Projecting the Rangers 2015-2016 payroll (Part 2)

derek stepan
Stepan (Photo: AP)

Update: The CBA specifically states that UFA contracts are not comparables for any arbitration hearing. Ryan O’Reilly was a UFA at the end of his old deal. Thus his new, $7.5 million-per-year contract is not a comparable for Derek Stepan’s arbitration hearing, and is inadmissible. Here is the article from the CBA.

Every season, I write a series of posts projecting the New York Rangers payroll for the following season. For the 2015-2016 season, I started after the trade deadline with the initial projections. The Rangers have seen a few roster moves since then, thus the projections for this season changed a bit.

The Rangers still have four key RFAs: Derek Stepan, Emerson Etem, J.T. Miller, and Jesper Fast. Stepan is the only player to command a significant salary, and has filed for arbitration. The cap ceiling is at $71.4 million for next season, so let’s break down who the Rangers have, and what to expect from the rest of the offseason:

Signed (Cap Hit): Henrik Lundqvist ($8.5m), Rick Nash ($7.8m), Marc Staal ($5.7m) Dan Girardi ($5.5m), Derick Brassard ($5m), Ryan McDonagh ($4.7m), Dan Boyle ($4.5m), Mats Zuccarello ($4.5m), Kevin Klein ($2.9m), Keith Yandle ($2.625m), Chris Kreider($2.475m), Dominic Moore ($1.5m), Tanner Glass ($1.45m), Kevin Hayes ($900k), Victor Stalberg ($1.1m), Anttii Raanta ($750k), Raphael Diaz (700k)

Total: 17 players, $60.6 million

RFAs (Qualifying Offer): Derek Stepan* ($3.85), Emerson Etem ($850k), J.T. Miller ($874k), Jesper Fast ($945k)

Total: 4 players, $6.52 million in QOs
*-Arbitration eligible

It is unlikely that James Sheppard, the lone UFA that remains unsigned, will be re-signed by the Rangers.

Now let’s get to the projections:

  • I ballparked Stepan’s contract at $6 million, and there’s no reason to think otherwise at the moment. Ryan O’Reilly’s recent deal has a few people worried, but they aren’t direct comparables. Assuming Stepan comes in at $6 million on the nose, the Rangers will have 18 players signed at $66.6 million.
  • That leaves the three RFAs to sign. I haven’t done projections for these three, but they are going to get two-year bridge deals. That’s what the Rangers do, and it’s unlikely they deviate from the plan with such limited cap space. I think setting aside $3.5 million total for all three players is about right, if a high estimate. None of them are really in for a huge raise, thus the lower estimate.
  • Once the RFAs are signed, the Rangers will have committed $70.1 million to 21 players, with a need for a 12F/13F, depending on Alain Vigneault’s desire to continue playing Glass.
  • At this point, let’s just assume Oscar Lindberg gets that final spot on the roster, and that his salary will come in around $750k (his salary from last season). That puts the final number at 22 players and $70.825 million in cap dollars spent. It leaves the Rangers with approximately $575k in cap space.
  • With such little cap space, the Rangers would be hard pressed to dress a complete lineup if there is an injury. They’d be able to recall Ryan Bourque, but that’s really it. If they suffer a few injuries, they’d wind up like the Kings last year, unable to fully dress a roster. Something has to give
  • The quickest and easiest way to free up cap space is to trade Glass, but that’s not happening. My best guess is that, if they need to, they will demote him, freeing up $950k in cap space. If a replacement comes in at $750k, then that’s $200k in savings. That’s still peanuts.
  • The elephant in the room is that Klein contract. Many folks believe Brady Skjei is ready to make the team, and many also believe this is Dylan McIlrath’s year to truly contend for a spot. If one impresses, and you have Diaz as the 7D, then Klein is the cap casualty.
  • There are a few teams that need bodies and salary: Arizona and New Jersey come to mind. Perhaps there’s a match to be made there?

Even with the trade of Carl Hagelin, the Rangers are still in a cap crunch. They are right up on the ceiling, and a run of bad luck will really hamper their ability to dress a full roster. My guess is that Jeff Gorton waits until training camp, to see how things shake out.

