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Priorities for free agency

July 14, 2014, by

Not getting poached.

After a week in Aruba (side note: awesome trip), I have noticed that the Rangers have not signed their RFAs yet (three filed for arbitration), and there appears to be a bit of a panic about this. It’s not a huge panic, the way there was over Derek Stepan a few years back, but there is still a sense of unease that the Rangers will have one of their RFAs poached, and that the priorities of management should be to get the kids under contract.

Unless there is a legitimate concern that an offer sheet could come (i.e.: Ryan McDonagh last year), then RFAs are never high on the priority list in the beginning of July (or end of June). The reason here is that offer sheets are incredibly rare (due to multiple reasons), so teams focus on filling the holes they can’t fill internally via the UFA market. Time is of the essence in the UFA market. Time is on their side for RFAs.

So why the wait now, that UFA signings are pretty much over?

Three Rangers filed for arbitration: Chris Kreider (7/23), Mats Zuccarello (7/25), and Derick Brassard (7/28). Once the players filed for arbitration, they are protected from offer sheets. With the arbitration dates coming up in the near future, these are the next priorities for the club. I’d expect that all three sign before their arbitration hearings, as is customary with Glen Sather and his arbitration eligible RFAs.

After the arbitration-eligible RFAs are locked up, attention then shifts to John Moore, who is the only non-arbitration RFA on the club. The wait here is pretty easy to figure out: His deal doesn’t have a “must-sign” date at the end of the month. Locking him up to a new deal can wait until August.

It’s worth noting that just because priorities are set, it doesn’t mean that Slats is working in that particular order. It’s not a waterfall type of list, where one thing gets done, followed by another. It’s just a matter of setting priorities, recognizing deadlines, but not neglecting other areas that need addressing. This is what we all do at work on a regular basis.

There’s no need to panic that the RFAs aren’t signed yet, or that RFAs don’t usually get signed until July or August. This is par for the course for NHL GMs, despite what the NHL video games teach us. Luckily, the Rangers don’t have a Ryan McDonagh caliber of player as an RFA this year (star potential without arbitration rights), so there is no immediate rush to get an RFA signed. The key guys will get signed.

Categories : Business of Hockey


  1. TxRanger says:

    Hopefully we can avoid some Zherdev type fiasco with these guys.

  2. Johnny Red says:

    This is the way it is for sure, however let me make a point here. The N.H.L. players rep knew exactly what he was doing. When the cap floor was set it forces teams to over pay below average players, and now the domino effect. 4th line players use to make under a million, now it’s almost 2 million. The key is to draft well so the young kids can give you a few years at a cheap price. So much for the salary cap controlling salaries!!!

    • Tim B says:

      Why cant they just have a payroll like MLB? Screw the cap. It makes life easier

      • Dave says:

        Because then the Rangers give $45 million to Bobby Holik and $36 million to Darius Kasparaitis.

    • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

      That’s so true. $2 mil is still above the high end 4th liners. Brian Boyle got $2 mil because of all the work he puts in including 50% of Tampa Bay’s average PKTOI like he did in NY for the last few years. His $1.7 was high for a 4th liner. However, like you said bottom line players used to get the league minimum or just over. Now tho with how the game is changing 4th line players are expected to play hockey and possess the puck or fight like hell to get it back when the opposition has it. I just hope that we get something from our Entry Level Contracts this season. In a cap world a good team needs to have 1 or 2 kids graduate to full time NHL players. Gordie Clark said the Rangers expect Miller to play every day. Mueller is on a 1 way deal so he has to make the team or go on waivers. He’s a much needed right handed Centerman that plays all 3 forward positions. Jesper Fast is also a righty and might be the most complete NHL prospect the NYR have. He could play on the 3rd line and thrive there. Mueller would make a good 4th line RW. He may even get a look as the 2nd or 3rd pivot.
      I still think Sather is working on a trade which can come later in July or even sometime in August. The Nash Trade was announced in late July if I remember correctly the 23rd. I think we end up with Joe Thornton before the start of camp.

  3. Walt says:

    I just hope that the 3 players in question are treated fairly, given a nice raise that they all earned, and signed for multiple years.

    • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

      They all deserve raises for sure Walt. However, with the Cap set $2 mil lower than expected it hurts the Rangers options for depth players and UFA options. Even limits the trades we can make. The cheaper we can get those 3 signed for the more options Sather will have. Zuc is 25, I’d rather give him 5 years and $15-17 mil than 2 or 3 and $8-$12 million. Brassard deserves about $4 mil since as of right now he’s the 2nd Centerman. Or maybe they are Stalling with Brassard because they are working on a trade. Right now the Rangers would have to send a good roster player to make the cap space work. If Zuc & Brass are signed $2 mil cheaper together. It makes a difference if Sather has an ace up his sleeve which I’m sure he has at least a plan “B”. Kreider will get a 2 year bridge deal worth $4.2 mil in my estimation. He has much to prove before he gets the big bucks with that 230lb frame of his. Sather has to work on Zuccarello and get him as cheaply as possible.

      • Walt says:

        Sather never gives away the shop with his RFA, so he will be fair, and give them what they are worth. Now if we were tallking about UFA, then I’d be worried at the way he throws money around!!

  4. Lars says:

    You can’t sign every player to 4-5 year deals. You better save money for Stepan next summer or we are going to lose him. The only guy that deserves that is Brass. Zucc has played maybe 50 good games in the league. Is that worth 4-5-6 years. Not in my book.

    • TxRanger says:

      Kreider has out performed Brass, and deserves a lengthier contract. You forget Brassard was a top ten pick who has failed to live up to his potential. Zucc is a better player, and also deserves a longer deal than Brass.

  5. mikeyyy says:

    Each is worth 4 mil per year, on the open market.

    All 3 had great playoff performances.

    Why can’t they be on this team?

    Contracts to girardi, msl, Nash, eat into that.

    What are the costs, what are the benefits of keeping them.

    What price would we pay , not in dollars but player movement, to keep them on the roster.

    Move one 4 million plus player and we aren’t having this discussion.

    Then again, a few inches here and there this last year and we still aren’t having this discussion.

    But we are having this discussion.


  6. Bloomer says:

    Sign the RFAs to medium term contacts then use whatever cap space left and find a center. Peter Mueller is still out there, yes he is a wildcard but with some good wingers I think he thrive in the Big Apple.

  7. Lars says:

    Krieder is getting a bridge deal and no more!! Zucc has not performed long enough to get a long term deal. He has played maybe 50 decent NHL games in his career. I say 3 years 10.5 million.

  8. Frank Cerbone says:

    Miller is a left handed shot

    Figure Miller, Fasth, & Lindberg make team
    before/during season.

    Bourque is 5-8, 5-9 & can’t see St Louis, Zuccarello, & Bourque all on Ranger team at same time-or we are back to a “smurf line”.

    St Louis scored one goal in 19 gms during regular
    season & was a minus 8 in playoffs…I’m not impressed. He could be gone, if rangers struggle.

    Nash scoring 25 goals & making $7.5 until 2099 (sic) probably stays.

    Staal is a 2nd pairing defenseman & probably will be gone before season is out. Does Sather trade Staal & Talbot or lose them for nothing like Boyle, Stralman, & Pouliot?

    Losing 3 UFAs without compensation really hurt the Rangers. Only Sather can say he did that.

    If Staal leaves for a forward, REMEMBER Conner Allen is an RFA next season.

    Does Sather think that far ahead? Nope, never