Offseason

Buyouts make little sense for the Rangers

The first NHL buyout window ends in five days, and the never-ending rumors of a Kevin Shattenkirk buyout still haunt my timeline. But it’s not just Shattenkirk who has buyout rumors, Marc Staal and Brendan Smith are also often searched on CapFriendly’s buyout calculator. For short term cap space, a buyout is a good plan.

However the Rangers are not in a desperate need of short term cap space. Artemi Panarin looks to be pricing himself out of basically everywhere except Sunrise, Florida, which means the Rangers have $17 million to throw at Jacob Trouba, Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux, and Pavel Buchnevich. The four total should be no more than $13-$14 million. Peanuts.

But yet the buyout rumors still exist. Roster space is the prevailing argument now, as the Blueshirts have 16 defensemen between the NHL and AHL right now, but eight that will be at the NHL level and in need of playing time. Something needs to give at the NHL level to ensure Adam Fox and Libor Hajek make the roster.

However that’s not necessarily true. Do we want to force Hajek, who played a whole three games, into a starting role? Ditto Fox, who is hyped beyond the hype but still may need a few months in the AHL? What about injuries? How will the Rangers manage those?

But perhaps the biggest issue with a buyout of any player is the lingering cap hit beyond the 2020-2021 season, which is when these contracts expire anyway. Let’s look at who is pending a new contract following the 2020-2021 season (entering 2021-2022), which would be year one of dead cap space:

That’s six players possibly due big time raises. As we saw this week, every cap dollar matters when the ceiling is uncertain. The dead cap space of $1.5 million for some of these buyouts means a lot, especially when you’re adding it on to the dead cap space for Dan Girardi.

Funny enough, that’s not even the main concern. The summer following the 2021-2022 season (the 2022-2023 season, the final year of dead cap space) has three more players needing a significant raise:

I think those three are a wee bit important, no?

The Rangers are in a unique situation where cap space today is less valuable than cap space tomorrow. Given the nominal increase this year, it actually benefited the Rangers to be in this situation. Why burn cap space in the future when you don’t need it today?

All three big contracts, plus Henrik Lundqvist’s, come off the books in two years. It is much more prudent to wait this out. Potentially find a taker at 50% retained for a draft pick or two. The short term vision of accelerating the rebuild should not cloud judgment and the overall goal of being a sustained contender for many years beyond.

"Buyouts make little sense for the Rangers", 5 out of 5 based on 42 ratings.
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51 Comments

  1. Agreed. Let’s be wise – I’m all in! We should have a better unit this year and a heck of a better team in Hartford, too. LGR!

    1. I agree maybe it’s best to wait it out, but buyout is very possible and not a rumor. Gorton stated they were looking at everything including a buyout…..No way Rangers will field Shatty, Smith and Staal on the opening night D roster.

    2. Best case scenario would be trading both Shatty and Smith..Staal is a leadership favorite and will not be dealt unless he asks to be dealt.

  2. 100% correct. The negative effects of buyouts now has been commented on ad nauseum yet many fans still pine for buyouts. I fully understand the desire to get rid of the unproductive vets ASAP but it simply makes no sense to do anything other than let the bad contracts wind down on their own and not repeat the errors of the past by entering into new bad ones. We have so many young prospects, many will fail, some will need time to be productive and perhaps a few will be good soon. We will not compete for the cup this year or next. And buyouts will only hamper us in the out years when we are ready to do so. In the meantime the immediate joy for the fan base should focus on seeing and evaluating the prospects and watching them grow into productive players. That is more important than trying to do everything possible to make the playoffs next year.

    1. Well said, both Orland and Dave. The Rangers are not in cap hell at the present time and should work to keep it that way.

      1. Jeez, and some people want more of this nonsense. Absolutely laughable, let’s give someone, anyone, 11M for 8 years. The very definition of dumb.

        1. No the definition of dumb is anything Larry Brooks writes. He has 3-4 different Rangers as strong buyout targets. The guy needs to retire.

