Finding $8 million in cap space

With Artemi Panarin now in the books, the Rangers have an interesting situation on their hands, with just $8 million in cap space for four key RFAs. Using Evolving Wild’s free agent estimator, we can expect the RFAs to come to about $14.7 million in cap hits:

  • Jacob Trouba – $7.5 million
  • Pavel Buchnevich – $3.25 million
  • Tony DeAngelo – $2.75 million
  • Brendan Lemieux – $1.2 million

That’s a difference of about $7 million in cap space needed. There are some low hanging fruit here, since the estimates currently include Matt Beleskey and Brendan Smith. That’s about $2.15 million in total cap savings just from those two, so it brings the number needed to $4.85 million. That’s certainly doable, albeit maybe not in the manner we expect.

The expected move is trading Chris Kreider, but I don’t think that is in the cards. I may be biased here because I’d like to keep him around and I think he adds a different element to the Rangers with his speed, strength, and net-front presence, making the club more well rounded. But his $4.625 million cap hit this year and his likely $7 million extension next year is why he seems to be the odd man out. However there are other ways to get out from the cap issues without dealing Kreider. It’s also worth noting that even if the Rangers do trade Kreider, they would still need about $200k in cap space. That’s manageable, but if they are right on the nose it limits them. Ideally they get some flexibility.

The first, and possibly most likely, scenario is trading Kevin Shattenkirk and retaining 50% on the deal. Assuming the Rangers take no salary back, then that’s $3.3 million in cap savings. Of course it takes two to tango here, but Tampa seems like it could be a good fit. Their RD situation is a mess right now, as Luke Schenn and Jan Rutta are looking like they will get significant minutes. They still have their issues, signing Brayden Point being their biggest, so cap space might be the issue there as well. There can be one of those complicated three team deals where each team retains 50%, like we saw with Derick Brassard a few years back, but still doable.

Assuming the Rangers take this path, then it’s another $1.5 million that needs to be cleared. This might go against their mold, but finding a taker for Ryan Strome and his unsustainable scoring would clear another $3.1 million. It might go against their mold because he’s young and cost controlled. Strome’s metrics weren’t overly great, and he’s a disaster in the defensive zone. There’s going to be a team that sees his 19 goals as evidence he’s turned the corner, but all signs point to a significant regression to the mean for him as that SH% comes back down to his career average. Selling high here would be prudent.

This all comes down to whether management views Kreider as part of the leadership core going forward, or if he is just another piece to be traded. If he’s part of the future, then we will see a few deals to clear space. If he’s not, then it may just be him and a spare part (Boo Nieves?) heading out.

Of course they could just trade Marc Staal and solve all their issues, but let’s assume that won’t happen this year.

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  • “Of course they could just trade Marc Staal and solve all their issues, but let’s assume that won’t happen this year.”

    And, I could win a $$500 million lottery. 🙂

    Seriously, I can’t see any way that Staal is traded. There is no team out there foolish enough to even consider him, unless they are sending back an equally bad ciontract, and what do we gain by that?

    • stall could retire too. That would solve some issues. Best chance to trade Staal would be at the 2021 trade deadline for a desperate team needing a D man. Even then not likely and you would have to retain half his salary.

      I am concerned they may buy him out. Which kicks the can down the road. Buys them time but wastes future cap space.

      We should look to move Namestnikov, Shatty and Strome. It’s more cap space then we need, but let’s be candid. As many boxes as Panarin (and Trouba) check, we still have some holes in the rooster that need to be filled and being up against the cap to start the season is not ideal.

      • There are 4 things that are guaranteed in life:

        1) Death
        2) Taxes
        3) Henrik will play out his current contract and retire a Ranger
        4) Staal will play out his current contract and retire a Ranger

        So, no matter how hard we try and create scenarios that will make us happy as fans, it ain’t gonna happen, vis a vie Hank and Marc.

