Successful teams need depth and the Rangers certainly have depth right now. What they also have is value for money and in a cap world when depth goes hand in hand with value for money you have yourself a winning record. Getting bang for your buck is something we’ve discussed ad nauseam on the Blog but it’s worth repeating.
Here’s a number that may surprise you. Only eight(!) teams have a smaller overall cap commitment than the Rangers this season – your deep pocketed Blueshirts check in with an overall $70,246,111 spend. When was the last time the Rangers were near the bottom of the league in overall spending? Leading the league in goals scored while having the 22nd overall cap hit is a great example of value for money in a hard cap league that forces General Managers to trade away talent to be financially compliant.
Offensively, the Rangers are currently the envy of the league. Right now it’s a nightly offensive onslaught from the Rangers yet no one, individual line is being relied upon too heavily. The roster is stacked with production, not just from the expected sources but from top to bottom and regardless of the cost of the player.
Sure there’s value to be had where you’d hope and expect to find it: Chris Kreider is making his new contract look a smart investment, Mats Zuccarello’s contract continues to be one of best contract’s in the entire NHL, Ryan McDonagh is playing to a Norris Trophy standard most nights and Mika Zibanejad is an excellent swap for Derick Brassard at close to half the cap cost.
Rick Nash’s re-emergence is of course encouraging for the Rangers overall ambitions too but he’s not blatant evidence of financial value. Nash is simply delivering on his contract (and his talent level). Focus for a moment now though on the players, the lesser lights if you were, who aren’t expected to be the main offensive producers and this is where you’ll really notice the smart moves made by Jeff Gorton.
Michael Grabner, Jesper Fast, Brandon Pirri and Pavel Buchnevich combine for a total cap hit of 4.65m. Together they have already amassed 29 points. They have 15 goals as a foursome while Grabner and Pirri have already combined to chip in with three game winners. Impressive numbers from four plays who don’t cost much two of whom weren’t wanted around the league this summer.
Grabner and Pirri (while they will surely slow down following torrid starts) are currently both on pace for 55+ points; in Grabner’s case it’s a 63-point pace. Meanwhile Buchnevich (in a predominantly fourth line role) is on pace for close to 40 points as a rookie. Fast himself is flirting with the 40-point barrier. As you can see, the Rangers are getting tremendous value from the depth as well as value from the top lines.
Elsewhere on the roster and other players have chipped in as well. Even if it’s in small doses it is yet more evidence of Gorton’s good work. Adam Clendening (600k) has two helpers in limited game time and has been sensible with the puck and Nick Holden, while admittedly wildly inconsistent, does still have 7 points already – 27th in league scoring among blueliners.
Is Holden a top four blueliner? Almost certainly not. However while giving the Rangers 20 minutes a night and chipping in some offense, does he represent value for money at a cost of 1.65m? I think so (go search some comparable player salaries across the league and then think twice about your opinion of Holden). He may not be Brian Leetch but at 1.65m a season he doesn’t need to be.
Meanwhile over on rookie street Brady Skjei is doing his best Keith Yandle impression with 8 assists already and he’s doing it on his entry level deal that’s paying him 925k. He’s playing over 16 minutes per game and his play has certainly helped quell the trade for Trouba chanting.
While Derek Stepan is playing solid hockey, his one goal has gone unnoticed because of all the offensive support he has around him. Mika Zibanejad’s bad puck luck and penchant for missing the net (although he’s playing mostly good hockey since joining the Rangers) has gone unnoticed because guys all around him are filling the net. Chris Kreider wasn’t missed when he was out of the line-up because guys stepped up. All of this has meant the Rangers have sprinted out to a 10-3 start and prompted fan base fantasies of deep playoff runs.
The Rangers have one of the deepest, yet cheapest rosters in the league. Who’d have thought you’d read that statement? Salary wise it’s a top heavy roster but Jeff Gorton has done a fine job in filling out his roster with cheap talent that’s performing well while Alain Vigneault is utilising the tools at his disposal better than he did at any stage last year. Ladies and gentlemen, the sensibly spending New York Rangers.
"The Rangers are getting great value from their roster",