Prior to the start of the 2013-2014 season, few could have imagined that the Rangers would trade their heart and soul captain, Ryan Callahan, at the March 5 trade deadline. But such is life in the salary cap world – GM Glen Sather determined a contract number he wouldn’t exceed for both Callahan and defenseman Dan Girardi. Girardi proved willing to negotiate within Sather’s limits, Callahan did not, and he was stunningly traded for Martin St. Louis.
Why bring this up now? Because just as with last fall, the Rangers are about to open camp with a few mega contracts looming on the horizon. New York has a bit more financial wiggle room this time around, especially with the salary cap ceiling likely to increase, but there are still tough decisions to be made. So what lies ahead?
Who will be the captain? – Not all of the major personnel decisions are financial – who will be the next face of the Rangers is as important a decision as any. The logical candidates – Girardi, St. Louis, Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh – all come with questions. Girardi’s play dipped dramatically in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs after he signed a six-year, $33 million contract, so it could be a risky move to give the 30-year-old blueliner this honor without knowing if he can maintain his previous level of play. St. Louis has just one year remaining on his contract and is 39 years old, so while he might be the perfect veteran leader right now, that could represent flawed short-term thinking. Like St. Louis, Staal has just one year left on his deal and faces an uncertain future with the organization. That all leads to McDonagh, who’s certainly the unanimous choice among fans. It would be a major shock if he didn’t receive the C, but that’s also a lot to throw onto a 25-year-old who’s still blossoming as a player.
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Last night, the Rangers re-signed their final arbitration eligible RFA, locking up Derick Brassard to a five-year deal at $5 million per season. This came a few days after locking up another key RFA, Mats Zuccarello to a one-year deal at $3.5 million. The reactions to the Brassard and Zuccarello contracts seem to be a bit mixed. Fans are clearly happy the players are back, but the contracts seem to be “backwards” as most have communicated.
It’s true, the Rangers took a calculated risk with Zuccarello, and a little less of a risk with Brassard. But let’s tackle the first question: Why did the Rangers give Brassard more than he was asking for in arbitration?
The answer here is simple: Arbitration for Brassard was a one-year request, and it would make him a UFA at the age of 27, where he could cash in big time from a team in need of a 2C/3C. The Rangers bought four of those UFA years, through the age of 31 (remember, Brass will be playing out his twenties in New York, not his thirties). That costs money. In fact, it only cost them $50,000 more per year for those seasons.
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There are multiple reports that the Rangers have re-signed RFA center Derick Brassard to a five-year deal worth $25 million ($5 million cap hit). The deal will keep their second line center in blue until the age of 31. Brassard found chemistry with linemates Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot last season, putting up a line of 18-27-45 in 81 games and another 6-6-12 in 23 playoff games. Brassard has decent metrics, driving puck possession, but his WOWY (puck possession of teammates with/without Brass) show that he may have benefited from his linemates more than his linemates benefiting from him.
That said, $5 million is fair market value for Brassard, giving the Rangers a much needed 2C in his twenties. There really isn’t much to complain about on this deal.
Per Elliotte Friedman, RFA center Derick Brassard is requesting $4.95 million in arbitration, while the Rangers have countered with $3.825 million. The gap here is larger than the gap for Chris Kreider’s arbitration numbers, but that isn’t really a barometer. The Rangers have a history of getting their RFAs under contract before arbitration, and this one will hopefully be no different. The middle ground here is $4.5 million, which is right where I ballparked him.
While $4.5 million may seem a bit steep for Brassard, let’s remember that 2C’s are pulling in $5-$6 million lately. It may hurt this year, but the cap is expected to hit $75 million next year and $80 million the year after. When looking at those numbers, $4.5 million is a steal.
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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(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
When the music stopped on the NHL’s annual game of July 1 musical chairs, the Rangers were clearly left standing. Not only had they lost Brian Boyle, Benoit Pouliot, Anton Stralman and Brad Richards, but they were also left with minimal cap space and a much smaller group of incoming players. The kicker to all this is that none of the new players were centers.
All throughout the Finals, the narrative was the Kings’ depth down the middle and how the Rangers could match it. It was an area targeted for improvement this off-season, and it was the one area the Rangers seemingly couldn’t find a way to upgrade.
I don’t hate the Dan Boyle deal. I do hate the Tanner Glass deal, but we are talking about a 4W here, so it’s far from the end of the world. Sather added some nice depth the minor league club and created a pool of reinforcements should injury strike, but when we are potentially counting on one of just two possibly ready prospects to play significant minutes without any veteran competition, it becomes a little concerning. Read more »
Whether it was with the Columbus Blue Jackets or the New York Rangers, Derick Brassard has often left the impression that the best is yet to come. One thing Brassard has always done however, is respond positively to criticism or droughts, and has developed an encouraging tendency to turn up in the big games. It all bodes well then for the rest of the playoffs, but also with regard to his future as a Ranger.
Brassard is arguably one of the most naturally gifted players on a Rangers team that has a handful of All Star calibre players and potential Hall of Fame candidates. It is perhaps Brassard’s presence – and playmaking ability – that makes the departure of Brad Richards in the summer so likely. Also, it is Brassard that makes recruiting an eventual Richards replacement an option rather than a necessity.
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Alain Vigneault is being coy again. One day after injured center Derick Brassard was taking line rushes, AV said that he is still day-to-day (per Renaud Lavoie). Jeff Klein of the New York Times noted that AV said, in French, that Brass probably won’t play tonight. So, basically we don’t know what’s going on with Brassard. All we do know is that if Brassard plays, then Dominic Moore will slide back to the fourth line and Dan Carcillo will sit. If he’s out, then it will be the same lineup as Monday.
Per Ryan Rishaug, injured center Derick Brassard was taking line rushes this afternoon with regular linemate Mats Zuccarello and J.T. Miller (in Benoit Pouliot’s spot). Per Pat Leonard, Pouliot was just taking a maintenance day. AV alluded to the fact that Brassard may play tomorrow, and it looks like he will be back in the lineup after missing Game Two.
Per Pat Leonard, coach Alain Vigneault was a bit coy this morning when addressing Derick Brassard’s injury. When asked, AV said, “If I were a betting man.” That’s it. So, let’s assume he’s in for Game Three, which is great news for the Rangers.