Thoughts following the draft

The 2019 NHL Draft is now over. The Rangers restocked the cupboard with a great draft. Now free agency looms large as the next phase of the rebuild begins. The Rangers aren’t necessarily expected to be a powerhouse any time soon, but this free agency looms large for them. As per usual, I have some thoughts.

1. On the draft, there were a bunch of complaints that the Blueshirts did not move any current roster players. It takes two to tango, and unfortunately without a definitive cap number until after the draft ended, a lot of deals for players with dollars attached to them went unfinished. Bob McKenzie said the Rangers were 100% trading both Chris Kreider and Jimmy Vesey. Neither was dealt…yet. Without knowing the cap ceiling, teams were hesitant, and you can’t blame them. It’s also worth noting that the draft is not necessarily the best place to trade a player with only one year left on his contract. I’d expect that both are dealt, if they are dealt, as the free agency picture becomes clearer.

2. Of course there were some trades made, but there were very few actual hockey trades. The Patrick Marleau deal was a cap dump that cost the Leafs a 1st round pick. The PK Subban trade was also a cap dump, which is why the return was so light. The only actual hockey trade was JT Miller to Vancouver, which was a gift to Tampa Bay. For some reason the Canucks gave up a 1st rounder in what was a needed move for Tampa Bay to clear salary. When in doubt, make trades with Vancouver, I guess.

3. If I’m Jeff Gorton and John Davidson, I’m staying away from the free agent class if I can’t land Artemi Panarin. They will have a better idea by the end of the day, since he’s meeting with them today. I’m on the fence about wanting him or Chris Kreider, though. It’s going to be one or the other. I’m biased so I’m leaning Kreider. He gives the Blueshirts something they don’t have –yes I’m aware I’m a broken record with this– with his speed/strength and his net-front presence. He’s also the clutchiest of the clutch in the playoffs. He just has a knack for big goals, like Justin Williams.

4. There was a rumor floating around on Twitter that Tyler Myers is likely headed towards a seven year deal with an $8 million cap hit. I find it to be unbelievable that teams –Vancouver, again– are dumb enough to sign Tyler Freaking Myers to a $56 million deal, but Kevin Shattenkirk at two years and $3.3 million can’t find a taker. That’s why I don’t believe the buyout talk for Shatty. Teams are going to balk at the free agent prices for these guys and look for a cheaper alternative. I think that’s going to become more apparent with the salary cap ceiling coming in at $81.5 million instead of $83 million. That extra $1.5 million means a lot.

5. The Metro Division is going to be an interesting beast in the coming years. The Caps and Pens are getting older, and while their superstar players can carry them for the time being, eventually we are going to see them fall behind in the race. The Rangers and Hurricanes have by far the best farm systems. The Devils have Jack Hughes and Subban. The Flyers have Alain Vigneault without a generational talent in net, so they should bleed goals. The Islanders are hoping Robin Lehner’s success isn’t a mirage. Of all these teams, only the Rangers and Hurricanes are well balanced enough for sustained success in the long-term, given they don’t screw up somewhere. It may not happen this year. It may not even happen next season. But there will be a changing of the guard in the Metro.

6. I know we like to give kudos to Jeff Gorton for his offseason work so far. And it truly has been magnificent. However there is still work to be done. They still, for some reason, employ Lindy Ruff. That’s going to be a problem for a young and developing defensive core. They have some bad contracts, but those will expire soon enough that buyouts aren’t really needed. The only thing that can truly set them back –now that we’ve established that Gorton isn’t going to trade the farm for a superstar– is a bad contract. That can be a Panarin contract. It could be a Kreider contract. But worse, it could be an egregious contract given to Matt Duchene, or Gustav Nyquist, or Joe Pavelski, or any of the other big names out there. Don’t pay for a name. This is the most dangerous part of the plan.

