February the 23rd, that he informed me, “Tort’s has lost the locker room” which he claimed to have heard from an inside source. I badgered him for a name, as I was pretty drunk, and he asked me if I heard of Christian Thomas. After I told him, “of course… he was pretty quiet tonight, though” he backed into the darkness but not before leaving me with that nugget of information. (I guess he didn’t appreciate my dry humor). I immediately wrote it off, but given all that has surfaced from the Torts fallout it is pretty interesting. Everyone from beat reporters to Dregger are claiming that he started to lose the locker room around February.

  11. Ray says:

    I think this top six-bottom six stuff is the wrong way to look at things. A forward is a forward. [Who saw Pascal Dupuis as a top six forward.] Artificial distinctions limit what you can do with your team. In fact, this was a big problem with this year’s team.

    What are the true needs? A mix of forwards, some of which are relatively cheap. Forwards who can score – obviously we expect more from high priced players and less from players who serve other needs. (The 2013 Rangers accepted the notion that it was ok for some players to not score at all. Darroll Powe is not a top 12 forward!) Penalty killers. Some good defensive players. Some forwards good on the boards, a couple who will stand in front of the net.

    Brandon Dubinsky had to go because he made too much money for a bottom six forward. Well, guess what, using present salary dollar for dollar, Dubinsky had more PPG than Nash in each of the last four seasons. Two Dubinskys cost less than Nash + Pyatt and provide more offense (and more other stuff).

    As an aside, I’d like Messier as coach because I think he is most likely to transform Nash into the great player he can be (but is not now).

    • joe719 says:

      Nash IS a great player who played on lines with guys that don’t come near his talent. Surround him with someone who can actually set up plays for him and we’ll see what he can really do.

  12. Jake Silver says:

    Why do people include Clowe in our plans? I know, he is a big guy, gritty, etc., and has had success in the past. BUT that’s in the past, people. He is now 30+, made 3.4 million last contract and isn’t worth anything like that again, but he’ll want something close. He scored TWO GOALS last season, that’s two goals total even before he had two concussions in two weeks. And he’ll cost us a second rounder in a deep draft. Makes no sense to keep him.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      The 2nd rounder we would give up if we sign him would be for next years draft (2014). It becomes a 2014 5th if Clowe doesn’t sign with us.

      We gave SJ our 2013 2nd and 3rd round picks to acquire Clow.

  13. ranger17 says:

    Think if Pens get swept Baylsma might be available to coach for us next year

  14. ranger17 says:

    Could Baylsmar be avai8lable if the Pens are swept

  15. Mikeyyy says:

    I think the “lack of depth” was a poor excuse this season.

    With the right coach all the things mentioned go away.

  16. tpetrillo says:

    Why is Brassard being considered a third liner? If he can stay healthy, I expect him to be a big factor moving forward like he was in the short period of time he spent playing here this season. And maybe Moore will blossom into our powerplay quarterback. He like’s to fire pucks from the blue line and can actually hit the net (delzotto).

  17. Mac Johnson says:

    Michael….Gilroy should be a 4th line forward not JT Miller….BU forced him to play D…he is a smart skills player NYRangers should have made this move the secondtime around…my guess as a LI boy the NYI are suppossed to sign him. Does it get them to win cup no…but the overpriced players that the NYR has signed forces too high tix prices for me.

  18. John says:

    Put Callahan with Miller and Kreider. Worked well when Torts first did it. Also resign Close. Or Ryan Malone if bought. Need beef in front of the net.