  3. could not agree more. If we need cap space move Strome,Vesey and/or Namestnikov. they all have 1 season left on their deals and have limited value this year and none beyond that. They won’t bring back too much, although Buffalo seems enamored with Vesey.

    Wait for a team to get desperate like we did with Trouba and Winnipeg. With NJ taking PK, Carolina taking Marleau and Vancouver taking JT Miller, there are less teams now that can help out those in cap trouble. Hopefully pushing up prices. I”m also fine with sending Smith to Hartford for some small relief. Sucks for him, but if it’s best for the team so be it.

    I would even be Ok with keeping Fox in Hartford and limit him to less than 30 games with the big club this year to keep that other draft pick as a third instead of a second. Does not sounds like much, but I would say playoffs are 50/50 at best given all the uncertainty with the rookies. so that pick could be in the high 30’s to low 40’s in a deep draft. And Fox will still develop in Hartford beyond what he would have at Harvard. And no point in rushing him.

    1. Andy your comment is a breath of fresh air! Sound fiscal reasoning. You don’t accelerate a rebuild by signing Panarin to a ridiculous contract when the team is not ready. You accelerate the rebuild by trading for Fox, getting lucky and moving up to the number 2 pick in the draft, and then using patience. That’s how you do it, not by throwing caution to the wind on a hope and a prayer. Rangers are building a team to compete for years, not this year!

  4. except, there is no acceleration of the rebuild.
    Ice time will be earned. nothing is given for free. regardless of your name.

    It seems like there was never really a good reason to concern ourselves with buyouts, which would make this buyout business over-hyped fake news and a pointless conversation to say the least.

    the reason for buying someone out will not be to accommodate some prospect. Better to have the prospect beat out that vet and earn his position. You know, as management has continuously reminded us from one presser to the next.
    Maybe as many as 25 times in the last 6 months…
    What is it about those direct comments (managements “catchphrases”) that people chose to completely ignore?

    1. Exactly – as bad as Staal and Smith may be it is not clear that we even have one LHD prospect that is ready for the big time. Let them show enough in the preseason to earn a regular role. No need to rush anything on this team. Look at the way Quinn let the RHD situation play out last season. In the end ADA proved he belonged and Pionk proved he didn’t. Very different than how it looked at the beginning of the season.

      Similarly – who knows what the King has left and whether Georgy is ready for a bigger role. That’s why they play the games.

      1. “Exactly – as bad as Staal and Smith may be it is not clear that we even have one LHD prospect that is ready for the big time.”

        You can’t be serious with this posted comment can you? If we can’t find a replacement for Staal, we are in deep doo doo my friend. The man is a totem pole, stationary, can’t skate worth a damn, is legally blind in one eye, and we can’t replace him. Hell Jerry Lewis’s Kids could out skate Marc, please be real.

        Shatty never could play defense, just sucks up the place, and is hurt, or so he claims. At age 72 I believe I can out skate Staal, with two knee replacements, and have more cast iron nuts than Shatty. Sorry to be so offensive but your dead wrong on this point!!!!!!!!!

        As for the point about buy outs, that is an absolute last resort, and then some. We will be paying for Girardi for years to come yet, and people are advocating for more of the same non-sense. Trade any of the 3S’s, get a bag of hockey pucks, and consider yourselves lucky for it.

        Let this be a final lesson that we don’t sign retreads to long term contracts ever again, let them walk, and stay out of a cap hell……………………..

        1. No you cannot outskate Staal. Reality: Like everyone who plays in the NHL, Marc Staal is a phenomenal hockey player. If he played in any other league, he would excel. There are better left defensemen certainly, but the idea that you can pick someone off the street and get someone better is absurd. And even if you limit yourself to guys with some hockey ability, you are still going to strike out most of the time. John Gilmour, NO. Yegor Rykov or Ryan Lindgren, probably not at the moment. Maybe not even Libor Hajek.

          The Ranger problem is that Henrik Lundqvist makes defensemen look bad. He plays too deep and doesn’t contest the crease likes others do. He doesn’t really help clear the zone (and with the current forwards, the defensemen are really on their own). Five years ago the Rangers nearly won the Cup because they had one of the greatest defenses in NHL history and no one even noticed.

