Business of Hockey

Projecting the Rangers’ 2014-2015 payroll

The two biggest UFAs
The two biggest UFAs

One of the concerns following the acquisition of Kevin Klein –and his $2.9 million cap hit for the next four seasons– is the payroll for next season. The Rangers are spending $2.9 million on what, at the moment is a bottom pairing defenseman. In the bang-for-your-buck era that is today’s NHL, that generally doesn’t bode well for a team. The issue is magnified for New York, as they have just 10 players under contract at $42 million. With the projected cap ceiling at $71 million, that leaves the Rangers with $24 million to dress a competitive roster.

There are three types of players heading into the offseason: Those that are signed, those that are RFAs, and those that are UFAs. Let’s break them down.

Signed (Cap Hit): Henrik Lundqvist ($8.5m), Rick Nash ($7.8m), Brad Richards ($6.67m), Ryan McDonagh ($4.7m), Marc Staal ($3.975m), Derek Stepan ($3.075m), Kevin Klein ($2.9m), Carl Hagelin ($2.25m), Derek Dorsett ($1.633m), Cam Talbot ($562k)

RFAs (Qualifying Offer): Derick Brassard ($3,7m), Mats Zuccarello ($1.15m), Justin Falk ($1.023m), Chris Kreider ($850k),  John Moore ($850k)

UFAs: Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi, Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman, Dan Carcillo, Benoit Pouliot, Dom Moore

Let’s assume that even if Brad Richards gets bought out, they will replace him with another center making roughly the same amount of money. The ideal target is Paul Stastny, who makes $6.6 million this season. That is essentially a wash.

Of the RFAs, Zuccarello, Kreider, and Moore will all get raises on their QOs. Brassard may not get a raise due to the high value of his QO, but I would assume he still gets his. Falk will not be qualified at that amount.

Cally and Girardi are the only two locks to be re-signed from the UFAs. Boyle, Stralman, and Pouliot are all maybes based on asking price. I’d venture a guess that Carcillo and Moore will not be re-upped.

Capgeek has a fun Armchair GM feature that lets you project the payroll based on how you want the team to look for the following season. I played around with it, and you can see my initial projections here. Some notes on my logic:

  • As mentioned above, Stastny is the target to replace Richards, should the Rangers use their compliance buyout. The cap hit is basically a wash. I don’t foresee Stastny getting a huge raise on his $6.6 million salary.
  • I gave modest raises to the RFAs based on current performance, but I admittedly did not perform any research on their market value. True market value will be easy to gauge at the end of the season when their stats are final. Brassard is the only one that did not get a raise, as mentioned above.
  • The UFAs are easier to gauge their market value:
    • I used Dustin Brown’s contract as the comparable for Cally, but took a bit off Cally’s deal because of his inability to stay healthy for a full season.
    • Girardi was a tough one to crack, as defensive defensemen have a wide range of deals. I ballparked this one at $5.5 million, but this will be revisited.
    • Matt Hendrick’s contract was used for Boyle’s value, although I think Boyle takes a smaller term and more money. Don’t see teams making that mistake again.
  • This initial projection has the Rangers at $64.7 million, with about $6.4 million left to spend on the remaining 4 roster spots (2 F, 2 D).
  • Prospects (J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast, Oscar Lindberg, Danny Kristo, Dylan McIlrath, Conor Allen) were not included in the projections. They are too much of a wildcard.

There is a lot that will happen between now and the 2014-2015 season, but the salary cap –and the number of players the Rangers have hitting free agency– has been a hot topic for some time. We will revisit this post again when the season ends, but the Rangers aren’t in terrible shape.

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  • Nice analysis. I don’t agree that Cally and Girardi are locks to be re-signed. I’d take Dubinsky over either. Dubinsky makes less and there was general agreement that he was overpaid.

    Callahan is not as good as Zuccarello at almost every aspect of the game (including PK!) and is injury-prone. He was the heart and soul of the 2011-12 Rangers, who followed his lead and always played their hearts out, but in Nash’s shadow, he doesn’t seem to have the same effect.

    I’m not saying they won’t be back, just saying the Rangers will consider the options, given the price tags.

      • Thank all that is good someone else noticed that. Zuc is a great depth scorer but he has a ways to go before he’s a better player than Callahan. We have not seen the best of Callahan yet this season.

    • Dubinsky was so maddeningly inconsistent when he was here. I agree that Cally has struggled to contribute with all the injuries, but there is no way that I would take Dubi over him. Yikes!