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  1. Based on the numbers you listed, and Stepan’s demand of a $7 mil plus contract, what the Fu*K are we talking about??????

    People came down on my post last night. Question to those who disagree, is Step worth more than Zucc, or Brass?????????

    Is keeping Step, and loosing maybe a Miller, and Fast, and with the crunch next season, the possibility of loosing both Kreider, and Hayes????????????

    Now think again, is Step worth some 10% of the cap hit???????

    I’m not being cavalier about it, and I don’t want to see Step go, but he doesn’t give a shit about anything else but himself………

    Gorton is in a tight spot, and Step isn’t making it any easier for him, or the organization going forward toward our goal, a cup. Either he jumps on board towards that objective, or gets the hell out of town. IN either case, the TEAM is all that counts, not turds that don’t give a hoot about the team!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. I’m sure he cares about the team when he’s on the ice, in the locker room, during the season, etc. But why take a salary hit just because the team has a mismanaged payroll? Sure, he can think about the team, but the team (read: fans and management) can turn on a player very quickly. Look how quickly BR and MSL were run out of town. Look how often people have called for Nash to be run out. Someone’s got to look out for the players. That’s why they have agents

      1. Come on now, BR, and MS weren’t run out of town because we turned on them, they were run out because they couldn’t perform up to their contracts, or billing !!!!!!!!!!! Please…………

          1. He is right that both players were run out of town. No money no contract, has been a problem for some time with the Rangers.

            1. Everyone acknowledged that BR would still be with NYR if he didn’t have that deal, thus a cap casualty.

              And MSL retired. Not much changes that.

      2. People forget that players have lives too, and this is usually their one chance to cash in. Can’t fault them.

        1. Sometimes people’s passion for a team overshadows the fact that this is a business.

        2. no problem with going for the gusto, but don’t give me the bull crap of how he loves it here, and the team, lying through his teeth!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. another question I failed to ask before, is Step worth the same as Nash?????????

      he is seeking north of $7 mil, does he score at the rate that Nash does????

      for all the people who say Nash does all the little things, PK, etc. is Step worth more than him, scoring less than half the number of goals???????

      now give me all the flack you want, but one more time, think with your brains, not you emotions!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. I haven’t seen anywhere what his contract request is, but it makes sense to start high because they’ll negotiate down.

        1. Thank you.

          This is negotiations 101. No one is saying how bad it is that NYR offered $5m, or whatever it is they are likely to lowball him with. This is how the process works.

      2. Walt, you are right on, Stepan is a good player, not an elite player, pay him what he is worth, and he is worth good player money, thats it..

        1. Elite players get $10 million nowadays. Very good players, like Stepan, get $6 million. I don’t really see why this is such a hot button issue.

          My advice: Use percentage of cap when the deal was signed, instead of raw dollar amount.

        2. The only way Stepan is getting north of 6.5 a season is if the arbitrator decides to give it to him. There will be a lot of negotiations before then and hopefully it’s decided between Stepan and the Rangers and not a 3rd party. Everyone needs to calm down a little bit on this…

          By the way losing Stepan in comparison to most of the other players mentioned is just as detrimental to the team’s chance’s at winning up if they don’t bring in someone that is just as good as him. Turns out for obvious reasons not a ton of those players are available and on good contracts.

          1. Looked at a lot of numbers, there’s definitely a good chance he’s getting over 6.5 if he asks for it and stands pat.

          1. Walt, please see my most recent update at the top of this post.

            Brooks is factually incorrect. As is Carp.

    3. Come on Walt. You’ve been here a while. You know that the first “demand” isn’t the real target. It’s the opening number, and just step one of the negotiations. My guess is that if he asks for $7m, the Rangers are countering with $5m, which is below market value. That’s how this stuff works.

    4. Where was it said that Stepan is demanding $7 million? He filed for arbitration.

      1. People are taking Brooks’ and Carp’s word as gospel when they say ROR’s contract is a comparable. It’s not, and it’s not even admissible in arbitration.