          Personally, I wish Marc would retire. When he is our age, I think will regret that he played as long as he did. If he reaches our age. Blind side hits are just not good for your long term health. But the Rangers were a better team last year with him than they would have been without him. That may be true again this year (or not).

          1. Sorry Ray, but I’ll send you a pair of my glasses to use, because your vision must be shot!!!!!

            Staal hasn’t been good since his brother Eric gave him a concussion, and that’s a fact. Your seeing Marc as he was, not as he is, sorry to be so blunt!!!!!!!

        2. Interesting headline:

          “Tarasenko has arthroscopic surgery on left knee, Blues GM says.”

          Gees, he was able to play with the bad knee, and after two seasons, Shittypants is still complaining about his injury, LOL!!!!!!!!!!

    2. the rebuild has been accelerator for a while now. We used pick 37 + a 3rd or 2nd next year to acquire Adam Fox. We used pick #20 and we moved Neil Pionk to get Jacob Trouba. We drafted Kakko, we got our 3 big Russia guys signed, we added some nice pieces to the prospect pool. I keep hearing we need to accelerate the rebuild. That’s what we’ve been doing all spring!

  5. Been beating this drum for a long time. No buyouts, we should only consider 50% salary retention. That limits the number of years we’re impacted with “dead space”.

    Re: Fox, he’s the best argument to keep Shattenkirk. Limit his games to 29 and screw Carolina. A 2nd round pick, especially in the next draft, as opposed to a 3rd rounder is a big difference.

    1. Couldn’t agree more. Buyout make no sense, far better to find a trade partner and retain salary.

  6. I tend to agree with this though I may make an exception for Marc Staal. He’s that bad. I would bury Smith in Hartford and keep him for injury purposes. Unless they find a trade partner for Shattenkirk I think he will start the year with the team. You could trade some of the forwards if you need cap space. I think Vesey is a goner and Kreider might be as well.

  7. The Staal buyout cost:
    2019-20 $2.9 million
    2020-21 $3.7 million
    2021-22 $1.2 million
    2022-23 $1.2 million
    Doesn’t seem worth it. Statistically he has not been terrible relative to our other d-men. If he played sheltered minutes, like he should at this point. his play would be better. Kind of like what Tampa did with Coburn and Girardi.

      1. That’s funny, but true. Actually Marc has a better case by being legally blind in one eye, so he could walk away with his head held high, and his pocket full of money!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Given the contracts come loose in two years. It would be best to hold here. Use the two years to have the current vets teach the young kids.

    I like where the roster is at.

    Shatty deserves a full year since he had a bad knee.
    Kreider should be kept his speed is an asset. And with other fast players they could light it up.
    I’d we could get smithti play well maybe we can trade him for an asset
    Staal will retire a ranger
    Hank teaches the two new goalies

    Two years you have a legit chance to win the cup.

    The team is solid now.

    Watch Panarin signs some huge contracts and blows his knee out. Or something like that. We have potential Panarins. Let em play.

    Are we in a better position than we were last year?
    Do we have a lot of roster questions that won’t be answered till preseason is over?
    If you answered yes to both those questions let’s be patient and see what we got before we go messing up our succulent beef stew

  9. Everyone says no to the buyout – I get it. But what if we do not find a dance partner for Shatty or Smith? Are you comfortable with them playing or sitting in the press box all year? We need to think long and hard about whether a slot on the roster is worth the pain of a buyout. I am guessing that Gorton has a plan. Let’s say his plan is to move whatever salary he can. He also needs a fallback plan regarding his inability to move out players. While a buyout is unwelcomes, it is just another tool he can use.

    I am guessing Shatty and Vesey get moved. I would prefer we keep Strome and Names. I would like to move Smith, but cannot see a likely trade partner.

  10. “Bruce Orpik called it a career Tuesday after 15 bruising NHL seasons in which he established himself as a big-hitting, shutdown defenceman and won the Stanley Cup twice”.

