Photo: Michael Ivins, USA TODAY Sports
Derick Brassard is the third and final RFA that filed for arbitration this month (Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider). I’ve looked at both Kreider’s and Zuccarello’s next contracts already, and with arbitration dates coming up, it’s time to look at Brassard’s potential deal.
Brassard is an interesting case, if only because of his high salary and inconsistent production. Despite his inconsistencies, he was a part of the most consistent line and powerplay unit for the Rangers last year. Brass has been a 50-point pace guy in the regular season, and has actually been a nice playoff producer as well. He is just off his second contract, which paid him $3.7 million last year (his QO) at a cap hit of $3.2 million over hit over the four years of the contract. At 26 years old, the Rangers will be buying his UFA years.
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Per Darren Dreger, the Rangers are closing in on a deal with free agent winger Lee Stempniak on a one-year deal. The Rangers struck gold with Benoit Pouliot last season, and are looking to do so again with this signing. Stempniak and Pouliot had similar offensive output and #fancystats are comparable, so this seems like a decent fit for the Rangers. Oh, and he’s a right-handed shot, which is super.
Per Larry Brooks, the Rangers are targeting 2010 first round pick Kevin Hayes out of Boston College. Hayes may become a UFA if Chicago does not reach an agreement with the forward by August 15. Hayes is a big kid at 6’3″ and 205 lbs, and put up 27-38-65 in his final year with the Eagles, a whopping 40 point increase from his totals a year prior. In 2012, HP had this to say about Hayes:
The Good: Hayes is a pretty toolsy player. Aside from being 6’3”, he’s an above-average skater with notably above-average possession skills—he’s a very coordinated puck-handler with impressive vision. When he’s on his game, Hayes simply makes plays. For a player his size, Hayes’ offensive skills make him a very intriguing prospect.
The Bad: Hayes’ main concern is his consistency. His game to game effort wavers and he doesn’t play with a high level of energy. He could be a little more physical as well.
It’s worth noting that the Hawks might try to trade Hayes’ negotiating rights, much in the way Calgary traded Tim Erixon to the Rangers a few years back. Since Chicago would get a 2nd round pick as compensation for not signing Hayes, that is the minimum asking price in a trade.
Per Ryan Rishaug, the Rangers had interest in center Mike Ribeiro before he signed in Nashville yesterday. The Rangers are lacking center depth and Ribeiro likely would have slotted in at the 2C position. Per Rishaug, no state tax in Tennessee helped sway Ribeiro, who signed for $1.05 million for one year.
Going to need a big year from this guy.
Part One, Part Two
One of the major concerns for next year is the payroll. The Rangers have a lot of money tied into a few players, and the club lost a lot of key players in free agency. Another major factor was that the cap ceiling, initially projected to be $71 million, was announced to be just $69 million. Five key players departed via free agency, trade, or buyout (Anton Stralman, Benoit Pouliot, Brian Boyle, Derek Dorsett, Brad Richards), and another three appear all but gone (Justin Falk, Raphael Diaz, Dan Carcillo).
To counter that, the Rangers brought in Dan Boyle, Tanner Glass, and Mike Kostka. There were some other depth players brought in to help fill out the AHL roster as well (and yes, I’m counting Matt Lombardi as an AHL guy for now).
There are three types of players the Rangers are dealing with now: Those that are signed, those that have filed for arbitration, and those that are non-arbitration RFAs. Let’s break them down.
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It appears that the Rangers have signed forward Matt Lombardi to a two-year contract. Injuries really hurt Lombardi’s NHL career, but he put up 20-30-50 in 46 games in the Swiss league last season. His last “full” NHL season was in 2011-2012, when he put up 8-10-18 with the Toronto Maple Leafs. That was two years after his career high 19-34-53 with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2009-2010. His metrics are pretty terrible though.
We need to note the source on this (I haven’t heard of this source before today). I’d like to assume this is an AHL depth move, but it’s rare that AHL guys get more than one year.
Per Darren Dreger, ex-Rangers head coach Tom Renney has been named the President of Hockey Canada. Renney took over head coaching duties for the Rangers at the end of the 2003-2004 season, and coached three full years and parts of two others before being fired in 2009. In 327 games as the head coach, Renney’s Rangers went 164-121-42. Renney’s Rangers also qualified for the playoffs in each of his three full seasons, ending a seven year drought without April hockey in New York.
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?
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This news broke over the weekend, but 24-year-old forward Danny Kristo signed his qualifying offer, meaning the Rangers will retain his services for at least one more season. Kristo was acquired last summer in exchange for Christian Thomas, and put up 25-18-43 in 65 games with the Wolf Pack last season. Kristo appears to be an offense-only guy, but his offensive zone skills should translate nicely to the NHL level. The problem is that he is a bit of a disaster without the puck, and the organization will need to see a massive improvement before he is a serious consideration for the NHL club.
Kristo’s NHL salary will be $826,875.
Some quick notes (before I head off to Aruba…yea, be jealous) about the prospects, free agency, and those who left the Rangers.
- Brady Skjei, who by all accounts appears to be NHL ready, will be returning to the University of Minnesota for his junior year. Skjei is a first pairing defenseman with the club, and was instrumental in leading them to the inaugural B1G Championship last season. Skjei wants to win a Frozen Four before turning pro.
- Anton Stralman, who turned down a three-year, $9 million offer from the Rangers mid-year, was disappointed that the Rangers never “really” negotiated with him. That offer was rumored to be increased to four years and $4 million per year. Stralman eventually signed a five-year deal worth $4.5 million per season.
- Mats Zuccarello knows the Rangers are right up against the cap, and will work with the team to settle on a deal. However, he understands that he can’t take a pay cut either.
- Jeff Gorton is on the record saying the Rangers want another forward. I wouldn’t expect this to be a big landing, probably just a journeyman on a “show-me” deal like Benoit Pouliot’s last year.
- Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider, and Mats Zuccarello have all filed for arbitration.