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The Zuccarello and Kreider deals – mixed results for the Rangers

Kreider could be a league wide bargain next year - if he reaches his potential.

Kreider could be a league wide bargain next year – if he reaches his potential.

Everyone will be breathing a little easier now Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello are under contract for next season but the potential fallout of the two deals really is a mixed bag for the Rangers.

Chris Kreider

Assuming Alain Vigneault can continue to improve Kreider’s defense, Kreider’s contract should immediately become a bargain. The big, skilled forward has the potential to explode this coming season. He is now firmly established in the NHL, will have another camp under his belt, will be coming off a solid playoff season and will also want to prove that he was worth that $2.9 million he was demanding prior to agreeing with Glen Sather earlier this week.

Kreider is still all about potential and –while still slightly raw– he has 30-40 goal potential. Given his likely line mates (Stepan and Nash) and his talent, there’s no reason why he can’t hit 30 goals this coming season. In fact 30 is a number many fans will expect (albeit unfairly expect) from Kreider given his development over the past year. Twenty-One players scored 30 or more goals during the last regular season, and only Ryan Johansen of the Blue Jackets (33 goals, on his entry level contract) earned less than $3 million.

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Rangers re-sign Chris Kreider

Kreider is only of several draftees from the US system (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Rangers have re-signed Chris Kreider to a two-year bridge deal, worth $2.35 million in the first year and $2.6 million in the second year ($2.475 million cap hit). Kreider finally had his breakout season, putting up 17-20-37 in 66 games after being called up early in the season by the Rangers. Kreider also put up 5-8-13 in the playoffs after missing the first round and a half with a broken hand.

Kreider has been an interesting prospect. With elite talent, he has as high a ceiling as any forward prospect we’ve seen in New York since Tony Amonte. Problem is that he still hasn’t put it all together yet, which drove his cost down a bit. Last year was a solid year for the kid, but he needs to build on this past season and show he can consistently be a first line contributor to get the big bucks.

Since Mats Zuccarello signed yesterday, the Rangers just need to sign Derick Brassard and John Moore, the only two pending RFAs.

Checking in on the Columbus Blue Jackets

Scott Hartnell should set the tone for the Blue Jackets

Last year: 43-32-7, fourth in the Metro Division. Eliminated by the Penguins in the first round.

Key additions: Scott Hartnell, Brian Gibbons

Key subtractions: R.J. Umberger, Jack Skille, Derek MacKenzie, Blake Comeau, Nikita Nikitin

Franchise direction: The Jackets are happy as clams with the way things are going after they made a surprise postseason appearance and gave Pittsburgh all it could handle in the first round of the playoffs. Columbus had to let go of a few spare parts to provide flexibility and allow the team to lock up key long-term pillars like Ryan Johansen and Brandon Dubinsky, but the team has quality reinforcements. Read more »

Rangers re-sign Mats Zuccarello

Here for another year.

Sorry we are late here, but you know, life. Anyway, the Rangers have re-signed Mats Zuccarello to a one-year deal at $3.5 million, a bargain that really helps the cap-strapped Rangers. Zucc was the Rangers leading scorer this year on a one-year, $1.15 million deal, one of the best bargains in the NHL. There is some concern about the fact that this is a one-year deal, but it wouldn’t shock me if this is done in the mold of Henrik Lundqvist’s one-year deal way back when. If you remember, Hank signed a one-year deal at a discount before signing his six-year, $41.25 million deal in January.

The reason for this is that any extension signed in January would kick in for the following year, thus a bit of a loophole in the CBA. It allows the Rangers to have some flexibility with the cap while still giving Zucc a much deserved raise. It also allows Zucc –if I’m right here– to negotiate in January for the deal he would get as a UFA.

