Archive for Transactions
The Rangers made their first, and possibly only, big move yesterday, shipping Derick Brassard and a 2018 7th round pick to Ottawa for Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 2nd round pick. The move saves the Rangers $2.35 million in cap space while getting arguably equal –with the distinct possibility of it evolving into better– production while also getting younger. They also nabbed a second round pick as well. All in all, it was a solid trade for Jeff Gorton, adding to his already solid offseason. Here are my thoughts on the trade.
1 – First things first, it stinks to see Brassard go. But if any of the centers were to go, he was the only logical choice. Brass was the best trade chip for the Rangers, as Gorton cashed in on what is likely a depreciating asset. It was highly unlikely he was going to score 27 goals again next year, as he needed a whopping 15% shooting percentage to get to that. It was the first and only time Brass had ever cracked 20 goals, and at 29 years old when the season starts, he’s already peaked. Zibanejad already has a pair of 20-goal seasons at just 23 years old. Both Brassard and Zibanejad will put up 50 points next year. I’ll take the cap savings any day.
The Rangers have acquired forward Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 2nd round pick from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Derick Brassard and a 2018 7th round pick. Zibanejad, 23, put up a line of 21-30-51 last year for the Sens, following up his impressive 20-26-46 rookie campaign. He has one year left at $2.65 million on his current deal.
Brassard, 28, is coming off a career high in goals with 27 last season, and has put up 60 points the last two seasons with the Rangers. Brassard has three years left at $5 million per season.
The Rangers have signed their fourth player today, inking prospect Robin Kovacs to a three year entry level deal. The 19-year-old winger (20 in November), the Rangers third round pick in 2015, had a very impressive season last year in the SHL. As a boy among men, Kovacs had a 20-goal season and put up 34 points in 44 games.
It was previously expected that Kovacs would spend another year in the SHL before coming over to North America. I am unfamiliar with how the transfer agreement between the SHL and the NHL works, but I’m assuming that if he signed, that he will play in the AHL next season.
Bringing Kovacs to the AHL is great news for a team that needs young, cheap talent infused into the lineup regularly. Kovacs is among the top prospects in the system, and projects to be a good middle-six forward if he continues to develop. Following up his strong age-19 season with a solid showing in his rookie AHL season is a good start.
The Rangers are busy today, cleaning up a bunch of loose ends. RFA Tommy Hughes has been re-signed, terms undisclosed (side note: It’s 2016, just release the terms). Hughes was one of the few Hartford RFAs to receive a qualifying offer, and his inclusion in this was a surprise to a few people, given his relatively meager production over the life of his ELC.
The 24-year-old undrafted defenseman (righty) has spent the last three seasons in Hartford, with his best season being last year. He’s not a guy that will light the lamp often, and is relied on more as a prototypical defensive defenseman.
Hughes will likely spend another full year in Hartford. It’s unlikely he sees much, if any, NHL time.
The Rangers have signed UFA forward Josh Jooris (terms undisclosed), who was with the Calgary Flames the past two years. Over 119 games with Calgary, Jooris put up 16-21-37 as a bottom-six forward. The 26-year-old, right-handed forward will likely serve as a depth forward. It’s worth noting that Jooris hasn’t spent significant time in the AHL over the past two seasons.
Jooris is a curious signing, as the Rangers appear to be loading up on bottom-six guys. With Nathan Gerbe, Michael Grabner, and now Jooris in the mix, it appears the Rangers are preparing for life without Oscar Lindberg in the short term, and perhaps looking for cheaper solutions to the fourth line and Tanner Glass’ relative ineffectiveness.
It’ll be interesting to see where Jooris slots in. It doesn’t look like he’s AHL bound. Perhaps he’s the 13F. But with Gerbe, Jooris, Grabner, and Glass in the mix, it doesn’t look like Nicklas Jensen or Marek Hrivik will get serious looks this Fall. Jooris is highly regarded by stats folks as one of the best defensive forwards in the game. This sounds like a solid signing.
The Rangers have locked up their second RFA, agreeing to terms with defenseman Dylan McIlrath on a one-year deal. The deal will pay him $800,000, per Tim Wharnsby. The big defenseman is a constant topic of conversation and point of contention for many folks for reasons well beyond his control. From the questionable selection at tenth overall to questionable usage, McIlrath has stayed professional through it all.
In 34 games last season McIlrath put up 2-2-4, but showed a steadiness and calm nature on the ice that was a bit unexpected for many people. He was a pleasant surprise in that small sample, and he certainly earned more ice time that he didn’t get last season. Whether you agree he’s a future mainstay or not, he certainly deserved more ice time.
It’s uncertain what McIlrath’s role will be this coming year. He’s one of three RHD’s on the roster, and while Alain Vigneault loves his equal LHD/RHD lineups, the acquisition of Nick Holden and the assumed promotion of Brady Skjei make for an unclear blue line at this stage in the offseason. It’s likely he resumes his role as the team’s 7D, unless more changes are made. But he must play 42 games, or else he becomes a UFA next season.
The Rangers have re-signed their first major RFA, coming to terms with J.T. Miller on a two-year bridge deal. The 23-year-old winger will get $2.5 million next season and $2.75 million in 2017-2018, for a total cap hit of $2.65 million over the life of the deal.
I’m not the biggest fan of bridge deals for someone like Miller, since it paints the Rangers into a corner when it comes to buying out UFA years, like it did with Carl Hagelin. However you can’t be upset with the “right now” value. Miller comes in as a bargain given his production.
Miller will look to improve upon his first full year in the NHL, where he put up 22-21-43 in 82 games. He bounced between the second and third lines last season, but it is likely he has found his spot in the top-six going forward.
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.
The dust has settled on the first day of free agency and while some teams went for big splashes the Rangers made some savvy depth moves that may be cause for cautious optimism regarding the front office and their offseason strategy.
While rival GMs were busy handing out 5, 6, or even 7-year deals, the Rangers added Michael Grabner, Nathan Gerbe, Michael Paliotta and Adam Clendening to short term, low cap hit contracts. The Rangers didn’t exactly have the opportunity to make any big moves, given their tight salary cap situation, but it’s still encouraging that they looked to add speed and skill to their bottom six.