    This is fresh off of the NHL site. Marc, for the benefit of the team, and organization please consider this option before you continue to embarrass yourself some more!!!!!!!!!

    1. Yes this… but what upsets me more is Quinn’s constant game in and game out deployment of Staal. I want him bought out but it’s just not smart management. Hajek needs to play, Staal needs to sit out more and maybe go 60/40 split with him. It’s a double edged sword, Staal is here unfortunately, and Libor has to play.

      I kept saying JG will remove Quinn’s toys in time, he did it with McLeod, McQuaid and now Pionk. Staal is just there and there’s nothing anyone can do about it, aside from a buyout.

      1. Hajek needs to play for sure – but where? He sucked at Hartford last year – an extraordinary disappointment. So does he deserve NHL minutes without at least proving something preseason.

        And what about Lindgren – should we make a spot for him too. From what I can see his mostly likely outcome is a career minor leaguer.

        How about the concept that prospects need to show something before they can play in the big leagues? Otherwise they should develop further one level down.

        1. Other than the fact that you call Lingren a career minor leaguer, I don’t see why you get a thumbs down. I guess that’s it.

        2. Libor sucked in Hartford? You’re going to label him after playing in that disaster. First thing on JD’s agenda was to blow up that mess.

          Every metric in the 5 game sss Hajek played was virtually outstanding. He showed he wasn’t overwhelmed at all and scored a goal. His skating and positioning was fine and he was/is a prospect both Tampa and the Rangers coveted. Yes! He needs to play and play up here. As far as I’m concerned he already proved he deserves the chance. But if you think Staal and Smith are better alternatives more power to ya.

  11. Of course no one wants to do buyouts and have dead cap space….Of course trading them is the better option. But what do you do if no one wants your trash?

    1. We all know this and Sather’s relevancy diminishes with each passing day, so why do we keep on beating this dead old tired horse. Respect that he made us a relevant team for almost a decade after the sh!t show Neil Smith left for him.

  12. Sergei Zubov has finally been recognized, and will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November.

    Congratulations to Sergei, probably one of the most underrated d-man to play for us. What a PP with him, and Brian Leetch on the point. All the best to you Zubov, you made us proud!!!!!!!

      1. My 3 dumbest Ranger trades of all time:

        1) Middleton for Hodge
        2) Ridley and Miller for Carpenter
        3) Nedved and Zubov for Robitaille and Samuelsson

        1. Jean Ratelle and Brad Park for Espo and Vadnais … it wasn’t the worst trade by any means, but it was dumb nonetheless.

  13. Dave, finally the write up I’ve been waiting for from you. Glad you are on board, this was well thought out and spot on.

  14. Great article! There’s just no reason for buyouts in a rebuild. I don’t understand how dead cap-space for years is going to be helpful to a team who is building and will have talent that needs to be paid in 2-3 seasons.

    And I feel most of this urgency for buyouts is more from Quinn’s usage than anything else. Had he limited the ice-time for Staal (and Smith), I don’t think there would be this much demand for a buyout. I don’t believe you buy someone out and deal with longer term pain to try and force a coach to change his usage. And I think that’s where most of this is stemming from. I don’t care if Staal rides the bench all year… again, we’re not contending yet. But Quinn NEEDS to transition the ice-time to the younger guys.

    Fast fwd 3 seasons, and we can just use Panarin’s name here. I don’t believe his talent will recede like others here. But I believe a contract like the one being discussed will haunt this team. Hell, I’d rather pay Kreider and buyout Staal and Smith with the Panarin money if this is really the way they’re thinking. I think it may cost less in money and years.

  15. Please trade Vesey and Shattenkirk. And ride it out with Smith and Staal. Let’s wait and see with Strome and Namestnikov, I like both of them and can definitely see them as part of the Rangers going forward.

    1. I actually think that Nemestikov will stay…..at least throught the first half of the season.

  16. This is silly, I don’t think the Rangers should pay any free agent anything over $9.5-10m unless his name is McDavid … and 7 years is a long time.

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