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Mailbag: Game 4 importance; Brad Richards buyout; salary cap; CBJ/Pitt

Had three questions arrive via Twitter over the past few days, and since I had absolutely no idea what to write about, I figured I’d answer them in a post. Then I posted that I had no idea what to write about for this morning, and a few more questions came in. So….thank you guys for helping me with this one. Much appreciated.

Should still be bought out. (Photo: Rangers)

Should still be bought out. (Photo: Rangers)

Q: Should the Rangers still use their last amnesty buyout on Brad Richards, even if he is productive and helps them win a Cup (in a hypothetical situation)?

The answer here, without any hesitation, is yes. The problem with Richards isn’t his production (at the moment…but it’s declining). It isn’t his cap hit. Heck, it isn’t even his spot in the lineup. It’s the fact that his contract back-dives, and if he retires early then the Rangers are on the hook with one helluva penalty. For each year he retires early (contract is up in 2020), the Rangers will be hit with $5.6 million in dead cap space. Throw in his declining production, puck possession, and foot speed, and the Rangers will either be stuck with dead cap space or a $6.6 million healthy scratch in the next 2-3 years. It’s just not worth it.

Q: How important is Game Four, and to come home with a 3-1 series lead?

I feel like this one is a given. I would much rather be up 3-1 then tied 2-2 heading into Game Five. For the past few years, we’ve seen the Rangers fail to capitalize on opportunities to take two game leads, and it burned them each and every time. They need to take a stranglehold on this series. Letting it get to 2-2 for Game Five is playing with fire.

Q: Gary Bettman announced a salary cap around $70 million. How will that affect the Rangers?

I wrote a couple posts on projecting the 2014-2015 Rangers payroll, and there’s no reason to think that a $70 million cap will adversely affect the plans. In part two of that series, I have ballparked the Rangers at $5 million to fill the last three spots on the roster (2 F and 1 D, assuming 13F and 7D are already taken by league minimum guys). I would venture a guess that Jesper Fast –on an entry level deal– makes the team, which saves the Rangers a ton of money. So it’s roughly $4 million for 1 F and 1 D. Very doable, with a lot of wiggle room.

Q: Who would you rather face in the next round: Columbus or Pittsburgh?

Each team has their strengths and weaknesses. We’ve already seen how Marc-Andre Fleury can melt down in games over the past few seasons. He’s already started this year, gifting Columbus two goals in Game Four last night. The Pens aren’t good defensively and aren’t deep at all, but their top-end skill is downright frightening. Columbus doesn’t have that skill, but have incredible depth, solid goaltending, and are a tough team to play against. Both are middle of the road in puck possession and PDO. Gun to my head, I’d rather face the Penguins.

Q: How important is goaltending in the playoffs?

A hot goalie can carry a team incredibly far. J.S. Giguere carried the Ducks to a Stanley Cup Final in 2003, winning the Conn Smyth in the process. Henrik Lundqvist simply stole the series last year against Washington. But a bad goalie can cripple a team. The primary focus here is going to be on MAF this year, but bad goaltending has been a thorn in Philly’s side for as long as I can remember. It’s why the Rangers are always a threat in a series.

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40 Responses to “Mailbag: Game 4 importance; Brad Richards buyout; salary cap; CBJ/Pitt”

  1. Walt says:

    BR is on a slipery slope, his production has been falling since he arrived. How can anyone justify $6.6 mil for what 45 points?? Good luck Brad!!

    Winning game four gives Filhadelphia zero margin of error. I can’ see them beating us three in a row!

    With the buy out of BR being a given, we will have enough to get a real first line enter, and sign the new contracts for Zucc, Pouliot Carcillo, and Kreider. We do have some options from he farm, but I believe we will have enough to get the job done. I see Strahlman hitting the pavement, and moving on from here.

    Bluejackets, only because they may steal a series, but can they do that twice?? The Pens are too talented, and in spite of the Flower, I fear them, and that scoring machine. Also, last night, the Jackets didn’t get a shot on goal for some 10 minutes in the third, the Pens can play “D” when they have to.

