Happy Friday, BSB community! A couple months back, we posed a contest to our readers to come up with a working offseason plan that would help bring our beloved Blueshirts back to contention this season. If you missed the specific ground rules they can be found right here.
Long story short, you submit specifics of an offseason strategy, the esteemed writers of Blue Seat Blogs chose the top 3 submissions, and then you, our beloved community, get to chose your favorites. Past winners include notable commentators TommyT and Hatrick Swayze. After doing this for a couple years, we have come to understand what it takes for a submission to work as a finalist. Unfortunately, this year, only two submissions were really of the depth and quality necessary to take home that crown.
With that said, below is our first submission. I’m going to run our second submission at 10am, and at noon, the voting opens. May the best submission win!
Without further delay, here is submission #1:
Hello, BSB. This winning offseason plan offers (1) organization of thought through a clear roadmap and (2) creativity on the topic of expansion.
This summer, the Rangers are going to “fix the D” in a big way. The roadmap to the offseason is as follows:
- first, implement a five-step plan to address the defense,
- second, sign our RFAs, and
- third, use free agency to fill holes in the forward corps that emerge.
- Fixing the D
Step 1 – Use the expansion draft to dump salary and a body.
Step 2 – Reluctantly trade a forward for a defenseman to play on the top pairing.
Step 3 – Sign a UFA to play in our top 4.
Step 4 – Buyout a twin.
Step 5 – Sign a defenseman to compete with our prospects for the bottom spot.
Step 1 – Expansion draft strategy
Navigating expansion is the centerpiece of the offseason plan. We must be creative to get out from under the cap predicament in which we find ourselves on the blueline. We are going to aggressively use picks to bribe the Vegas Golden Knights into taking some unwanted salary and a defenseman whose best days are behind him. In the end, VGK will end up with Kevin Klein, but I am also angling to get them to take some Marc Staal cap hit. Here’s how:
- The NMC. Marc Staal is going to hear some unfiltered truths from the organization… “Marc, you’re going to take a diminished role. It will be clear to you, and it will be clear to the coaching staff. It is going to go down like this. You are going to waive your NMC for purposes of the expansion draft, but we are going to honor the commitment we made to you. You will be a Ranger for the remainder of your contract. Vegas will select you in the draft, but we are pre-arranging a trade that sends you right back to New York. You are going to cooperate because it is good for the New York Rangers, your team for the next 4 years.”
- The Selection. By paying-up for this Marc Staal arrangement, we don’t have to worry about whom to protect. Vegas selects Marc Staal from NYR.
- The Trade. Immediately following the draft, VGK trade Marc Staal, retaining 50% of salary, for Kevin Klein plus a package of picks from NYR.
- The Price. It is expensive, but this is our chance to fix the past – thank you, Mr. Sather. VGK want futures to build going forward (and they can turn Kevin Klein into another pick if they so choose). I am sending our 2nd & 5th in 2018 and our 3rd & 6th in 2019. I am headed upstairs to ask my boss for several million dollars upfront to give to VGK in the package to actually pay the retained salary (but the Dolans are swimming in cash and laying out some money upfront to pay what we are going to owe Marc anyway is just timing). We are killing three birds with one stone here – Marc Staal salary, Kevin Klein, and protecting Fast, Lindberg, and Raanta from being poached from us.
If I can’t swing the Marc Staal coup, my fallback is just to bribe VGK with a pick or two to take Kevin Klein outright. However, I really want to use the opportunity of expansion to clear part of Staal’s cap hit.
Step 2 – Trade a forward for a D
I don’t think Kevin Shattenkirk is the answer on the top pair, so I am going to bite the bullet and part with a forward that I really want to keep. Nash isn’t going to get it done, so it is either Stepan or Miller. I want to do this right, so Jacob Trouba is my man even though I think I can swing Stepan for Justin Faulk. I’m just not sold on my center depth without Stepan, even after looking over the short-term options in free agency (is Joe Thornton healthy and would he take a 1-yr deal to come to NY; isn’t Nick Bonino going to land himself a long-term deal?). I really love JT Miller’s game, and I am going to miss watching him on the ice. Anyway, I’m not sure I can keep both him and Hayes longer term, and I’d rather invest in the centerman than the wing.
In exchange for Trouba, I am sending to WPG Miller, Nick Holden, and a prospect. I hope I can get away with Kovacs, Tambellini, or Stromwall. However, if the extra piece is Graves, I do it as long as I can get a 3rd round pick coming back.
