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