    Goaltending wins cups, so now with this team in front of him, Hank, it’s up to you to bring us to the promised land!!!!!

    • Walt says:

      First line center!!!!!

      • mikeyyy says:

        Agreed if we can jettison Richards retain our depth down the middle and pick up a legit #1 center for the short term until Stepan is ready we will be contending for a cup next season.

        how many clubs can say that with zero legit 1st round picks in the last 10 years.

        • Chris A says:

          Marc Staal, Chris Kreider and JT Miller want to know why you don’t consider them “legit 1st round picks”

          You guys and Dave are both right about Richards though. If there was no cap I would let him stay until he fades away, but with a cap 45 pts a season at a $6.6M per year isn’t going to cut it.

          I think the best thing to do is sign a cheaper vet on a short contract to take Richards’ spot and allow an open competition between Miller/Lindberg/new signing for that slot.

          • Sylvain Lefebvre says:

            I think what he meant was that the Rangers haven’t had a top 5 pick since they absolutely stole Pavel Brendl at #4 in the 99 draft

  2. mikeyyy says:

    I’m more concerned how dirty this series will get after the phantom call on carcillo for the stick lift and then the no call on the head hit or discipline. This tells the flyers its open season on the rangers. Someone gets seriously hurt next game.

    on the no calls, lets just say the Comcast flyers generate enough revenue with NBC to let those kind of things slide.

    and with leetch getting the snub on the coaching job, lets just say the only justice in this series will be at the end of a fist

    • Walt says:

      The other day I jokingly said that the refs were on Ed Snyder’s payroll, that isn’t too far from the truth!!!!!

      The terd owns Comcast, NBC, and is a**hole buddy with Buttman!!

      • Dave says:

        There’s no conspiracy theory here. It’s just that the officiating is inconsistent, as it has been all regular season.

        • ttabasco13 says:

          Great write up as usual. As for the officiating.. well what can i say, they have been terrible all year and it has continued. The officiating crew for last game was the same guys who waved off callys goal up in Montreal. needless to say i wasnt surprised at how terrible they were last game

        • Centerman21 says:

          Dave I agree with you with officials. I don’t really think there’s a consperacy against the NYR. They are one of if not the NHL’s top TV Revenue teams. The NHL wants the Rangers to go far in the Playoffs. They make more money the longer the Rangers play.
          However I do notice that the Rangers have had an easy schedual and one of the least amount of travel in Miles and Back to Back games in consecutive nights. I always thought for this reason the people in Toronto try any time they can to make the call go against the Rangers. I look at a play where JT Miller scored on driving the net and it was called no goal. The same play happened to a Flyers player against the Rangers and it was allowed. That is just one example. They have tried everytime they can to screw the Rangers. Unless there is no way the call can go against the Rangers, they call it the other way.

        • paulronty says:

          The officiating has been crap for years. John Ashley, Bill Friday & Terry Gregson were all putrid. When I was a teen a Labatt beer salesman named Vern Buffey came to our restaurant. He also happened to be an NHL referee. My dad told him I was a Ranger fan & he chided me about this & told me I should be a Leaf fan. I told him that gave me a lot of confidence about his neutrality the next time he reffed a Rangers-Leaf game. True story.

          • Chris A says:

            The NHL is simply too fast for referees to call a game properly. There really is no solution for this. Maybe an off-ice 5th ref that acts as an eye in the sky and uses replay to dispute certain calls?

      • Tiki Tim says:

        Doesn’t matter who the Rangers play, they’ll always get cheated. Conspiracy fact, not theory. Anyone thinking of using the “league is more successful with a good NY team” shtick, please spare us. If that was the case, each league wouldn’t institute rules that are inherently designed to hamper NY teams.

        • Gary says:

          Pats lose to Jets last year in O/T on some b/s call on a lineman that no one ever heard of before. It was bizarre and it gift wrapped the win for the Jets.

          • Tiki Tim says:

            You must be a Patriots fan. I’m not a Jets fan. That was a new rule last year.

            Let’s examine the 2 situations.

            Meaningless regular season game between Jets and Patriots because the Patriots have the AFC East locked up every season.

