The case for keeping Marc Staal next season

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The Rangers are in a transition period. The rebuild is in full swing. There are questions about regarding who stays and who goes. One of those questions is on Marc Staal, who has three more years left on his deal with a $5.7 million cap hit. Suffice it to say, it’s not a good contract.

The calls to trade or buyout Staal prior to this year were warranted. His contract was bad, and he was taking up cap space that could have been spent elsewhere. Without that contract, the Rangers probably don’t need to trade Derek Stepan to sign Kevin Shattenkirk, and perhaps this season is different. There’s no guarantee, but it’s something worth calling out. But times have changed in less than a year.

Assuming Staal isn’t a tradeable asset, then a buyout is the next logical discussion. Looking at the buyout options, buying out Staal this season results in a cap hit of $2 million in 2018-2019, $3 million the following year, $3.8 million the year after, then three seasons of $1.3 million. It is certainly an improvement on his $5.7 million cap hit for negative returns. It is an attractive option.

However let’s delay that buyout a year and see what it looks like. The end result is a $5.7 million cap hit for Staal on the Rangers next season. Then the buyout hits, and it becomes a $2.9 million cap hit, followed by a $3.7 million cap hit, then two seasons of $1.2 million. This isn’t as attractive for next season, but winds up with less money on the books for the following four years. Plus, there is one less year of dealing with the cap hit.

Whereas the Rangers needed to move on from Staal to dress a competitive team the past few years, that ship has sailed and they no longer have that obligation to do so. The club, as far as we can tell, has no plans to compete next year. They have oodles of cap space. There is no longer that need to send Staal packing, at least from a business standpoint.

As mentioned above, the Rangers have cap space, and there is no desperate need to really trade him at the moment. One other factor to consider is beyond next season, when the Rangers might hope to compete, is Staal’s base salary decreasing below his cap hit. His base salary in 2019-2020 is $4 million ($1 million signing bonus on July 1), and drops to $3.2 million the year after (also with a $1 million signing bonus). There’s value in a higher cap hit and a lower salary, as we’ve seen Arizona exploit lately. There’s a higher chance of a trade then, without dealing with the buyout fallout.

It would certainly be nice if all the young defensemen supplant the veterans next year, but it’s not likely. On the left side, it’s Staal, Brady Skjei, and possibly John Gilmour at the moment. Who else is there? Perhaps Libor Hajek, if he doesn’t need a year in the AHL? Sean Day? Ryan Lindgren? I doubt it.

There isn’t really a need to rush the likes of Hajek, Day, or Lindgren. Staal, at the very least, is a warm NHL body who can be a bottom-four –preferably bottom pairing– defenseman. It isn’t the ideal scenario, but for the immediate future it might be the most logical solution for dressing an NHL roster. If the overall goal is a higher draft pick next season and development time for kids without rushing them, then keeping Staal is an option that must be considered.

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  • I for one have always said that Staal had to go due to cap hit, lack of speed, and the system employed by AV. Now considering the fact that we really can’t trade him off, unless there is a GM willing to take over a contract for an aging, legally blind on one side defenseman, I suspect it’s best we keep him, and hold our noses for one more season.

    With a new coach, and probably a new system, Marc would be serviceable third pair, or can be our 7th d-man next season. We see this with Girardi, playing in a zone system, he is functional, so could Marc be. We don’t need dead cap space on the books for the next number of years, so we stay pat, and let the kids get a year or so at the AHL level to fine tune their collective games.

    Let this again be an example of what not to do with aging veterans, signing them for big money, and term, with any NMC included. Sather is still killing our team, and will continue to do so until Marc is off the books!!!!

    • Good point about Girardi. If other GMs see a value in Staal, then eating 50 percent of his salary to facilitate a trade makes much more sense than a buyout. I would take either a third/fourth/fifth round pick from any team that wants him.

    • All of the above is why they should’ve pushed the button on AV after 15-16. Too many roster decisions where you wonder how they project outside the system(something they did a little of after the white flag went up.)

      IIRC, Staal’s deal modifies to a modified NMC after this season. If you deal him after July 1, you’ll still have to retain a chunk of salary to get decent assets back.

      The problem is, Staal was their best defenceman this season, even if that isn’t saying much, and when he isn’t concussed he’s going to be. A new coach can get more miles out of him, then you move him at the deadline.

  • Staal is a serviceable 5th defenseman, and 4th in a crunch if we are down a body or 2. In a sheltered role Staal can still contribute, does not make his salary any easier to swallow other than us having to have so much money on the books regardless.

  • I actually thought Marc Staal wasn’t too bad this past season. Was he worth his cap hit? Hell no. But he may have been the most consistent (read that as not the best but consistent) Ranger defenseman this season. And as Dave pointed out, cap space doesn’t appear to be an issue this upcoming season.

    If they buy him out, wait until the expansion draft comes up. No real hurry for it to happen until then.

    • You thinking Staal “wasn’t too bad this season” is due to how bad Skjei was and overrated ADA was. Player’s like that didn’t stand out Staal was at least functional to the point he can swing his stick once in a blue moon to break a play. I’m not in favor of a rebuild and I don’t think this is really just that so I see no point in keeping Staal. There’s no way that a young buck on this team would be looking up at his playing style as one of those vets. I rather have Bieska or Deryk Engelland as old farts on this team than Staal, at least they’re mobil, have some speed left and play tough.

