One of the major concerns for next year is the payroll. The Rangers have a lot of money tied into a few players, and the club lost a lot of key players in free agency. Another major factor was that the cap ceiling, initially projected to be $71 million, was announced to be just $69 million. Five key players departed via free agency, trade, or buyout (Anton Stralman, Benoit Pouliot, Brian Boyle, Derek Dorsett, Brad Richards), and another three appear all but gone (Justin Falk, Raphael Diaz, Dan Carcillo).
To counter that, the Rangers brought in Dan Boyle, Tanner Glass, and Mike Kostka. There were some other depth players brought in to help fill out the AHL roster as well (and yes, I’m counting Matt Lombardi as an AHL guy for now).
There are three types of players the Rangers are dealing with now: Those that are signed, those that have filed for arbitration, and those that are non-arbitration RFAs. Let’s break them down.
Signed (Cap Hit): Henrik Lundqvist ($8.5m), Rick Nash ($7.8m), Martin St. Louis ($5.625m), Dan Girardi ($5.5m), Ryan McDonagh ($4.7m), Dan Boyle ($4.5m), Marc Staal ($3.975m), Derek Stepan ($3.075m), Kevin Klein($2.9m), Carl Hagelin ($2.25m), Dominic Moore ($1.5m), Tanner Glass ($1.45m), Mike Kostka ($650k), Cam Talbot($562k)
Total: 14 players, $55 million
Total: 3 players, $5.6 million in QOs
Non-Arbitration RFAs (Qualifying Offer): John Moore ($850k)
Total: 1 player, $850k
In Parts One and Two, I made some initial projections using Capgeek’s Armchair GM feature. Naturally some of that is outdated, but that’s why there are so many version of this. I also projected deals for Kreider and Zuccarello, so I used those to stay accurate with my predictions and assumptions, and made my roster here. Here are the assumptions I used:
- I gave Kreider $2.25 million (Hagelin money) and Zuccarello $4 million (what I ballparked him at in the post). I gave John Moore $1.5 million, but that’s a complete estimate without doing any research.
- The initial projections I made (Parts One and Two) assumed the Rangers would find a way to re-sign some of their UFAs. Clearly that didn’t happen, so I had to blow up that roster. Sometimes my optimism gets the best of me.
- This roster has 22 players (13 F, 7 D, 2 G). The Rangers will need spares, hence the extra players.
- I initially didn’t include prospects in the first two projections, but there seems to be no way around this. There are three open spots on the roster and the Rangers need to fill these holes in the cheapest manner possible. ELCs are the best way to effectively fill those holes, if the kids are ready. Jesper Fast appears ready, but the real wild cards are J.T. Miller and Oscar Lindberg. Ryan Bourque has been mentioned as a dark horse to make the club in a fourth line role.
- This gives the Rangers $630k as a cap cushion, which will grow as the season progresses.
That $69 million cap really stung the Rangers. It didn’t put them in the same position that the Bruins are in, but it stung nonetheless. The club is now banking on the kids making the club. The last time that happened was the lockout shortened 2013 season, where both Kreider and Miller appeared to be overmatched. Hopefully it doesn’t blow up in their face this time around.