  • Ray had asked if we could find someone to trade Namestnikov with and bury that return salary, I went a bit farther: half retain, bury our half, then the other team half retains, then *that* team buries.


    Brett Richie BOS
    Nate Thompson MTL
    Joakim Norstrom BOS

  • Let’s try not to play armchair GM for about a week. Gorton knows the multiple ways to skin this cat. Some more appealing than others, but he knows. I am sure he makes the best deal he can. Have faith in Gorton & JB.

  • I think Trouba gets over $8M …

    I also think there’s a market out there for both Strome and Namestnikov, possibly Smith and Shattenkirk (@50% retained salary) as the July 1 dust settles. Teams with space that could be interested include Colorado, Columbus, Anaheim, Minnesota, Oilers … I mean Namestnikov and Strome both provide depth for some of the good teams, how could they not at least bring a 3rd or 4th rounder back?

  • To those who still think signing Panarin was a mistake (and I was always on the fence about it): If stingy Lou was willing to give Panarin 7 years @ over $12M (maybe 12.5M according to Friedman), if Columbus was willing to do 8 years @ $12M and if Sakic was willing to pay Panarin $82M for 7 years, then how bad can our deal for Panarin look — especially in light of Lou’s offer. He’s literally one of the biggest cheapskates in the NHL and didn’t even offer Tavares that type of money.

      • You have to compete — the Varlamov signing strikes me as strange (the term more than the money) but Lee getting 7 for 7, well that just seems to be where the market is for power forwards in the 50+ point range, besides he’s their Captain. That 7 for 7 pretty much establishes Kreider’s next contract, unless we get lucky and sign him for $40M over 6.

        Again though, it wasn’t just Lou … it was Sakic, Columbus and maybe even Florida, well forget Florida because they’re a tad crazy. lol

      • Your man crush with Kreider is commendable but if you truly are a NYR fan and educated blogger you would be honest with yourself and those who read your writings and realize it’s time to go. He’s on the downside of 30+ and $7m x 7 would have you screaming at what a fool Gorton was for signing him to such a disastrous contract ala Chiarelli. While your disdain for Shattenkirk is palatable and not without some understanding it also belies the analytical analysis of his year. In addition, Fox is not a given to be playing in the NHL so why would you give up on Shatty before his place in the lineup is even cold? You also would be selling low on a player who could conceivably give you a nice return if his play rises to his past abilities. Your assumption that Strome will regress is not a forgone conclusion and would be removing a serviceable part prior to a season when parts are needed. There are plenty of examples of players who turned the corner and left their past teams regretting their trade, i. e., Marchessault. At some point the chips will fall will they may and JD & Gorton will not disappoint as they haven’t to date.

        • Kreider isn’t the type of player who will fall off a cliff. He’s a specimen and his skating is impeccable — he’s not losing those wheels as long as he takes care of himself (a safe assumption). This is why I think he’s a better candidate for a long term deal than say Anders Lee — oh, and he’s going to turn 29 right before a new contract kicks in. With Kreider it isn’t the term and money that concerns me as much as the other terms and conditions, i.e. NMC/NTC. Front load the contract as much as possible, he’ll be an asset later in the deal.

          However, nothing is etched in stone … if the right offer came along I would dispatch Kreider in a NY minute — but I’m going to need a young power forward with some upside for starters, or a big young center.

          Re: Strome, find me a player that is able to maintain a 22%+ shooting percentage for more than a year … and his metrics are piss poor. Again though, if Kreider goes then Strome possibly stays. There’s no Plan A or bust here, it’s about what the market will allow us to do because one way or another we need to shed some money. Best to have multiple plans in place and see which one the market ends up favoring.

          Re: Fox, I’m fine with him playing 50+ games on the farm this season, I want him to stay under 30 games this year so we keep our 2nd and move our 3rd (of which we have two now).

        • The only thing that may slow Kreider down is injury, which he has suffered the last two years. I still think he is worth resigning. It’s a gamble I know, but worthwhile.