    • Staal (+11)was one of two regulars to be a plus player this season, the other being Kevin Hayes(+1.)

      His 5v5 RelGF% was 6.32, his Rel xGF was -1.36

      In comparison, Skjei: Rel GF% -9.33, Rel xGF% 2.33

  • There is no single reason to keep Marc Staal

    1. Doesn’t matter when you buy him out, it probably keep 1 mln in 6 years from now, but that’s the only minus

    2. He is not skating anymore, therefore he is not anymore NHL caliber player.

    3. He’ll be taking place of somebody would grow for NHL caliber player

    4. He is not the guy with leadership qualities, to lead young player

    • It sounds like Staal is a leader by default on this team. AV was talking about the leadership issue about 3 weeks ago, I think it’s on He came out to say that basically nobody on this team has that leadership gene and for now Staal and Zucc are the only natural selections.

      I feel like on this current team that only Zib and Hayes could be apart of the group. It seems AV was taking a shot at Kreider to not rep any of the letters. If JG was smart than he would surround Zucc with a new leadership group and by the time when both Zib and Hayes are 28-29 than they can step in, maybe even as a captain unless Zucc is a Ranger for life aka 3 or 4+ years.

      We need a Muzzin for the top 4

  • If you can trade Mark eating 50% of his salary, I think that would be the best solution. However, I am unsure that even at 50% salary whether anyone would bite. If not, keep him as your 7th D-man, even sit him behind the bench in a suit with the coaches and let him help out as a player-coach on the nights he is scratched if possible under the rules. He has earned the respect of his fellow players and is still young enough to relate to them, so why not?

    I think that in a zone system he would not be as hindered by his lack of speed these days. There is no doubt he has heart and toughness; they should try to use that while playing the younger players too if possible.

        • Kampfer has 1 year left on his deal and the entire amount can be buried in the minors with zero cap hit.

          Staal’s cap hit on a buyout or trade where the team retains money would cost multiples of Kampfer’s deal and be on the books longer than one season.

          Also, Staal was the team’s best defender last season, so the best value for money is to ride him in to the ground the next season, season and a half.

          This isn’t hard, people.

  • The really big elephant in the room is what becomes of Zuccarello? 3rd year of slightly declining production, now scoring at a 5v5 P60 rate less than the immortal Jesper Fast.

    For all the talk of having tons of cap room, with all the RFA’s you start running out of room to bring in quality outside players unless money is going the other way

  • Sean Day has 9 points in 11 games and a +7 in the playoffs so far, which is a much better indicator of future success in the NHL.

    • Reen

      I was excited whenever Sean was drafted, and couldn’t believe our luck that he fell into our lap the way he did. He is going to open some eyes whenever he comes up to the bigs. The kid is fast, strong, and has a decent shot to boot!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Albatross and does not fit the mold that Gorton is trying to create for the Rangers next year.

    Love you Marc, hope you’re healthy, but you gotta go.

    • Dave is spot on as usual. As mediocre as Staal is it simply is a bad long term move to buy him out now. We have the cap space and we can’t fill up the d with NHL caliber dmen. So absorb at least another year of his bad contract and reevaluate year by year.

      Ps – Staal may have been our best dman after McD last season, as pathetic as that may be. Doesn’t bode well for next season.

      • I fully expect the Rangers’ defense to struggle next season. If Chytil and Andersson are part of the forwards group, then I expect a lot of growing pains there too. That is just the way it is likely to be as they rebuild. If they are bad next season it won’t matter much.

      • All valid points Orland, I can’t really argue because you’re correct.

        My point of view is that you’re going to have dead cap space with Staal whether he plays or not. So the issue is, $5.7M in dead cap space or $3M in dead cap space. You can get young players to fill his spot that still costs you under the $5.7M he’s getting now.

        With a new coach in place and assuming some sort of defensive system that actually exists and is implemented, I think that we will see a big difference in the team’s overall D. With the now ex-coach, there was no defensive system to properly evaluate D men with.

        • Agree for next year. The problem with the buyout is that the impact is spread over more years so it is felt when we are presumably “rebuilt” and ready to compete again.

          • It’s not good either way, we both agree.

            But that’s what happens when you make bad business decisions, at some point, you have to pay for them.

            The cap will be going up to $82M, which is huge for a lot of teams, like the Rangers. Gives teams room to maneuver.

            But they have Staal and Smith ti deal with. How many players do you buyout? Bad situation, for sure.

  • No Buyout guys we can afford the cap hit next year, he will be in the top 6 for this non playoff team(high pick again). We can look at it again in the summer of 19 and see what makes sense at that point. Maybe Marc retires after next season good chance he continues to breaks down physically.

  • Disagree. Staal needs to go. We will need that spot for young talent. I would much rather see a young talent make a mistake and work out his game then watch Staal make those same mistakes over and over. No no no. Buy him out. Let’s get real with the rebuild and let’s fill the left side with young talent. Every D man we got in the trades is left handed. And as it stands we are locked in on the right side D with Shattenkirk Pionk and Deanglo

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