            Playoff game. Tuck Rule, led to a Super Bowl*.

            • Gary says:

              You could tell? ;-) Looking forward to seeing me some Revis this year.

              Ah, the tuck rule. Good point. But my point was in refuting the notion that refs are against NY teams. Not that they did Brady a favor in ’01.

  3. Tiki Tim says:

    In the case of Richie retiring early, the cap recapture penalty is the highest in the final 3 seasons of his contract. It’s really not that big of a deal with a rising salary cap. The cap could be in excess of $80 million in 5 years.

    Should Richie be amnestied? Yes.

    Will he? I don’t think he will be.

    • paulronty says:

      The assumption made here is that he will or might retire early. There is no basis for that assumption so recapture may be irrelevant. Over the length of his contract there will be an infusion of low cost youth so the cap hit should not be an issue.

  4. Walt says:

    Yesterday, I opened up a can of worms about Nash. I read this today, and it’s the way I feel. Now read it, have fun giving me all the thumbs down, and I’ll make Scully happy by making his “Hater” list!!!!!

    Walt: Please put the link in the comments, not the full article. Thanks, Dave

    • Gary says:

      What does Nash have to do with the ghosts of 1994? Anyway, he’s the most targeted player on the team and he opens it up for others. He’s occupying the best on the opposition and every once in a while bulling his way into the slot. Nash is a force, but other teams have people to try to neutralize that force. But that takes away from other areas. I’ll take a point a game Nash (even if it’s mostly assists) in the PO’s any day.

    • Dave says:

      Don’t copy/paste full posts here please. Link to the article.

    • paulronty says:

      Sorry Walt fellow oldtimer but Nash is playing very well. You are wrong on this one though it pains me to say it.

  5. Gary says:

    But I do miss Dubie greatly. Just had to add that in. Dubie, Artie and Prust were 3 of my favorites. Just now coming to appreciate Nash though. Keep an eye on him.

  6. Tiki Tim says:

    Refereeing is bad, in general. But they’re also biased. The two are not mutually exclusive.

  7. Centerman21 says:

    I love Ritchie and he’s such a good person that it hurts to have to Buy Him out of NY after 3 short years. My question here is something one of the “Star” NHL reporters like Dredger or like him said in a Tweet. The Original tweet said the NYR couldn’t afford to wait and see if he retires early and get hit with Cap Recapture Penalties. (I’m Paraphrasing here a bit) The person (Who’s name escapes me right now) sent a tweet in response in all Caps saying this. LTIR! Can’t the Rangers avoid penalties to the cap by placing him on LTIR if he got hurt and felt he’d never play again. Kind of like situation Pronger is in now.

    • Chris A says:

      Not an awful idea, but what if Richards is awful in 2 years. He will only be 35. You really think he will simply do the Rangers a solid and just sit on LTIR with a phantom injury for four years?

      Better to just get out from that albatross of a deal. There are already long term commitments to Hank and Nash, if the Rangers can avoid a third in Richards they have to take that opportunity.

  8. AD says:

    - Richards needs to be bought out; if Sather was uncomfortable with a 29yr old Callahan at $6mm/6yrs, how could he be comfortable with a 34yr old Richards at $6+mm for another 6 years with full NMC/NTC? In 5v5 situations, Richards has the profile of a declining 3rd line forward

    – I think the Pens are an easier opponent for the NYR than Columbus

    – Jess Rubenstein article is spot-on. The Colorado Avalanche have had more success (defined as Stanley Cup finals & cups) than the Rangers since our last cup year in 1994…..’nuff said

    – as for Nash, with Stepan and MSL playing so well, the assists will continue. It’s the goals AV and Nash himself are looking for, even if some fans are not.

    • LFOD Bleeding Blue in NH says:

      As long as the goals are provided by Nash, whether or not they come of his stick or he helps make them happen, I think it’s fine.

      Remember, these guys are all on the same line…if one of them scores, the others can’t get the goal too. If Nash starts scoring the goals, MSL and Step won’t have the same production. So why does it matter which of them is scoring, as long as the line as a whole is scoring? Contribution does not mean solely Gs. It’s just a stat.

