One of the biggest questions looming over the offseason for the Rangers is how they will manage their RFAs. They have four players potentially headed to arbitration, the most important piece being Chris Kreider. Kreider’s combination of skill, size, and speed is difficult for opposing teams to match up against, making him priority number one for the Rangers. Initial guestimates had Kreider coming in on a multi-year extension worth $5 million per season. Steep price to pay for Kreider, but that’s the market value nowadays.
Enter Kyle Palmieri of the Devils, who this week inked an extension to stay in New Jersey for five years at a $4.65 million cap hit. The contract includes a modified no-trade clause for the UFA years, the last three years of his deal. Prior to his 30-goal campaign this past season, Palmieri had never even hit the 15-goal mark, with his career high being 14 goals.
In the least surprising news of the offseason, four Rangers have filed for arbitration. Forwards Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, and J.T. Miller, and defenseman Dylan McIlrath all filed for arbitration before yesterday’s 5pm deadline. This is a part of the process, and shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. It’s a common occurrence for the Rangers, and it buys them more time to negotiate a contract.
This does protect all four players from receiving an offer sheet, something some people were concerned about. I’d expect that all four players reach deals before going to arbitration, since these hearings can get pretty ugly (remember the Sean Avery hearing?). Also this triggers the August buyout period for the Rangers, so they will have a second window to buyout players, if need be.
Jeff Gorton is busy today, locking up his second RFA in the past ten minutes. News of Mat Bodie’s contract broke just minutes ago, and now news has broken that Niklas Jensen has also re-signed. Jensen was acquired from Vancouver in exchange for Emerson Etem last season, and put up 15-10-25 in 41 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack this year.
The 23-year-old, 6’3″, 210 lb winger from Denmark is coming off his ELC. Details of the contract have not been disclosed, but it is expected to be close to the NHL minimum on a two-way deal. The former first round pick is expected to compete for a spot with the Rangers next season, but will likely be a depth call up as need be.
The Rangers now have 14 contract spots remaining, of the 50 max.
The Rangers have agreed to terms with RFA Mat Bodie, the first RFA domino to fall this summer. Bodie was coming off his second contract, another one year, two way deal, in which he made the NHL minimum and $80,000 in the AHL. It’s expected that he has something similar to that deal for next year, although the terms haven’t been released.
Bodie was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014. The 6’0″, 175 lb defenseman has put up seasons of 5-27-32 and 7-29-36 with the Hartford Wolf Pack. It is expected that Bodie will remain with the Pack as one of their top-four defensemen this year. He likely won’t see much NHL time, if any.
With the signing, the Rangers have 15 NHL contract spots remaining of the 50 contract max.
Per Larry Brooks, the Rangers are currently not actively shopping Kevin Hayes, a move that will probably disappoint more than a few people. Hayes has seen his name in the same category as Dan Girardi and Marc Staal as players fans want to see traded. There is a narrative among some writers and fans that is being pushed, and it has painted Hayes in a negative light.
Objectively, Hayes did not match his rookie campaign, there’s no denying that. But some reviews that he’s been a downright disappointment are, bluntly put, wrong. It’s sad that the linked article states that the Rangers’ hopes of signing Jimmy Vesey is the primary reason why the Rangers haven’t traded him. There is legitimately zero proof that the Rangers are indeed going in this direction or that they are holding on to Hayes simply as a negotiating ploy.
The first two days of free agency are over, and the Rangers –to everyone’s expectations at this point– stayed relatively quiet. Many, including most of us here at BSB, expected the Rangers to make a big trade at the draft. When that didn’t happen, a quiet July 1 was all but assured. The Rangers did just that, stayed quiet. July 1 is a nice tradition of GMs spending way too much money, so let’s jump into some thoughts following the first two days.
1 – First and foremost, the Rangers did the right thing by staying out of the madness. The dollar amount on most of the contracts wasn’t bad, and it can be argued that a lot of players received fair market value. However term was insane. Seven years for Andrew Ladd? Six for David Backes? The Rangers already have two terrible contracts that are already in “regret” years. Be happy they didn’t add another.
The Rangers have made another depth defense signing, inking Michael Paliotta. The 23-year-old was a third round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2011 draft. He played a full four years at Vermont, really upping his scoring in the final two years.
The 6’#, 205 lb defenseman was shipped to Columbus as a part of the Brandon Saad trade, and was declined a qualifying offer by the Blue Jackets this June. He put up a line of 8-15-23 in 68 games with the Springfield Falcons, his first full pro season. It’s expected he will be in the AHL all year.
Adding on to the Michael Grabner signing, the Rangers have inked Nathan Gerbe to a one year deal at $600,000. The very small (5’5) forward finished his stint in Carolina, where he was primarily a bottom six forward, putting up 3-4-7 in his final year.
Gerbe will likely compete for a fourth line spot, and perhaps fill in while Oscar Lindberg is on the shelf with his hip surgeries. He’s not going to light the lamp, but he’s a decent fourth liner and a decent penalty killer.
With Viktor Stalberg headed to Carolina, the Rangers promptly replaced the Swede with another lightning fast skater in Michael Grabner for two years at a $1.6 million cap hit. Grabner got a huge deal from the Isles in 2011, but was traded as he was a healthy scratch regularly. He regained his footing with the Leafs, posting a solid 9-9-18 in 80 games.
Grabner and Stalberg have similar skill sets. They are both fast skaters, good on the penalty kill, and good on the forcheck. He’s not the 20-goal –or even 30-goal– guy he once was, but he’s still a solid depth forward for a team that needs speed. The fact that he’s on a decent contract helps too. The second year means he can be exposed in the expansion draft. That fact shouldn’t be overlooked.
The Rangers have signed defenseman Adam Clendening to a one year, two way deal, per Darren Dreger. Clendening is a right-handed defenseman that is more of a 7th or 8th defenseman. He spent most of last year with the Oilers (20 games), but also was with the Penguins organization for a few months.
The former second round pick has 50 NHL games, with a line of 2-9-11. This is a depth signing, replacing one of the many departed players in Hartford.