  • Brooks today – on the topic of making room for Kreider:

    “Clearly, Buchnevich, who is likely to come in between $3.2 million and $3.5 million on a two-year deal, would have to go.”

    Maybe I am just too logical but NO organization with ANY kind of foresight (and JD and Gorts DO HAVE foresight) is going to remove Buchnevich, a young Russian just showing signs of his potential, when there are four other talented Russian’s (Panarin, Kravtsov, Igor, Rykov) and Kaapo Kakko hitting town.

    Sorry – if you disagree. And if you do, then think about it logically.

      • I thought management wanted guys to sign bridge deals Mikey? If Buch is thinking that way then I look at it as a sign of betting on himself – which I love.

          • Yeah, because he’s figuring on a big pay day in 2 years when the Rangers shed a ton of cap space. This kid (or his agent, is no fool). Why should he sign a 4-5 year deal for $4M or something like that? He sees that a couple of 50-60 point seasons will net him $7M+ and he’s sooooo close.

          • … and they’ll have a ton of cap space, that’s when you want your contract to be up. Either they’ll sign him to a more appropriate number or they’ll end up trading him as he gets close to UFA status.

    • remember Brooks also suggested earlier that it was Kreider leaving town … Brooks tosses a coin up in the air every night before he writes his articles, it’s a bit like Targaryens when they’re born. He also said Trouba would cost us a 1st, Buchnevich and DeAngelo, maybe more. I just try and block him out.

    • Two contradictory thoughts. The Rangers need cap room, but there are many ways to get there. Sure they can deal kreider, sure they can deal Buchnevich. For that matter, they maybe could deal Brady Skjei. There are just so many ways to get there, it is crazy to suggest that one cannot keep both Kreider and Buch.

      OTOH, the Rangers long term cannot afford to keep every single player you like. Buchnevich has a bright future but he also has considerable trade value. If he is going to top out at 46 pts/yr and cost $6M/yr in a couple of years, maybe he should not be part of the future. He isn’t just showing signs of his potential; he has been showing those signs all along. The question is whether he will achieve that potential or be just another player.

      Trading Buchnevich is neither ridiculous nor necessary.

      • “The question is whether he will achieve that potential or be just another player.”

        That is exactly right Ray – and how are you going to know what Buch really has? By trading him over the summer?

        That is exactly the point of recognizing Buch as being someone whose skillset could benefit greatly (and thus the team as a whole) by the influx of the Europeans.

        Simple as that – it has nothing to do with liking him or not. The only guy I didn’t like was Vesey and he is gone. And that will benefit Buch as well b/c Vesey acted like a jerk toward him.

        • The thing is that Ranger brass has had a lot better chance to figure out Buch than anyone else has. No, they don’t KNOW where he is headed, but they can make an educated guess. They may see him on the cusp of a breakout, a guy who is going to score 60-70 points a season for a while and it would be absurd to trade him. In fact, they should be trying to lock him up for a longer term. OTOH, they may see some limitations that suggest he will never be better than he is now, in which case his greatest value to the team is his trade value. or somewhere. in between. Is their appraisal right? not necessarily, but they have to act based on what they believe.

          If you buy a lottery ticket for $5 and someone offers you $100 for it before the drawing, you should take it. You don’t wait to see if it is a winning number.

          • Um bad analogy. Some tickets in THIS case are better than others, in a lottery all tickets are the same and have the same chance to be the winning ticket.

  • Why ever would you trade Nieves? There is no world in which you help a cap situation by trading a $700K player since you need bodies. And frankly, the Rangers are so thin up front that players like Nieves and McKegg are crucial to allow the Rangers to field twelve actual NHL forwards.

