Whether you like the extension or not, Marc Staal is signed for the next six years at $5.7 million. The biggest concern across the board, outside of whether you wanted Staal re-signed, is about re-signing the rest of the key free agents: Mats Zuccarello (UFA), Martin St. Louis (UFA), Derek Stepan (RFA), and Carl Hagelin (RFA). They will also need to lock up J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast (both RFAs), and make decisions about Lee Stempniak (UFA), John Moore (RFA), and Matt Hunwick (UFA).

Assuming the recent news that Zucc is meeting with his agents today is true, then it appears the diminutive winger is next up on Glen Sather’s priority list. My manual calculations –RIP Capgeek– has the Rangers at about $55 million dedicated to the players currently signed for next season. If the cap goes from $69 million this season to $73 million next season (based off the CAD value, which fluctuates daily at this point), that leaves the Rangers with just $18 million to get those first six under contract.

*-Worth noting that I’m basing this off Kevin Hayes’ cap hit of $3.67 million. That number includes bonuses, but without Capgeek, I don’t know what the breakdown is, and can’t account for performance vs. signing bonus.

Since Zucc is the next to be signed, I’m venturing a guess he gets a nice raise on his $3.5 million salary. I’m pegging him for Derrick Brassard money, so about $5 million. That $18 million is down to $13 million.

Stepan is a no-brainer, and he’s getting slightly less than David Krejci money ($7.25 million per year). I peg Stepan at $6 million, more than double his current salary. All of a sudden, that cap space goes to $7 million.

I’d expect MSL to work with the Rangers on a one-year, incentive-laden deal to keep costs down next season. But that doesn’t mean his base salary is going to be absurdly low. I’ll peg him at $4 million, conservatively. That’s $3 million left.

Assuming Miller and Fast get about $1 million average each. All of a sudden the Rangers have just $1 million left, and more than a few spots to clear. Hagelin’s $2.25 million, and guaranteed to at least remain at that figure, becomes a talking point.

This isn’t a slight against Hagelin. It’s purely a numbers game, and an unfortunate one at that. Hags is a great speed and possession forward who excels on the penalty kill. He’s a solid bottom-six forward. That said, the Rangers don’t need a $2.25 million 4LW, since Anthony Duclair will likely need a spot on the roster next year.

It’s a pure numbers game. Hagelin is a solid player, but in the grand scheme of things is not irreplaceable. There’s a solid chance he is the odd-man out of the front office’s plans for the Rangers going forward.


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