The Montreal Canadiens have hired Rangers Assistant Coach Dan Lacroix to their coaching staff. Lacroix joined the Rangers last summer, watching games from the press box to give coach Alain Vigneault the “eye in the sky” view.
Last night, the Rangers re-signed their final arbitration eligible RFA, locking up Derick Brassard to a five-year deal at $5 million per season. This came a few days after locking up another key RFA, Mats Zuccarello to a one-year deal at $3.5 million. The reactions to the Brassard and Zuccarello contracts seem to be a bit mixed. Fans are clearly happy the players are back, but the contracts seem to be “backwards” as most have communicated.
It’s true, the Rangers took a calculated risk with Zuccarello, and a little less of a risk with Brassard. But let’s tackle the first question: Why did the Rangers give Brassard more than he was asking for in arbitration?
The answer here is simple: Arbitration for Brassard was a one-year request, and it would make him a UFA at the age of 27, where he could cash in big time from a team in need of a 2C/3C. The Rangers bought four of those UFA years, through the age of 31 (remember, Brass will be playing out his twenties in New York, not his thirties). That costs money. In fact, it only cost them $50,000 more per year for those seasons.
There are multiple reports that the Rangers have re-signed RFA center Derick Brassard to a five-year deal worth $25 million ($5 million cap hit). The deal will keep their second line center in blue until the age of 31. Brassard found chemistry with linemates Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot last season, putting up a line of 18-27-45 in 81 games and another 6-6-12 in 23 playoff games. Brassard has decent metrics, driving puck possession, but his WOWY (puck possession of teammates with/without Brass) show that he may have benefited from his linemates more than his linemates benefiting from him.
That said, $5 million is fair market value for Brassard, giving the Rangers a much needed 2C in his twenties. There really isn’t much to complain about on this deal.
Per Elliotte Friedman, RFA center Derick Brassard is requesting $4.95 million in arbitration, while the Rangers have countered with $3.825 million. The gap here is larger than the gap for Chris Kreider’s arbitration numbers, but that isn’t really a barometer. The Rangers have a history of getting their RFAs under contract before arbitration, and this one will hopefully be no different. The middle ground here is $4.5 million, which is right where I ballparked him.
While $4.5 million may seem a bit steep for Brassard, let’s remember that 2C’s are pulling in $5-$6 million lately. It may hurt this year, but the cap is expected to hit $75 million next year and $80 million the year after. When looking at those numbers, $4.5 million is a steal.
Now that the roster is finally taking shape, and the pieces are starting to fall into place, the main questions are about the line combinations and kids making the roster. Signings like Tanner Glass and Lee Stempniak add flexibility to a roster that was almost 100% reliant on kids making the roster, while all of the core pieces are returning for this season.
No matter which way you look at it, the Rangers have significant turnover this season. They lost Brad Richards, Benoit Pouliot, Brian Boyle, Derek Dorsett, and Dan Carcillo up front. They lost Anton Stralman on the blue line. But hey, 100% of their goalies will be back this year, so that’s a plus.
Derick Brassard and John Moore remain unsigned, but that’s not really a big concern. Both will be back and both will fit under the salary cap. Piggybacking off Suit’s line combinations post, here’s what we could be looking at on opening night:
The Rangers have re-signed Chris Kreider to a two-year bridge deal, worth $2.35 million in the first year and $2.6 million in the second year ($2.475 million cap hit). Kreider finally had his breakout season, putting up 17-20-37 in 66 games after being called up early in the season by the Rangers. Kreider also put up 5-8-13 in the playoffs after missing the first round and a half with a broken hand.
Kreider has been an interesting prospect. With elite talent, he has as high a ceiling as any forward prospect we’ve seen in New York since Tony Amonte. Problem is that he still hasn’t put it all together yet, which drove his cost down a bit. Last year was a solid year for the kid, but he needs to build on this past season and show he can consistently be a first line contributor to get the big bucks.
Sorry we are late here, but you know, life. Anyway, the Rangers have re-signed Mats Zuccarello to a one-year deal at $3.5 million, a bargain that really helps the cap-strapped Rangers. Zucc was the Rangers leading scorer this year on a one-year, $1.15 million deal, one of the best bargains in the NHL. There is some concern about the fact that this is a one-year deal, but it wouldn’t shock me if this is done in the mold of Henrik Lundqvist’s one-year deal way back when. If you remember, Hank signed a one-year deal at a discount before signing his six-year, $41.25 million deal in January.
The reason for this is that any extension signed in January would kick in for the following year, thus a bit of a loophole in the CBA. It allows the Rangers to have some flexibility with the cap while still giving Zucc a much deserved raise. It also allows Zucc –if I’m right here– to negotiate in January for the deal he would get as a UFA.
The Rangers national TV schedule (NBC/NBSCN) has been released for the 2014-2015 season, and the Rangers will play 14 nationally televised games. Of these, at least 10 are expected to be exclusive to NBC and NBCSN:
- 11/5: Red Wing 8PM NBCSN
- 11/19: Flyers 8PM NBCSN
- 11/18: @Flyers 1PM NBC
- 1/7: @Anaheim 10:30PM NBCSN
- 1/18: @Penguins 12:30PM NBC
- 1/29: Montreal 7PM NBCSN
- 2/4: Bruins 8PM NBCSN
- 2/28: Flyers 8PM NBC
- 3/4: @Red Wings 8PM NBCSN
- 3/8: @Chicago 7:30PM NBCSN
- 3/11: @Washington 8PM NBCSN
- 3/18: Chicago 8PM NBCSN
- 3/22: Anaheim 7:30PM NBCSN
- 3/24: LA 7PM NCSN
As the lone RFA from the Rangers that is not arbitration eligible, the John Moore contract renewal falls at the bottom of the to-do list for the Rangers. Moore’s contract will become more of a focus after Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard, and Mats Zuccarello all sign, but that doesn’t mean Moore is forgotten about. If you remember Glen Sather’s history, he waits until August to get his non-arbitration RFAs under contract.
As for Moore, he’s coming off his ELC that paid him $810,000 in salary, with an additional $125,000 available in performance bonuses. The 23-year-old defenseman played the majority of his time on the third pairing, splitting his time with Michael Del Zotto and Kevin Klein. Moore played his weak side before the Del Zotto/Klein swap, moving to his strong side once the right-handed Klein came on board. Moore also put up career highs in goals (4), assists (11), and points (15) this season while averaging between 11-13 minutes per game.
Per Elliotte Friedman, there is a $600k gap for the Rangers on a new Chris Kreider contract. Kreider’s initial ask was $2.8 million per year, with the Rangers opening at $1.9 million (since upped to $2.2 million). I initially ballparked Kreider at two-years, $2 million +/- $250k. At this point I’d assume he gets a deal similar to Carl Hagelin ($2.25 million over two years).
Kreider is set to have his arbitration meeting on Wednesday. Per CBA guidelines, both sides must submit their contract terms 48 hours prior to the meeting.