  2. It may just be that Stepan waits too long and either has not choice or gets moved. If we sign JT & Fast to deals, and we only have $6M available to Stepan in 2015-16, he and his agent may just walk. We will see if $6M vs. $6.3M make such a difference to him. I can easily see where the NYR open the books and say, here it is, $6M, $6.2, $6.4 for a 3 year deal. You take it or we move you.

    1. I bet if that is indeed the offer, he walks, then proving my point all along!!!!!!!!!!

      1. If they cannot reach agreement, it kind of means they are both walking away,disregarding the semantics

  3. Dan Boyle is the guy they should move not Klein. Problem is are there any takers. Yandle is similar style D and is younger.

    1. Unfortunately Boyle has a no move built into his 2 yr deal. He has final say if he gets traded or not. I’m guessing he has no interest in being traded off of a contender in likely his final year playing professional hockey.

    2. Boyle was fine at even strength. He’s a disappointment because he didn’t improve the powerplay.

      Food for thought on the PP: The D have changed. The coaches have changed. The Fs have remained the same. Perhaps it’s the Fs that are the issue?

      1. then it falls on the coaching staff to make adjustments, and there is the failure on AV’s part!!!!

        1. Walt you have appeared to have gone insane! Settle down, take a breath, and realize that winning a Cup is not as easy as you, apparently, think it is! There is a reason it is regarded as the toughest championship in sports to win. There is no way anyone, not even someone who has appeared to have lost the ability to reason, like yourself, can say that AV’s time here has been a failure. It is when you say things like that, that people begin to think you have nothing to say worth hearing. Deep breath! Let it out slowly!

          1. Where the hell do you come from ass hole. I said that AV is a failure with the PP, not that he is as a coach. Read things right before you jump down my, or anyone else’s throat you turd!!!!!!!!!!

            1. play nice Walt, Asshole is not nice! I have an opinion, it differs from yours, too bad pal! I read it right, and discovered over and over again that YOU, my friend are consistently wrong!

              1. according to whom, you sarcastic know it all??????????

                Dave mentions the the problem may be the forwards, I comment to it, and there is your nasty remark, made several times directed at me. Your a weasel, that I don’t appreciate, not your opinion. On many occasions I have stated to others that we can agree to disagree, but no you have to be a snake with your vile toned remarks at me, and others before!!!

            2. Walt, finally revealed as just another online bully. A sad pathetic man (boy) who I know for a fact would never utter those words while looking me in the face! Go back to the schoolyard BULLY, this is 2015 and that stuff is no longer tolerated in a civilized society. Grown up little boy!

              1. Again your are a gutless individual who is hiding behind your computer. I never bullied anyone on this site, nor would I. On many occasions I read your nasty, sarcastic remarks to others. I wish I could meet you face to face, and I would have the guts to call you out. This is the last post regarding this topic. Have a good day…………..

    3. The Boyle debacle, pay me my big bucks, I will take a flyer on the regular season, But when the playoffs I will show the world why you brought me here, occasionally I will take a few seconds off each shift, it may cost us a playoff game, but hey, I need to pace myself!!, ONE OF THE MOST OVERPAID PLAYERS IN THE NHL.

  4. This team can and will survive a trade of Stepan. He when to arbitration because no team would give him a offer sheet of 6 or 7 mill. No team. Now he wants to put the screws to the Rangers. I wouldn’t pay him more than our number one center Brassard. The guy wants superstar money and isn’t a superstar. To sign Stepan at 6 mill plus would be bad management of the CAP. A smart trade of this guy with good assets coming back is the right thing to do. We have other players coming up who have to be paid. He’s in no way an untouchable .

    1. Your spot on with your remarks……

      Think about this, is Step worth just say 20-25% less than Towes, Malkin, Keen, Crosby??????

      If they award him over $7 mil, say $7.5 mil, would you sing him, or let him walk?

      As you pointed out, he doesn’t make players around him better, even as much as I hate to say it, Crosby does!!!!

      Think folks……………

      1. apples and oranges Walt! he’s not getting 7 or 7.5 mil, and he’s not any of those guys!