7. There’s a lot of talk about Vegas and their cap situation. Assuming the Rangers don’t get Panarin, they will have the cap space to add a bad contract with an asset. Assuming the Rangers don’t go after Colin Miller with Jacob Trouba in the mix, the talk is all about Nikita Gusev. The 26 year old LW is an RFA and scored at a higher rate in the KHL than Panarin. He signed his ELC in April of this year, so it’s not like he didn’t make the team. Vegas wants to keep him, but they are already over the cap without William Karlsson’s $5.9 million cap hit coming. Taking on David Clarkson’s LTIR contract –remember that LTIR isn’t free cap space, it’s just that a team can go over by that amount, which makes it difficult to accrue space and call up players– with Gusev helps Vegas out significantly, and gives the Rangers an educated dart throw with Gusev, who will be cheaper than Panarin.

8. Prediction: The Rangers don’t buyout anyone, and find a taker before the season starts for one of their more expensive blue liners.

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  • Rangers had a great draft, 3-4 potential NHLers in there, easily.
    To me, it’s Panarin or bust in FA. If the Rangers do not get him then trade everyone over 27 and acquire players under 25.
    Trouba gets 8 years, $7.5M per, IMO.
    The D corps will be: Trouba, Skjei, Hajek, DeAngelo, Staal, Fox.
    Shatty and Smith will be gone, either via trade or buyout.
    Shesty and Rykov will start in Hartford to get settled.
    Hank gets 60% of the starts and Georgiev 40% to start the season.
    CK’s fate is tied to Panarin, whether Panarin comes or not, and if he asks for more than 6 years.
    We now have one of the best prospect pools in the league. Who’d ever thunk it?
    Kakko starts on the top line and Krav on the 3rd line, maybe 2nd, depending on who is here.
    Names and Vesey get traded, eventually. I think Strome stays, for now.
    Please retire Gordie and Ruff. PLEASE.

    • When will people get over Gordie? How many good drafts (3) do you have to have before the less memorable ones are forgiven? He had a rough patch, then again during that time what did he have to work with? 3rd rounders at best …

    • Nice analysis. But I don’t see why CK and Panarin are mutually exclusive. In fact, the inability to get a deal done with Kreider on top of the Hayes failing last year leaves me questioning Gorton’s ability to keep his players.

      I believe Shattenkirk is tradeable. The precise nature of the trade is not clear. For example, consider Shatty at half-retained salary for a fifth round draft choice. My hunch is that Gorton turns that deal down. I don’t think Shattenkirk fits on the Rangers anymore, but I believe that at the reduced salary, he is an asset to a number of teams – the question is how much can the Rangers get for him. When we hear the Rangers are unable to trade him, we can only conclude there is no deal that the Rangers will currently accept. Likewise, I think Vesey has positive trade value- someone is bound to bite on a player that young at his salary. Of course, as the Marleau deal shows, almost anyone can be moved, but I think the Rangers can fit in under the cap without such drastic measures, even with Panarin and Kreider.

      More controversially, I expect Lundqvist to retire in January.

  • Richter good analysis. Hope is plays out your way. Thinking that we will need to sweeten the pot with Shatty or Smith with a player we didn’t see in the mix.

    Still time to make deals and getting into next year’s top two rounds is not a bad move either.

    • I agree, it will not be easy to trade those 2 but I think that they get bought out if they cannot trade them, even retaining some cap on each. There is the 2nd buyout period in August, so they do not have to do it now, and keep looking for trades.

      The CK issue is a problem, for sure. He asks for Hayes’ deal, he’s gone. William Karlsson just signed for 8 years, so the trend is for 7/8 years for these contracts. I do not believe that the Rangers will do this with CK. I can see 6 years, and that’s pushing it. BUT, they can also offer CK a job with the org after he retires, which is also an incentive to stay (Cally blew that). The Rangers’ FO love lifelong Rangers.

      I believe that Panarin is ours’, if the Rangers are willing to pay him, which is not a guarantee at all. The Rangers may not have to offer the most, but you and I know it will have to be 7 years, $11M per, or somewhere around there.

      It should be a fun offseason, if nothing else, lol.

      • Hey Tony, for sure its gonna be fun!

        I agree with you, that’s why I don’t think either happens. I think you agree that we can’t do both CK and Panarin. So it’s an either or. I don’t think for the difference in cost/term, Panarin brings that much more than CK, at least on this team right now. The premium is just not worth it. But I also don’t think we should give long term to CK and he is sure to ask for it.

