Archive for Business of Hockey
As expected, the New York Rangers have been relatively quiet this off season due to their cap situation. One NHL transaction that they made that can be seen as prominent is the signing of left wing Viktor Stalberg. At first, some people may have been confused over why the Rangers signed a player who played some games in the AHL to a $1.1 million contract, or why the Rangers signed him when they have young guys like Ryan Bourque and Oscar Lindberg still competing for an NHL spot. But the more I look at this the more it seems like an efficient signing by the New York Rangers.
For those who do not follow me on Twitter, I am currently working on a project that can allow fans and maybe NHL employees alike to view a player at any contract and see if he is worth it in the light of numerous stats. However, instead of talking about just millions we will be talking about cap percentage (cap%).
Why cap percentage?
A common thread among sports fans is that they’ve had a role in all of our lives, no matter how unimportant or trivial they seem in the big picture. Many of us have always been a fan, though it’s not a requirement to be a “true fan,” despite the pretentious attitudes of some people. You could like one team, many teams, many players, many plays… but you like the sport, and that’s what draws you to it.
Growing up, I was a diehard baseball fan. I practically grew up at Shea Stadium (yes, it’s still weird that it’s Citifield all these years later), buying cheap tickets in the low of the Mets lows and “sneaking” down from the loge section to catch a better glimpse of whichever scrubs the Wilpons threw together. The Mets broke my heart over and over, but I was a fan of the game and, moreso, what it meant to me. Read More→
Last year, I started with a series of posts projecting the 2014-2015 New York Rangers payroll, and they were a series of posts I enjoyed writing. So with the trade deadline passed and a large majority of players locked up for next season, projecting the 2015-2016 Rangers payroll seems like the next logical step.
Payroll is a huge concern for the Rangers, as they have a boatload of money committed to seven forwards, six defensemen, and two goalies next season. They have four key RFAs (Derek Stepan, J.T. Miller, Carl Hagelin, Jesper Fast) to re-sign, and two –Hagelin, Stepan– are going to be relatively expensive.
The 800-pound gorilla in the room is the cap ceiling. This year’s cap is at $69 million, and while everyone has been expecting a healthy increase due to increased revenue, the Canadian Dollar has been slipping, and that will be a major influencer on the cap. Most are predicting a modest increase to just $71 million, which does not do the Rangers any favors.
Let’s break down who the Rangers have signed and who their free agents are:
Once again it seemed like Rangers GM Glen Sather had little to no maneuverability under the salary cap, and once again Slats found a way to wriggle his payroll under the cap ceiling.
By exploiting a to this point little-used clause in the new collective bargaining agreement, Sather got Arizona to eat half of Yandle’s contract. Of course Sather had to sweeten his offers to persuade the Coyotes to offer financial aid, but Sather still shrewdly found a way to take on salary and improve his club when it seemed to be nearly impossible.
The Coyotes will absorb half of Yandle’s cap hit again next year, but the $2.625 million the Rangers have added to their payroll is still going to be difficult to work around given that the guys Yandle is replacing, John Moore and Matt Hunwick, counted just $851k and $600k, respectively, against the cap this season. Read More→
At last season’s trade deadline, the Rangers played chicken with their captain. Ryan Callahan was demanding a relatively outrageous contract extension that the Rangers were extremely hesitant to hand out. He was looking for top line dollars to play a well rounded, third line game. Down in Tampa, the Bolts’ long-time captain wasn’t feeling the love anymore. A first-ballot Hall of Famer left off the Olympic roster by his own GM. It was a recipe for bad blood.
Glen Sather was forced to make a choice between a legitimate top 6 upgrade or letting a homegrown, valuable player walk for nothing if his contract demands did not back down into reasonable territory. Ultimately, I still believe that Sather gave up too much ancillary value in the form of two first round picks, but such is life. The point is, it was appropriate for Sather to make that call in the middle of a competitive run. Upgrades are upgrades. Draft picks can be sorted out later. Read More→
Per Pierre LeBrun, citing Gary Bettman in a meeting with team owners, next year’s salary cap ceiling is projected to be in the $73 million range. That will be a $4 million increase (5.79%) increase on this year’s cap. Bettman stressed that this number is based on the Canadian Dollar not going down much further, Every dollar the cap goes up is critical for the Rangers, as they have five pending UFAs (St. Louis, Zuccarello, Stempniak, Staal, Hunwick) and five pending RFAs (Stepan, Hagelin, Miller, Fast, Moore).
Most of the pending free agents are due raises, specifically Derek Stepan.
I had contemplated writing this post a few weeks ago when the Rangers dropped several shootouts in quick succession, but I decided to hold out for the sake of objectivity. I think after almost ten (crazy, right?) seasons of sampling the utility of the shootout, it’s time to examine whether or not it is still a viable method for determining the winners of NHL games.
When the shootout was implemented in the 2005-2006 season, I’ll be honest; I was sick of ties. They were irritating. We didn’t get any sense of closure and half the time you weren’t sure what the prevailing emotion was. Did your team play well enough to win? Were they lucky to grab a point? There was just no satisfaction to it. Running the risk of being tarred and feathered, I’ll admit: I was on board with the shootout.
Newsday is reporting that MSG Inc (spun off from Cablevision in 2010) is exploring the idea of splitting the company into two companies: MSG Sports and Entertainment and MSG Real Estate. Both companies would be publicly traded, much like the way MSG Inc. and Cablevision are publicly traded today. The goal of this split would be to unlock value in the New York Rangers and New York Knicks, while keeping the concert industry afloat.
Currently, MSG Inc includes the professional sports teams: Knicks, Rangers, New York Liberty, and the Hartford Wolf Pack; MSG Media, which includes the regional sports networks, and the real-estate concert venues (Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre, the Chicago Theatre and the Forum in Inglewood, California).
The proposed split would merge MSG Media and MSG sports, while spinning off the real estate.
Cam Talbot has been an interesting story since joining the Rangers in Marty Biron’s stead at the beginning of last season. An undrafted free agent who blew the lid off his ceiling and went on to have a mini-breakout season as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup. He put up tremendous numbers (12-6-1, 1.64 GAA, .941 sv%), and by virtue of his age, can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this coming season.
Now, this puts the club in something of a pickle. He has an incredibly small sample size of games to judge his true talent level. What complicates things further is that most goalies of NHL caliber talent can put up quality numbers in a small set of games. What makes a starter is the ability to hold up that level of play over a fairly grueling 55-65 game sample. We have no idea if Talbot is up to that task, and unless something goes catastrophically wrong, we’re unlikely to find out this season. Read More→
Over the past few days, various reports have come in claiming the possible expansion into, depending on the report, anywhere from one to four (!) new markets. The consistent player in all these reports is Las Vegas, to be spearheaded by film and TV mogul, Jerry Bruckheimer. Additionally, Seattle, Quebec City, Kansas City and another Toronto franchise have been bandied about.
The chatter has also come in several different permutations. Some reports have expansion of two teams, some four, some moving two teams and expanding two teams. There is very little consistency at this point. More speculation than reality. Whether any of it comes to pass at all is completely up in the air, but let’s chew on it a little. Read More→