      • AD says:

        LFOD, I think if you take a broader view of our forwards unit, rather than view Nash within the context of one line, it might be helpful.

        Think of how much more dangerous our team would be if Nash is scoring goals the way he is expected to score goals; and, on another line, MSL is also putting up production. That would be two separate lines putting up high caliber offense.

        What I am trying to illustrate hear is how different this is, when 2 snipers are scoring separately, compared to just one, while the other is participating and assisting inthose goals.

        This is how the team was designed and structured to perform. MSL was not acquired for Nash to be feeding him the puck and getting assists. They were both to be performing their roles.

        Right now, Nash is not performing his primary role but tagging along with the performance of Stepan and MSL.

        This is the best I can describe it; I hope this helps understand why Nash getting assists on MSL and Stepan goals is not satisfactory.

  9. PAL says:

    I wonder if the problem with the refereeing is the fact that more than one zebra can call penalties: in the old days, when there was one referee only, you knew exactly what to expect because each referee had their own style; and if a referee wanted to ref a particular game differently, the teams would figure it out early and adjust.

    But 2 referees? There has to be a human element that causes vast inconsistencies; refs must disagree about how tightly to call a game; must be sensitive to stepping on each others toes; if the close referee lets something go, but the guy 50 feet away calls it, the first ref would have to consider it an insult, or at least irritating, at some visceral level – it’s just human nature.

  10. ranger17 says:

    My view on suspensions is the player that is suspended the team should player with a roster player short for the term of the suspension . If suspension is for 5 games team can only dress 17 skaters and 2 goalies for the same lenght as the suspension . I think coach would put chains on some of thier players if this was the case . I also think the owners would have a say on this also , but i don’t know how that would go with the players union

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      I like it…. the roster spot would be suspended along with the player. It is a creative solution which would, in theory, deter some border line behavior and make our game safer.

  11. Ray says:

    Lundqvist played well last year against Washington, but he did not steal the series. Yes, Lundqvist did steal game six, but Holtby stole game one. How did the Rangers win three of the other five? They scored four or more goals in each victory. The two close games were 4-3 affairs with an average number of shots on each side, Hank’s two worst games of the series. In the two overtime games, the Rangers were outplayed and Lundqvist was brilliant, but I don’t see how you steal a series by playing well in losing efforts.

    So far against Philadelphia, Lundqvist has done what he did against Washington last year. He can be outplayed (Holtby in game one, Emery in game two), but he hasn’t lost games with subpar performances as Holtby and Emery have done.

    From 2009 to present, the Rangers have won every playoff game in which they scored four or more goals and lost only three in which they scored three (none last year, one in 2012).

    The Rangers will go as far as their skaters carry them. Teams with lesser goalies may not.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      When your team is down 3 games to 2 in a playoff series and a goalie does not surrender another single, solitary goal in game 6 and 7, both of which are elimination games, it can be said that he stole a series.

      Might not be in the traditional sense that you’re thinking- when a goalie single-handedly steals a series with minimal goal support…and to some extent, I agree. BUT when it came to crunch time, Lundy shut the door and it should be remembered as such.

      • Chris A says:

        We’re talking semantics now, but steal implies that the team wasn’t worthy of winning the series.

        Saying Hank won that series for the Rangers by shutting out Washington for the final 140 minutes or so of the series might sound better.

      • Ray says:

        No, it shouldn’t be remembered as such. When you say that a goaltender steals a series, you are saying that the rest of the team did not deserve to win. You are saying Washington was the better team, but Lundqvist was just too good. That is a disrespect that the Rangers do not deserve.

        The reality is that the Rangers scored four or more goals in three games and outplayed Washington in a fourth (game one). They earned their triumph. The only reason Hank’s game six heroics were necessary was that Holtby outplayed him in the first game. Game 7 (5-0) doesn’t count.

  12. Spozo says:

    Anyone like the idea of throwing the coach out too if a player receives a match penalty? This would be just like in baseball where the manager is ejected if a pitcher is ejected for throwing at a batter. I think this would certainly lower the amount of hits to the head and boarding penalties.