      Comparing Zuc to Cally is like comparing apples to oranges. They are completely different players.

  • If you are going to bring in Stasny at that amount, I’d just rather keep Richards frankly. I think he is more of a leader than Stasny will ever be. If we are going to seriously break in youth then there will be savings there. Pouliot & Brassard are trade bait & Boyler’s time is up. As for Girardi, you can’t pay him more than Mac, so 4.5 mil is a max. Have to be careful with Stralman too because I can see us overpaying for him too.

    • Why can’t you pay Girardi more than McDonagh? When Mac finishes his current deal he will get paid, he just has to sit tight right now. That’s the framework these players operate in, they understand the business aspect of the league.

      Anyway Giradi won’t command more than $5.5M anyway so this is a somewhat moot point.

      • Why not offer Girardi to Vancouver for Bieksa! He’s a top 4 D and a righty that has played for AV. If Sather feels Girardi will be too expensive. You know Torts would push Gillis to get that trade done. Girardi may not mind going to play in Canada with Torts who he is best suited for. I think Bieksa is capable of top pairing mins. Thoughts? Girardi for Bieksa

        • puck luck i couldn’t agree more. I’d even say Girardi and Cally for Bieksa and Kesler (or another forward of AV’s choosing) be great for both teams and im sure players would be able to adjust very quickly

          • Bieksa/ Kessler > Girardi/Cally

            Those two are better. Also I dont think they are UFA after this season. No way VAN would ever take that deal.

    • If you understood the possible cap penalties (down the line) involved with keeping Richards, then you would want Statsny instead… who I believe will be Sather’s target.

      And with Danny G, it doesn’t matter with McD makes because Girardi is an UFA. All UFA contracts are bloated. That is, unless he takes a hometown discount, which could happen.

      • I understand the penalties involved in keeping Richards around or at least his contract. I have to think given his play
        And relative health. That he will play another 4-5 seasons competitively. With the cap expected to go up over the next few years. Even as much as 80 million. Richards contract will end up being dissolved.

    • Not sure Stasny is the answer. Just because Richards gets bought out, doesn’t mean that $ has to be redeployed on another 30ish center with declining physical skills

      Stepan/Brassard as the top two centers would be the ideal set up for the Rangers, just a question if they’re up to the challenge. If Miller can fill that 3rd line spot that would be great

      • If you remove Richards & have Stepan & Brassard as 1 & 2 pivot spots. This team is out of the playoffs already this season. Both were way too inconsistent. If Stepan continues on his current pace and finishes with 45-50 point. Then puts up a PPG season next year in a contract year. I’d move him while his value is high. He’s my favorite player but if he only has big years to get paid. Then we don’t need him in NY.

      • Stepan and Brassard would both be playing on a 3rd of 4th line of a cup team. having them as your 1 and 2 centers is by no means “ideal”. The cup teams in this league are built from their centers on out. definitely going to need an upgrade in this department.

    • paulronty my apologies here but i actually disagree with just about every point you made. Richards is getting paid 6.6 million until 2021 when he will be 39 years old. I dont care if he leads the league in goals and assists this year, he should be bought out. Stastny would be a fantastic fit with Nash. Pouliot and Brassard might bring us back a bag of practice pucks, if we’re lucky. Boyle contributes to the little areas. You can pay Girardi more than McDonagh, but I hope we trade him for a big return. And finally, we won’t overpay Stralman because we could have overpaid him last year and we didnt. no reason to believe sather will this time around. respectfully disagreeing with some (all) of your points.

  • Kind of a random thought that popped in this morning… I agree with Ray that I don’t see Callahan and Girardi as locks (though I put Callahan ahead of Girardi just BC he’s the C and I think fan blow back would be higher so there may be more pressure there) but if come deadline if they know they won’t be resigning Girardi would it be worth a call to EDM for their lotto pick?… I see this as a big stretch, but hear me out.
    A) I think Slats would keep him and let him walk anyway BC he knows his time here is running out and he wants to keep making a run at a cup
    B) I wouldn’t usually even think about crazy trades that involve lotto picks BC let’s face it, they don’t usually happen… However, given the embarrassment EDM has suffered with all these top picks (as eveidance they had to write a “sorry we suck” letter to their fans)not making them any better year in year out… is it that crazy to think they would maybe overpay for a proven vet like Girardi or Callahan (extended of course) maybe packaged with a lower level player?
    If we feel that Girardi is showing signs of decline/or doesn’t fit AV’s system then is it really a huge blow to the future.
    I really thought too that the Klein trade(locked up for four years) is a move to help guard against losing Girardi. No he’s not a direct replacement but more like a poor man’s Girardi.
    And keep in mind that Ekblad is a RHD if they wanted to go D, and Reinhart a C if they look to get stronger up the middle.