    I think the path should be clear. I can’t believe it would take much to deal Shattenkirk at half retained salary because I think he may be an asset at that level. However, with Trouba, DeAngelo, Fox, the Rangers do not need another offensive right defensemen. Then get the rest of the room by dealing Namestnikov or Strome, not both. Then add 1-3 additional forwards to compete with the youngsters so that they can play at the proper level. None should cost as much as $1.5M and hopefully a lot less. Toronto got Spezza for $700K; the players are out there.

  • Krieder, Buch or Skjei will be gone by training camp. Write it down. Nobody wants Shatty now. Same with Smith. Staal is going nowhere. Names or Strome need to stay (1 of the 2), but you still do not reach the $7M Cap need without CK, Buch or Skjei leaving town.

  • The path to signing Kreider is decidedly not clear.

    Sure removing Shatty must be considered but it would be selling him low and would also cost the 2nd rounder we would have to give Carolina (instead of a 3rd) if Fox plays at least 30 games. So the better move, if $ permits, is to play Shatty to rebuild his value and start Fox in Hartford. Shatty in spite of his disastrous 2 years here is very talented. It is not a certainty that he is done. It is also not a certainty that Fox is ready to be a regular dman in the NHL. So it is best to come to camp, see what KS can do and what Fox can do. RHD are in tremendous demand. It is certainly possible that KS is as good as Myers who just got 30mil for 5 years.

    I would hate to give up on Buch but that may be considered also. He is one of the Rangers more marketable assets and there may no longer be a spot for him in the top 6.

    Finally it appears that we are now “going for it” this season. The rebuild is over. That means that LHD must be addressed as it has been a disaster. Sure it would be great if Rykov and/or Hajek showed enough in the preseason to warrant a regular turn. Entirely possible that neither are ready in which case Staal and Smith will have a shot at a regular role.

    Finally removing Hank’s contract is not possible. There is not a team out there contending for the Cup with the need for a goaltender and cap space to absorb 8.5 mil. That is not going to happen.

    There will be a lot to sort out in the preseason, which should be very interesting. But make no mistake we quickly are in cap hell and will be for the foreseeable future.

  • Would anyone be up for the Patrick Marleau approach? Would you include a 1st round pick along with Staal just to get rid of him?

    • Spozo,

      Giving up a first to unload Staal no, I wouldnt. Would I entertain Dallas 3rd round pick and/or Buffalo’s 3rd round pick, to move Smith’s contract, yes. Figuring if 6.5 costs a 1rst the 4.5 should cost less. Id preffer to keep the picks, but I wouldnt mind using the clearing the cap space. We cant use our 2nd as its tied to a condition with Carolina, so would a team take 2 3rds probably not but Id still see.

  • The Sharks did not even try to sign the beloved Joe Pavelski. The Leafs gave up a first round draft pick to unload Marleau. That is what cap hell looks like. The Rangers are nowhere near cap hell.

  • I hate to say it I like Shatty. He is the best of the worst. Give him a chance with good players and you will see a good player as long as you get rid of Ruff. If we get rid of Staal and the other S it would be fine. Subtract Strome and Names and Fast and we have enough to keep Captain Kreider. But most importantly Buy out Hank. Do it for the team.

    • I don’t think Shatty is a POS, but why the hell would I get rid of 3 good depth players instead of 1 mediocre (at best) redundant D’man?

        • Didn’t I just suggest we get move Shattenkirk instead? lol We have lots of d’men who can play on the 3rd pairing, but our forward depth is more tenuous.

    • I also like Shatty, but he’s not very good at 5-on-5 scoring. And he’s always been a very good power play specialist. So if you want to rebuild his value, you’ll have to remove either Trouba or DeAngelo from the power play, which is arguably insane.

      (Or just play both Shatty and DeAngelo on the second power play unit, which is less insane.)

  • Get rid of 3 of the following 4: Shatty, Smith, Names, and Strome, and problem more than solved.

    • You only need 2 to go … and honestly, as bad as Smith was that first year he turned into a good depth swingman for us last season. I rather see Shatty go, he’s redundant.

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