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)
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.