AnalysisIrresponsible Rumormongering

No Cap Space for Kessel

Larry Brooks Marc Everson of the NY Post writes that the clock is ticking on the Rangers “bid” for RFA Phil Kessel. This is probably a moot point, but the Rangers lost all chances at Kessel when they traded their third-round pick next year for Brian Boyle. I, along with a ton of Ranger fans, was completely unaware that the Rangers were even in the bidding for the winger. But that doesn’t really matter right now.

There is simply not enough cap space available, for either team, to make a deal. The Rangers would have to send salary to Boston to make the deal happen on their end. The Bruins currently sit $600k OVER the cap, and that’s without Kessel on the roster at his $5 million demand.

Should the Rangers package, say Brandon Dubinsky, a pick, and a prospect for Kessel, and sign him to that $5 million contract, the Rangers, even with just 20 players on the roster, will sit $300k over the cap. The Bruins, of course, will still be $600k over the cap, but will need to sign Dubinsky, not Kessel. Same problem, different player.

2009-2010 Salaries

There are always over variables involved, of course. It’s only $300k, and Kessel might accept something in the $4.5 million salary range on a shorter term contract. That’s a very realistic possibility, getting Kessel for say, two years and $9 million. It definitely works for this season. But there are current and future factors that GM Glen Sather need to consider, mainly Marc Staal and Dan Girardi.

Both Staal and Girardi will be RFAs again at the end of the 2009-2010 season. Both will be due raises, probably to the tune of $2 million for Girardi and $2.5 million for Staal. This is important to note because the Rangers don’t have any major money coming off the books (unless you count Chris Higgins and Vinny Prospal), and the salary cap will almost certainly go down for the 2010-2011 season.

Another issue to consider is that Kessel, despite what anyone may write, is NOT a center. He is a very solid two-way winger with one of the best shots in the game. But he is not a center. The Rangers biggest need right now is a top-line center, in which they may have in Dubinsky, assuming he signs sometime before December.

The final issue, which is probably bigger than most people will realize, is that the Rangers would have just 20 players under contract. We saw what happened last season with no blue liners in the press box to pressure the starters (see: Kalinin, Dmitri). Competition breeds improvement. Plus, what happens if someone gets hurt?

The Rangers are in a very rare position where they have the cap room to absorb the raises due next year, a balance of youth and experience, and four cornerstones that they can build a franchise around (Staal, Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan and Henrik Lundqvist). Yes, acquiring Kessel would be an upgrade for this season, but you also have to plan for the future.

Devils Advocate: As I was writing this, I started playing Devils Advocate with myself. While I believe a trade for Kessel would be a step forward, and then a step backward due to the Staal/Girardi situation, I began to think about all those defense prospects sitting in Hartford. I also recall a post I made about Dan Girardi becoming expendable. If the Rangers deal for Kessel, you can probably kiss Dan Girardi good bye. With Bobby Sanguinetti, Michael Del Zotto, and Ryan McDonagh waiting in the wings, roster space needs to be made available.

That can be one way to deal with Girardi’s impending raise, just cut him loose. Depending on the cap ceiling, it may work out for the Rangers.

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  • I dont think an injury to a D man would be a problem …doesnt the NHL take the salary of injured players off the cap space? I think if a player misses more than 10 games their salary for those games is off the cap.

    Can anyone who knows more about this than me ( 99% of you ) confirm this.

  • The salary is not taken off, but an exemption to the “Upper Limit” is applied – the club can exceed the limit by the amount of the injured player’s salary. In effect, they’re allowed to be “over the maximum cap”. To return to the roster, however, the club must return to an aggregate salary that does not exceed the Upper Limit.

  • GUESS WHO IS THE HIGHEST PAID PLAYER IN THE AHL? It needs to be a defenseman on the Hartford Wolfpack. The problem with the recent Rangers is they have to many second liners get paid like first liners, which does not work in a salary cap system. The Rangers got lucky and shed Gomez and Zerdev, so now finish the job. There are at least 6 NHL defensemen in the organization other than Redden and Rosival so let’s go with the kids and free up cap space to get Kessel and others. I also belive that the other Vinny may become available if Oren Koulis gets the right to buy out Barrie. This is a time to be nimble and getting rid of two high paid mediocre defensemen so the Rangers can finally have a young fast team with a real first line that can score with Pittsburg and Philly.

    • Let’s dissect this one at a time:

      1) The Rangers will not be waiving Redden this year. If the rumors are true, and the Rangers are allowed to buyout a player at no cap cost, then Redden will be that guy.
      2) Shedding Gomez was lucky, yes, but Zherdev at 60 points for $3.25 million was a better value than Kotalik and his 40 points at $3 milion.
      3) Who are these 6 NHL ready defensemen in the organization that are better than Redden and Rozsival? And I mean proven better, not should be better.
      4) Salary cap, no Vinny, and as explained in this post, no Kessel.

      • I like the Kotalit signing…the guy is what weve been missing on the PP…a boomer who isnt afraid to shoot . I think he is a great addition.

  • reckless dealing of farm gems for big names with fancy reputations and zero hunger are as much a new york tradition as drunkly screaming ‘potvin sucks.’would you really be surprised if they bit on kessel moving girardi, dubi, draftpicks, one of avery’s models and possibly even some nearby young fans? kessel, it should be said, is awesome. he’s really a team player and an undenable goalscorer and, essentially, a good guy. it’s honestly tempting to sell the whole farm to see him line up with gabi. in the end, though, girardi’s importance to the team is obvious. him and staal are a well-oiled machine, young and confident, and one of the best pairings in the league. next to lunquist they are our prize jewel and should’t be gambled for even a potentially filthy forward line.

      • thats very true and he’s great. in my opinion you just don’t tamper with this defensive core of our team no matter the offensive upside of kessel. especially in this run and gun system smart athletic d-men become even more important.

  • But its also about planning for the future. Players like Sanguinetti and Del Zotto will need a roster spot soon, and it will be before the Rozsival and Redden contracts expire.

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