        So what are we left with? Neither. So get a 1st rounder back for him. With the cap space you saved buy trading CK and not signing Panarin, use that to pick up some bad contracts that teams are looking to offload to temporarily plug in the hole at C or LW.

        I love the moves this offseason but I still think our focus should be on 2yrs from now. I think that will be when the window opens again.Get these rookies past the sophomore dip, 2 more years of Benoit and Henrik helping Shestyorkin. 2 yrs from now Shatty, Staal, Henrik, Smith are off the books.

        • Sounds like you are preaching patience, and I wholeheartedly agree! We are not ready yet, but given the aforementioned patience, we will be in the cat bird seat in a couple of years for a long time.

    • I would rather Smith was in AHL mentoring the kids before I would give something away to get rid of him.

      And I just do not believe that for the cap hit on Shatty with a buyout, there is a better option at that price. I think they give him one more year. Either he plays the same and we are still in the same spot but with only 1yr remaining or he plays better and can be worth something at the deadline.

  • How about trading Kreider for a 2020 1st rd pick and then picking up Gusev and taking on Stastny or Pacioretty? Stastny has 2yrs at 6.5m and Pac would have to be a buyout at 2.3m.

    • I’m against taking on more bad contracts. I don’t understand the narrative. I know the claim is for more assets, but I don’t see why we need to do that. We are on a good road, patience will get us to the promised land, not stupidity. You take on bad contracts from other teams, then they get stronger because now they have options. I fall on the side of never helping another team improve unless you improve even more. I don’t see a pick doing that. Ride out our contracts and then let the party begin.

  • This has been one of the most promising, fast paced, well thought out plan in any off season than I have ever seen in my life following this team. The vast majority of it being extremely positive with the trade for Jake, Fox, getting Kakko, there is a hockey god looking down upon us smiling.

    The question about some of our players whom we’d like to trade, but are still employed by us. Please just think this thru, would you want that trash heap playing for you? If not, what makes anyone else think another GM would want them playing for them? Guys like Name, Strome, Vesey all are decent players who can return something of value. Staal, Shittypants, even Smith to a certain extent can’t, or won’t. Like stated in the thread, Shatty at $3.3, even at that price, we can’t get get rid of the guy. Another great move on our part, going for the golden ring, while getting the golden shaft.

    Lindy Ruff has got to go, maybe be the eyes in the sky box, or the jock strap carrier, but he should never sit behind the bench again as a coach!

    The jury is still out until about the 10-15th of July when the dust settles, and we know exactly what we’re dealing with. Until then I’m not going to get too upset unless they make some bonehead move like signing Panarian for $11.5-12 mil, for 7 years.

    My last point, if LVK don’t, or cant work out a deal with Gusev, that could be a doable trade, Vesey for him, and sign him to three, or four year deal at his current rate, I’d be OK with that. The guy would be our poor man’s version of the Breadman, we could call him our Kaiser Roll, LOL!!!!!!!!

    • THere are so many possibilites, that we need to trust that Gorton is on top of this. He is smart and will do the right thing. The moves to this point are all good. He needs to decide on the amount of $$ for what players is the value proposition.

      We are overloaded with middle 6 wings. Let’s make some moves and grab picks. I hate to bury our young defensemen in Hartford with the reputation it has. Need to still clear out the logjam.

      • Sal

        Agree, and that’s one of the main reasons that makes it imperative to get rid of the three S’s, what a waste of slots, money, and development for our kids. I’d be happy with Shatty going first, that should be priority #1 for JG!!!!!! Smith can be utilized at two positions, so he would be my last choice to move, because the pylon is immobile, and half blind, he is just worn out due to no fault of his own. The injuries have caught up to Marc, and the game is so fast, it’s a sad situation for an old war horse like him…………….

  • The more I think about, the Rangers aren’t going to be very competitive until 2021-22 and that’s the year when a boat load of money comes off the books. I would be more inclined to save our money and acquire picks and players (Gusav) with the idea of signing your “Royal Bloomer” (bread joke) heading into that season. As much as I see Kreider being a valuable contributor for the next 5 seasons because of the size and speed combo, I’m not sure both sides can come to are reasonable price over that term. After watching Zucc and Shatt team friendly deals, I highly doubt he is taking one as well.