Rangers national TV schedule released

The Rangers national TV schedule (NBC/NBSCN) has been released for the 2014-2015 season, and the Rangers will play 14 nationally televised games. Of these, at least 10 are expected to be exclusive to NBC and NBCSN:

  • 11/5: Red Wing 8PM NBCSN
  • 11/19: Flyers 8PM NBCSN
  • 11/18: @Flyers 1PM NBC
  • 1/7: @Anaheim 10:30PM NBCSN
  • 1/18: @Penguins 12:30PM NBC
  • 1/29: Montreal 7PM NBCSN
  • 2/4: Bruins 8PM NBCSN
  • 2/28: Flyers 8PM NBC
  • 3/4: @Red Wings 8PM NBCSN
  • 3/8: @Chicago 7:30PM NBCSN
  • 3/11: @Washington 8PM NBCSN
  • 3/18: Chicago 8PM NBCSN
  • 3/22: Anaheim 7:30PM NBCSN
  • 3/24: LA 7PM NCSN

Projecting the next John Moore contract

Photo: New York Times

Photo: New York Times

As the lone RFA from the Rangers that is not arbitration eligible, the John Moore contract renewal falls at the bottom of the to-do list for the Rangers. Moore’s contract will become more of a focus after Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard, and Mats Zuccarello all sign, but that doesn’t mean Moore is forgotten about. If you remember Glen Sather’s history, he waits until August to get his non-arbitration RFAs under contract.

As for Moore, he’s coming off his ELC that paid him $810,000 in salary, with an additional $125,000 available in performance bonuses. The 23-year-old defenseman played the majority of his time on the third pairing, splitting his time with Michael Del Zotto and Kevin Klein. Moore played his weak side before the Del Zotto/Klein swap, moving to his strong side once the right-handed Klein came on board. Moore also put up career highs in goals (4), assists (11), and points (15) this season while averaging between 11-13 minutes per game.

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Friedman: $600k gap on Chris Kreider contract

Per Elliotte Friedman, there is a $600k gap for the Rangers on a new Chris Kreider contract. Kreider’s initial ask was $2.8 million per year, with the Rangers opening at $1.9 million (since upped to $2.2 million). I initially ballparked Kreider at two-years, $2 million +/- $250k. At this point I’d assume he gets a deal similar to Carl Hagelin ($2.25 million over two years).

Kreider is set to have his arbitration meeting on Wednesday. Per CBA guidelines, both sides must submit their contract terms 48 hours prior to the meeting.

An early look at potential NYR line combos

Source: Getty Images

Source: Getty Images

For the first time since, I don’t know the 90s, the Rangers had pretty stable line combinations at the forward position. While most of us figured there would be more consistency with this new regime, I don’t think anyone expected to see the lines stay together as often as they did for as long as they did.

Even if you look back at AV’s tenure in Vancouver, he rarely kept the lines together as consistently as he did last season. Obviously, this had a lot to do with depth. With the departure of many key players at several different forward positions, you wonder what kind of consistency we’ll see during 2014-15 season.

Today, we take an early look at what the Rangers potential line combinations could be come October.

First line

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What’s Going on in the Central Division? Part One

St Louis ain't singin the Blues

St Louis ain’t singin the Blues

Over the next few agonizing, hockey-free weeks, we’ll be going over moves made division by division, mostly highlighting winners and losers thus far in free agency. Though there is still time for many changes to be made (mostly the signing of restricted free agents, cough cough Glen Sather), several moves have happened around the league that we might not be familiar with. Much like my musings, these will be in random order, so let’s open with the Central Division.

Thanks NHL.com

Thanks NHL.com

Above shows a screenshot of how the division played out last year. Comparatively, the Central was the strongest of the four divisions, with five teams making it to see late April hockey as opposed to the Pacific’s three – despite the Pacific Division eventually hoisting the Cup. The favorites out of the west up until the last week of regular season hockey were the St. Louis Blues, up until their skid and first round exit courtesy of the Chicago Blackhawks. That being said, I believe the Blues are the winners as of July 20 of the 2014 offseason, and here’s why. Read more »

Projecting Derick Brassard’s next contract

Photo: Michael Ivins, USA TODAY Sports

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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