Step 3 – Sign a UFA
I’ve passed on Shattenkirk and am really just debating between re-signing Brendan Smith or settling for Cody Franson. Smith’s acquisition expense is a sunk cost, so I don’t feel like I have to have him. Although I’m freeing up enough cap space to spend, this is really about term. I think Franson will come cheaper but, more importantly, is likely to take a shorter deal. I sign Franson for 3 years at an annual cap hit of $3.5 million.
Step 4 – Buy-out a twin
I’ve dealt with Marc Staal, whose buyout is much uglier than Dan Girardi’s. I’m working hard to see if the brain trust in Toronto will take Girardi for more-or-less nothing. I am hoping he will waive to play close to home on a team on the rise that needs some experience on the back-end. The problem is I know I am going to have to retain salary, and I still have to work through the NMC. I am coming to the realization that it isn’t happening. I’m going for the buyout. Good luck, Dan.
Step 5 – Sign a defenseman
I’ve sent Holden packing already, so I don’t have to worry about him playing with Staal on the bottom pair. Kampfer may have the inside track for the #6 spot, but I don’t count out Bereglazov, a LHD, who probably makes the club. For depth, I’d love to re-sign Clendening, but my coach won’t play him. I’m looking at the likes of Tom Gilbert or Nate Prosser (both RHD) for a 1-year deal to compete for one of the last spots on the roster. Gilbert got stuck behind a logjam of defensemen in Washington after not catching on in LA (and having gone down with a knee injury while with the Habs in 2016). I can throw $1 million at him.
- Sign our RFAs
- Mika Zibanejad – a huge priority, 5 years at $5.5 million per
- Oscar Lindberg – 2 years at $1 million per, a pretty big raise
- Jesper Fast – 2 years at $1.25 million per
- Matt Puempel – Can give him his qualifying offer, but he is looking at Hartford and going through waivers to get there.
- Brandon Pirri – See what, if anything we can get for his rights. Maybe include him in the VGK package to save on a pick.
III. UFA Forward to plug the hole
I created a hole at wing by trading away Miller, and the team needs a 13th forward.
Let’s deal with the spare part first. I can bring in a bunch of guys to compete for the spot against prospects like Nieves or Tambellini. I prefer someone who can play center. I’ll keep my eye on Winnik, Boyle, and Cullen, but the names I am likely to get are Andrew Desjardins, Brad Malone, John Mitchell, Steve Ott, Chris VandeVelde, and our old friend Dominic Moore. (Hey, Steve Ott > Tanner Glass, right?) If we stick to a budget here of about $1 million, things get interesting.
With our assumed increase in the cap and all the work done to clear space (shipping out Klein and Holden, dumping half of Staal’s salary in expansion, and buying out Girardi), we find ourselves with a lot of room – like Rick Nash type cap hit room. The caveat is here that I don’t want to go long-term. I am looking for a mercenary. The guy I want is Radulov. He delivered for MTL this past year, and at age 30, he is not going to get the dollars he wants in a long-term deal. I play to his ego and try to get him to bite on an eye-popping 1-year contract for the Big Apple. Is there another contender that can afford this type of offer? We now have the space for next year, and I am willing to invest in cultivating our Russian prospects while upgrading our top line in the short-term. I offer $8 million for the one year.
I may not be able to land Radulov, and I won’t know until lots of the other moves are done. If I can’t, I find another decent piece (maybe Justin Williams or Patrick Marleau) to take Miller’s spot, but it absolutely has to be a short-term deal. Otherwise, I live with a downgrade upfront and spend elsewhere.
I don’t have much to say on the entry draft other than take the best available player. We could look to trade down out of the 1st (we stink at 1st’s) to get multiple picks since we don’t pick again until Florida’s 4th from the trade for Yandle’s rights.
My 23-man opening day target roster is below. Total cap hit = $75,648,611.
That’s it… now, let’s get us a parade down Broadway! There is no way off the path of mortgaging the future for the present, so we need to win it soon. I’d much prefer this year because I’ve got my work cut out for me next year with 4 critical RFA signings and 4 important UFAs coming off the books to be replaced. Don’t worry, I’ve thought ahead and will have over $16 million in space freeing up to manage through. But that’s getting into 2018’s offseason plan – see you again then!