    2. No, he went to arbitration because 95% of RFAs elect arbitration. That’s a step in the process.

      Also, offer sheets are incredibly rare. The “threat” is a perceived threat created and fueled by the media.

      The mismanagement of the cap was with Girardi. Stepan is worth the $6m, which is < 10% of the cap ceiling.

  5. Personally I don’t give a damn about what the market dictates. As much as I like Step as a player, his performance on the ice is not worth 6 mil. I think he’s worth about 5.5mil over 4 years. If he wants six million, then I trade him.

  6. I don’t get it. Everyone complains that they want homegrown, first line scoring talent. Then they get someone like Stepan, who is first line scoring talent. But then everyone says cut him loose?

    You need to pay to keep the talent. That’s the game.

    1. He’s 2nd or 3rd line in my book. Toews 1st line, Anze first line, Malkin, Crosby 1st line. You put Stepan with these studs.

      1. Those are elite players. Stepan is not on that level, but few are.

        How in the world can you say, with a straight face, that Stepan is a THIRD LINE center?

        1. I clearly said 2nd or 3rd. You clearly said number one center which would put him with Toews, Crosby, Malkin and Grioux of the hockey world. You than reword it to say Elite which you didn’t say in your original post. Which is it? A bad teams number one center doesn’t make him a true stud center. Stepan is a good player but not worth more then Brassard. He’s not elite nor is he a stud or superstar. He’s a piece on a contending team. Not untouchable, not worth 6mill plus. Let someone else blow up their salary structure . An all for young player coming up and getting a shot. I love it. They do well than so do the Rangers. Never overpay, never unless he is a true STUD,SUPERSTAR player .

          1. And you just said Brassard is a number 1 center, so do you think that Brassard is in the same catergory as Towes, Kopitar, Malkin and Crosby???

            1. I said Brassard is OUR number one center and don’t pay Stepan more than Brassard. Neither is in the class the ELITE or SUPERSTAR centers. That is something this team and others could use.

              1. You see, we disagree on this greatly, so I’m not even going to bother arguing this whatsoever, because, we will be here for a week arguing this lol.

                In my opinion, Stepan IS a #1 Center on this team, and can probably be a number 1 Center on most teams in the NHL. To say Brass is the number one center over Step matter of factly, is your opinion and is not quite a fact quite yet, and in my opinion, won’t be, because, I’m in the minority here and am a big Stepan fan to begin with and look at him differently then you….In my eyes Derek Stepan is a serious talent in this league and his upsides have a very high ceiling from where he is now.

                Again, this isn’t something that we should, or even can argue over, because the bottom line is, we look at him in different ways.

              2. I largely agree with you Rob. The question though is, how much is he worth? I’d sign him for $6. Maybe $6.5. Beyond that, I don’t know. Is he a $7 mil player in a hard cap league? If you sign him to that, what are the implications to your salary structure long term when it comes to new deals next summer for Kreider and Hayes.

                No question, you and I would like to see him back. For me, the price has to be right.

            1. Nice find Dave.

              This is extremely important to remember. Point production is down across the league. The days of the 120 point man are long gone and it looks like the 100 point player is almost a thing of the past. Right now, a superstar is a guy that can post a point a game.

              That being said, a 55 point player (Ryan O’Reilly) is not worth a $7M cap hit. It’s going to fun laughing at a capped-out Buffalo in 4 years when all these young players are demanding $6M to play on the second line.

        2. Stepan is a 2nd line center or 1b if you must. I’ll bet if everyone is honest and actually shares their depth charts Stepan is the center on your 2nd line. He should not get much more than Brassard. My opinion.

      2. Not with those but there are 30 “1st line centers”, I’d put him in the top 20. He plays well both ways and on the PK. How many others do?

        1. To say top 20, puts him in the bottom half. A bottom half center doesn’t get 6plus mill on my team. If that where things are going that beer and hot dog will be 50 bucks. EACH.

