Archive for Offseason

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Stepan (Photo: AP)

Update: The CBA specifically states that UFA contracts are not comparables for any arbitration hearing. Ryan O’Reilly was a UFA at the end of his old deal. Thus his new, $7.5 million-per-year contract is not a comparable for Derek Stepan’s arbitration hearing, and is inadmissible. Here is the article from the CBA.

Every season, I write a series of posts projecting the New York Rangers payroll for the following season. For the 2015-2016 season, I started after the trade deadline with the initial projections. The Rangers have seen a few roster moves since then, thus the projections for this season changed a bit.

The Rangers still have four key RFAs: Derek Stepan, Emerson Etem, J.T. Miller, and Jesper Fast. Stepan is the only player to command a significant salary, and has filed for arbitration. The cap ceiling is at $71.4 million for next season, so let’s break down who the Rangers have, and what to expect from the rest of the offseason:

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Derek Stepan files for arbitration

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In the most unsurprising move of the offseason thus far, Rangers center Derek Stepan has filed for arbitration. He was the only player –since Carl Hagelin was traded– that was eligible for arbitration on the Rangers. This is just a step in the process, and it is very rare that a player actually goes to arbitration. The only players I can remember getting to that point were Sean Avery and Nik Zherdev.

By filing for arbitration, Stepan will be unable to sign an offer sheet, so this actually protects the Rangers a bit. Players and teams can still negotiate right up until the arbitration hearing, and I expect Stepan to sign his deal before his hearing.

Again, this is part of the process, and is normal for arbitration eligible players.

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Larry Brooks has reported that Glen Sather will be stepping down as the Rangers’ general manager. There is a conference call scheduled for 4pm today in which it is expected that Jeff Gorton will be introduced as the new GM.

Sather’s last move as GM was to sign former Rangers’ defenseman Raphael Diaz to a contract this morning. Diaz filled in nicely as the 7D during the 2013-14 season with New York.

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NHL free agency open thread/live blog

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Oh Boromir, Glen Sather begs to differ.

Well, free agency is upon us. The Rangers don’t have much cap space to work with, as they still need to get Derek Stepan, Emerson Etem, J.T. Miller, and Jesper Fast under contract. When those four are signed, the Rangers will have 11 forwards and 6 defensemen, meaning they need a pair of forwards and a defenseman to fill out the roster.

That’s not to say they will go after free agents to fill those spots. It looks like the Rangers want to keep Matt Hunwick around as the 7D, who was pretty solid in that role last year. There are also a few kids –Brady Skjei, Dylan McIlrath, Oscar Lindberg, Ryan Bourque– vying for NHL spots next year. The holes in the roster may be filled by these kids, or they may be filled by a depth signing.

My guess is that the Rangers will look to add one depth forward via free agency on a one-year deal. Someone like Mike Santorelli or Shawn Horcoff, depending on price, are intriguing. Tomas Fleischmann is also a decent option.

Use this as your open thread for the day. Becky will be updating this with all signings across the league during the afternoon, and I will be back at night to do the night cap. There will be a blackout with no updates between 4:30-6pm EST.

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The New York Rangers qualified eight of their nine RFAs yesterday, meaning they will retain the rights to those eight players when free agency opens on July 1. The one RFA they did not qualify was defenseman Conor Allen, who will become a UFA. The eight RFAs qualified: Derek Stepan, J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast, Emerson Etem, Dylan McIlrath, Mat Bodie, Marek Hrivik, and Oscar Lindberg.

Danny Kristo and Jason Missiaen are Group 6 UFAs, having reached the age of 25, played three professional seasons, and had fewer than 80 (Kristo) or 28 (Missiaen) NHL games played.

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Last season, the Rangers deployed Benoit Pouliot, Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello on their third line and Derek Dorsett, Dominic Moore and Brian Boyle on the fourth for much of the season. Needless to say, depth up front was a team strength.