    Staal, Smith, and Shatt are really handcuffing us at the moment.

    Then again, I honestly think Panarin wants to play in Florida with Bobrosky. However, with the drafting of Spencer Knight, and the expectations of him coming to the NHL in 3-4 years, I can no longer see Florida offering a 7 or 8 year deal.

  • At this stage, I think offering ANY player $11M and a long term contract is a mistake. There will be plenty of them available again next year, after the dust has settled here and we know what we’ve already got. Yes, KK has the potential to be an elite player. Ditto Kravstov, and maybe Shesterkin. BUT we don’t know yet for sure, do we? Tying up that kind of money (which inevitably will have a NTC attached) this year is foolish.

  • No Panarin! Nice player, very good player, not worth the financial commitment. Sign Krieds. He has his own issues, yes, but he does have that unique package of skills and toughness and jas stood up for his teammates on some woefully wimpy rosters. My amateur GM view is that Krieds is a late bloomer and will flourish on a real team with talent and balance and a real coach (unlike team that made Cup finals and was lucky, happy with new coach and caught lightning in bottle). Remember Mike Knuble? Came here from Wings, I believe, big dude, skills, came here, never really put it together….then starred as power forward for Bruins. Sign Kreids to fair deal (6 or 6+ for 5 or 6) I say he takes. Oh, and JG: please get me Reaves and/or Ferland.

  • Panarin or bust – perhaps. I would still kick the tires on Zucc. For a team that supposedly needs center’s there are a lot of worse options out there than exploring Brian Boyle on a one-year deal.

    No that IGAF but isn’t Carter Hart “supposedly” a generational goalie talent?

    Ruff??? – I just don’t see how he fits the direction the team is going. Obviously the talent has not been there but, it is time to move on. The fact that he was part of the AV regime and is still here bothers me.

  • I think my preference would be Gusev and Kreider for 11 million, then ‘just’ Panarin for 11 million. The reason is that I think the current NHL is all about value and that those 2 together produce more than Panarin by himself.
    Panarin and Kreider would be nice too, but I think that the costs become too high really fast and that we have a cap problem in 1 or 2 years…

    • Gusev has no NHL resume yet…how will he help out perform Panarin?..and you are gonna give him 4-5 mill per?

      • Good question, that I do not know, but considering his past KHL performance I’m willing to take a risk, certainly since he probably won’t be too expensive yet, see RFA.

        How do you know Panarin keeps performing? And for 11m? That may be a huge price tag and I’m not sure if he is that good (as in 11m dollar good).
        Same as for Kreider, which a lot of people say that his skills will age nicely, which I actually doubt, since physicality is normally age-bound, whilst skill and thinking the game is less so. Although, if he manages to keep his speed up, he might be effective for a while.

      • He doesn’t have to outperform Panarin, he just has to be a good Top 6 forward at less than half the price …

  • First things first, we need some dominoes to fall prior to signing any UFA …

    1) Sign Trouba, or at least know what he wants;

    2) Sign Kreider or at least know what he wants … or move him out;

    3) clear the dead or semi-dead weight out. Their will be teams that miss out on the UFAs come July 1st, that’s when some trades might be made. More than anything the problem is having 3 bad contracts and not 1 or 2, with which we could live. That said each of those players could serve a function if they’re kept on for another year.
    — Smith provides flexibility, can play on the 4th line (pretty well) or be the 7th d’man.
    — Shattenkirk can give Fox time to develop and perhaps play less than 30 games (so the pick we sent remains a 3rd rounder instead of a 2nd rounder) — trade him at the deadline @50% retained salary and then hand the job over to Fox.
    — Staal with his NMC is the hardest move, but on a 3rd pairing is temporarily serviceable.

    4) Less necessary, but move 1 forward out —- Namestnikov, Vesey or Strome. This is even more unnecessary if we trade Kreider …

    Get through at least the first 3 above before signing any UFA … and I still think Panarin isn’t worth $10m or more — at least not to us. He’s a great player, but there are a lot of players in the League that I would rather pay $10M or more to …

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