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
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."Projecting the Rangers 2015-2016 payroll (Part 2)",