    2. Makes no sense. Fickle fans who expect the world all the while asking that player to take less to do so.

      1. Again RFIB, stop with all the sane talk, there is no room for that while Walt and his cronies are on their rant!

  7. Also, Larry Brooks is flat out wrong when he said Stepan can use ROR’s contract in arbitration negotiations. ROR would’ve been a UFA after his deal expired. Stepan an RFA. Inadmissible per the CBA.

    1. I feel like I’ve heard the words “Larry Brooks” and “wrong” in the same sentence before.

  8. I don’t understand what is so empty about this Glass (trigger alert: pun!). It is way more than half full. So many question marks and exclamation points!!!!!! Sign Step. Trade Klein. Demote Glass just because! Next year Boyle is done and Dom probably also. Where’s the hurry to overhaul the team? Let’s see what Kreids, JT, and Hazy can bring. Brady and Buch the following year. This team is not that old.

    Yes, my heart bleeds about the Girardi/Stralman fiasco. It’s over. Here in the now, the Rangers still might have made the SCF with better luck on the injury front, and they have a real chance to go again this year.

  9. A young (going into age 25 season), homegrown player. 18th among centers in points per game last season. 3rd among centers behind Toews and Johnson in +/- for what it’s worth… He’s a solid 1st line, two-way center. He has his faults, but $6mil would put him right around players like Nugent-Hopkins which seems about right

  10. Dave, as usual just an outstanding job. Really lays out the salary situation well. Hard to disagree with what you are predicting.

    As for Stepan, for those who are all fired up about his filing for arbritration, I say “so what?” There is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with Stepan filing for arbitration. It’s his right under the CBA and his time to do so. The fact that he is doing so doesn’t make him greedy or selfish or not a team guy or whatever. He would be a fool NOT to do so.

    Now, as for what he’s worth, what he asks for, what his absolute drop dead bottom line is, that’s a whole different story and something we will all be watching closely. He did seem to have an over-inflated sense of his own worth during the last round of negotiations that resulted in his holdout. I don’t recall who “won” the battle–Stepan or Sather. But suffice it to say we should assume this will be a contentious negotiation.

    Putting a number on what Stepan is worth is tough. Is the benchmark for a comparison ROR, who signed for $7.5 mil/per? Or is the comparable more like Brandon Saad, at $6 mil/per? I think the Rangers let Hags go to make it possible to sign Step at around $6. If it goes beyond, say, $6.5, the Rangers might have no choice but to walk, and then the loss of Hags really looks like a mistake if that happens. Losing both players without an adequate way of replacing them would be a huge problem.

    Evaluating Step is tough. He’s only 25. He’s really just entering his prime and should get better. I could see him evolving into a 25 goal scorer this year and maybe a 25-30 goal guy beyond that. But, he has had lengthy stretches where he becomes invisible. He’s poor on face offs. Determining what he’s worth will not be easy.

    And then, of course, if you can’t make a deal, then what? What trades are out there? Who else has the cap space or the desire frankly to spend $7mil (let’s say) a year on Stepan?

    This will be fascinating to watch. As I said yesterday, Gorton will have a baptism by fire right away.

  11. If Stepan is going to play hardball(more than 6 mil) then it wouldn’t surprise me in the least that he gets traded. In fact, I’m already gearing myself up for it.

  12. 6.5 for 6 years I think is my top offer. The guy is 25 so a cap hit of 6.5 for a 60 point player (this past season he was a 0.8 point/game player), and honestly he could put up more, until he turns 31 is very fair. 7 million is my cutoff. Obviously the first number we hear about from the media will be Stepans initial highball offer. People will jump on this and call him greedy but it’s all part of the game.

  13. maybe i’m missing something, being far from an expert on salary negotiations and the CBA, but i’m not sure ROR’s contract was the problem if the case went to arbitration anyway. the problem as i see it comes in establishing the long term market for stepan, esp in his and his agent’s eyes. why would he agree to a long term deal at $6 million per when he knows there are comparable (or lesser, depending on your perspective) players making much more? worst case scenario for him he signs a one or two year arbitrated deal for $6M or whatever, and then walks as an UFA. isnt the idea to get him locked up long term and isnt that why the ROR contract is a problem?

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