    IDK just some fun food for thought I guess…

    • It’s a good thought but I doubt the Oilers who are rebuilding, would give up a top 3 pick in the draft for a 30 year old they’d have to resign. If Sather knows he’s going to lose Girardi and given his value on the trade market. I’d think he’d look for another right handed D. I’d make a call to Vancouver. No one would value Girardi higher than Torts. Maybe Bieksa comes back with assets.

  • Dave… great write-up!

    An interesting element to the Klein acquisition is that it might be more about replacing Stralman than Girardi if Anton asks for too much money.

  • If Edmonton would give up that pick Sather has to grab it. Ekbald should be targeted with that pick. And there is good reason to think that Yakupov might be dealt so a Cally or Richards, Girardi, Our 2nd next year to Edmonton for Yakupov, Boyd Gordon, Jeff Petry, Tyler Pitlick or Ben Eager, a First this year, a 2nd this year and a 2nd Next year. We Should do this trade.

    I would take Eager to replace Carcillo and Jeff Petry as a 3rd pair defenseman. Yakupov to gain the trust and become Richards replacement. Boyd Gordon would be a good replacement for Boyle or Moore. We need to keep one of them though. Boyd Gordon is also very good on faceoffs.

    • Richards is a left handed Centerman. Yakapov is a RW. How does one replace the other either way? That trade is crazy and doesn’t make the Rangers a better team. It makes us the Oilers and the Oilers contenders. We would have to start a rebuild. That’s not happening in NY. Sather did it differently. Sather could make an offer for Yakapov who doesn’t seem too successful under Dallas Eakins system.

  • As useful as Richards is he is too expensive for a 2nd/3rd line center/winger. He doesnt rack up the points like he did 3 seasons ago. He is a solid two way forward though even though he is a playmaker. I would like to see what teams would even offer for him. As for Brassrd, he aint worth $3.7. If anything he will get an offer just not a QO. Zucc will definetly get a QO. No way we let him go for nothing. 5 of our UFA’s should come cheap. Girardi can recieve $4m per season. Cally maybe $3.5ish. Save some cap for a high paid player.

    • Brassard will be $4+ under the growing cap and Girardi and Callahan both will top $5 mm

      Unfortunately there won’t be many top UFAs this year. Probably Vanek, Moulson and Stasny will be the top guys

    • I think you’re right about Girardi but Callahan isn’t signing for 3.5 unless there’s some roofies involved in negotiations. Maybe a rag with some chloroform on it. Sather could put the pen in his hand and sign the deal for him. I would think Callahan eventually signs for 6 years about $35 – $36 mil. That’s my best guess. If Girardi wants to stay here, he is signed for
      4 years $17 mil. My best guess.

  • Agreed, Klein solidifies the 2nd pairing / right side and gives some reprieve should Stralman depart this summer. With McIlrath, Allen and Skjei waiting in the wings, hopefully the D will be secure for the foreseeable future

    Figure miller will be ready for the big leagues soon and Kristo’s offense is already ready. The only thing missing from this squad is size and a true 1C

    • Conor & Moore lookike 3rd pairing left side defenseman.
      McIlrath was another Gordie Clark wasted #1 of which he has many. If anything, McIlrath is a bottom pairing defenseman.

      Klein has to be a top four defenseman for what he is making. Girardi eats up a lot of minutes & never misses a shift. Stralman is a UFA & Staal
      is in a contract season next season.

      McDonough,Moore,Staal,Falk,Allen,& Skrei are all left side defensemen. Falk & someone else need to go.

    • I can’t understand why the kid Kristo hasn’t gotten a look yet. Maybe some sheltered mins and a PP opportunity. He’s a shooter and a scorer.

      • Sheltered minutes are a bad idea in general. They don’t help the team and it doesn’t help the player’s development to play in an unnatural setting. They should only be used when you don’t have enough decent players and you are forced to play guys like Stu Bickel and want them to do as little damage as possible.
        I might add that Kristo isn’t doing that well at Hartford. His scoring pace is good, but not extraordinary (IIRC, Newbury was better) and he is last on the team in +/-. I don’t want to say he isn’t promising, just that he isn’t NHL-ready yet.

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