Thanks to the cap crunch and some head-scratching offseason moves, the bottom-six just wasn’t quite the same this year. The team spent much of the season attempting to identify a third-line scoring winger and failed to support Dominic Moore on the checking unit. But though the sum of its parts wasn’t good enough, many members of the bottom-six did have terrific seasons.

Kevin Hayes

What more could you ask for from the prized former Blackhawks first-round pick after he chose to join the Rangers last summer? Hayes really turned it on in the second-half, when it seemed like he improved every single game. Hayes has an impressive combination of size, hands and wheels, and the sky appears to be the limit for the 23-year-old. Hayes was a little quieter in the playoffs, but it’s hard to fault him for that.

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Salary cap ceiling set to $71.4 million

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The NHLPA announced that the upper limit of the salary cap will be set at $71.4 million for the 2015-2016 season. This is just a $2.4 million increase from last season’s $69 million ceiling. The reason for the small increase is due to the decreasing value of the Canadian Dollar.

The Rangers are in a bit of a crunch with the cap, but should be able to get their RFAs signed if they can move salary. There are other teams (Chicago, LA, Boston) with much more pressing issues.

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Rangers final grades: Defense

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Back by popular demand, we’ve decided to kick-start our annual player, coaching, and management report cards. As a reminder, these grades aren’t just based on stats, but also the execution of each personnel or player’s respective role within the organization. Obviously there’s some subjectivity here, but that’s what makes these interesting and conversational.

As always, feel free to post your own grades in the comments section below.

Dan Girardi

There’s no way to spin it. Girardi did not have a good season. While his effort was undeniably at a maximum, unfortunately his output was still a career low. This year was his worst statistical (scoring chance differential) season on record. What made matters worse was this came after a subpar performance in the 2014 playoffs.

It’s fair to point out that he may have the team’s toughest task with shutting down opposing stars and getting buried with defensive zone starts (after a whistle). However, he’s paid to break up those dangerous plays in the slot and this year he didn’t do that with any regularity. In general, I thought he just looked a step slower.

At 31 years of age, Girardi may no longer be quick enough to handle the man-on-man/overload defensive zone scheme that AV employs, especially in a top pairing role. More on that later this summer.

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Who ya gonna call?

Who ya gonna call?

With the Draft approaching and everyone’s attention turning to off-season business, Ranger fans have fixated on a report from TSN’s Darren Dreger (here and here) regarding significant interest around the league in Cam Talbot. He is apparently the top choice for a number of teams for their goaltending vacancies; Edmonton, San Jose, Calgary, Florida, Buffalo and Dallas, have all been named as potential suitors.

This is great news for the Rangers. A short time ago, we were talking about a second round pick representing solid value for the one-time undrafted free agent. Now, there is chatter about Talbot’s value being as high as a mid-first round pick. That would be quite the coup. This development has created an interesting debate in real versus perceived value. Read More→

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Projecting Derek Stepan’s next contract

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Stepan (AP Photo/Bruce Bennett)

Yesterday, I looked at what Carl Hagelin’s next contract might cost the Rangers, and it came out to be maybe $250,000 more than most had him pegged. I usually guess a little higher, so that people aren’t shocked if the contract comes in higher than expected. The other expensive RFA is Derek Stepan, the Rangers top-line center. Stepan, like Hagelin, is coming off his two-year bridge deal, which paid him $3.85 million this past season, and came with a cap hit of $3.075 million.

Stepan, who turns 25 tomorrow, had a weird season. He put up 55 points (16-39-55, 3-7-10 on the powerplay). Those numbers seem to be on-par with normal expectations, but are a far cry from his pace in the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season, when he put up 18-26-44 in just 48 games. I think Stepan is a 50-60 point center, putting him in the middle range of top-line centers. Stepan is also one of the few right-handed shots on the powerplay. Stepan, like Hagelin, is also arbitration-eligible.

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