Thoughts on a Friday

I spent a good amount of the morning trying to figure out what to write about, and I came up with nothing that would be a full length post. Instead I had a bunch of little things that are more statements than posts.

1. We are all very excited about the rebuild and how well it has gone so far. Let’s be patient though. Kaapo Kakko isn’t going to be a star overnight. He’s going to have a learning curve here. He’s not going to dominate from Day One. So, being impatient New Yorkers, let’s cut him some slack and be patient, ok?

2. Ditto Vitali Kravtsov.

3. Lindy Ruff is still a coach, and it looks like he’s not going anywhere this year. There will likely be two new faces on the blue line this year, but it looks like the rest of the group may remain the same. It’s making me wonder if Ruff is just a transitional coach, and when the real youth on the blue line is ready, they will go in a different direction? Maybe it’s just me being optimistic. But it’s not like the Blueshirts had a ton of rookies on defense. Neal Pionk not withstanding, it’s really been just Tony DeAngelo. Adam Fox this year – but there’s still four or five kids that are either in the AHL or other leagues that are projected to make the NHL roster in the next few years. Is that when Ruff goes? We know he has to, but perhaps it’s a timing thing?

4. The feeling I’m getting is that the Rangers will trade Kevin Shattenkirk and bury Brendan Smith in the AHL. Marc Staal is likely staying throughout the end of his contract, so I’d expect him to get significant ice time. It likely won’t be top pairing like last year with Pionk, so that’s good. I’d expect that time to go to Brady Skjei. I can see DeAngelo dragging him around all season, that pairing had minimal success mostly due to DeAngelo being more of a positive than Staal a negative.

5. A lot gets made of taxes in the offseason, and it’s mostly from larger market teams (note: BAD large market teams). Yet I never hear a player citing taxes as a reason for going somewhere. I think the last time it got cited was when Robinson Cano signed in Seattle. Artemi Panarin took less money in his salary and got hit with a higher tax rate to sign in New York. Maybe have a better pitch than “taxes!”. Or don’t be a train wreck of an organization. That helps too.

6. Speaking of pitches, the Rangers have had a good run of years where they had a great pitch to free agents. Until two seasons ago, it was “play for a Stanley Cup contender.” Last year they didn’t sign any big fish. This year it’s “look at how great this rebuild is with all this young skill, you’re going to have a blast and you’ll compete shortly.” Always Be Closing.

7. This is a unique offseason for the Rangers. Usually by now, the roster is more or less set and we have an idea of who is going to break camp. This year, the Rangers need to make moves just to be cap compliant. More is coming, and it’s going to be big moves too. It may not be until September, but something else is coming. Also the roster is not set either, with a lot of positions up for grabs. Makes you wonder how camp will go.

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  • Cap issues will make the coming weeks very interesting. Who will go, who will stay and what we can actually get in return will all be answered. We could have the best top line in the Metro division – no joke.

    To me, next season is all about our 2nd year players. Will they step up or step down. The new kids need some time, but I expect some shining moments.

    I have a feeling Lemieux will be more than expected. Provides some grit and energy.

    As far as getting Artemi, I think no one puts on a show like the MSG folks. I believe he wanted to come here, but saw the Isles as a good option. We showed him money, and a promise to lead a young core of talent that he can be the next coming of “Messier”. This was something important to him and should not be discounted.

    The defense – Oy. If we only had the option to play the top 6 regardless of contract. We shall see how this all plays out, but this is where it will get interesting. Lindy Ruff has some abilities, but he also has liabilities on the ice. He needs to teach and learn – but can that old dog learn some new tricks? I think he was a safety net for DQ last year and I do not see him lasting this whole year.

    We should have a good, yet interesting season. LGR

  • 4. I think Shattenkirk’s partial NTC and just the thought that he just doesn’t have a lot of value at a $3.3 million salary he’s getting bought out. There will be a cap savings of over 5 million this year but a big hit next season. We could use the money this year and next season’s cap hit can be offset by Girardi’s and Belesky cap reduction, Namestikov and Strome coming off the books also.

    It now comes down, IMO, to whether we trade or keep Kreider, if kept then Namestikov has to be traded now.


    95% of his money is in signing bonuses which will be taxed at the Florida tax rate, which is zero.

    That bonus money gets taxed at a 25% federal rate instead of 40% because it’s up front.

  • other than 5 forwards and 4 d men and 1 goalies we have no conclusive idea of who will be in camp. makes for a loooong 3 months till traverse city but should have milestones along the way to become cap compliant.

  • First off, a big thank you to David, Pat, and all the writers that contribute to make our Ranger fandom stronger than ever. It is a lot of work and a big commitment, so thank you for your time and service to us.

    #1 and #2) Kakko and Krav, we have something really special here. Not one, but two potential home grown forward stars. Brings us back to the Amonte/Weight/Kovalev days.
    #3) Ruff should not be behind the bench, sorry. Give him a consulting job, anything, but behind the bench.
    #4) Staal is staying. Staal is staying. Staal is staying. I hope he plays less than 18 sheltered minutes per night, on the 3rd pair. Not 20+. Shatty appears to be the odd man out, unless all of Smith, Strome, and Names are all dumped without salary retention, then it is possible to keep Shatty, but I think that he is traded. Skjei-Trouba, Hajek/Rykov-DeAngelo, Staal-Fox.
    #5) The fans make a big deal about the tax thing. Not the players. I don’t see players flocking to FL as FAs.
    #6) It’s a good time to come to the Rangers.
    #7) A lot more changes coming, for sure. Trades should be happening in the next 3 to 5 weeks, as other teams’ cap spaces get settle, and they know what they have to work with.

    • Unfortunately you’re right about Staal. Out of the three “S” defenseman he is easily worst and its not even close.

      • Agreed my friend, but the most loved.

        The Rangers do have a serious flaw when it comes to certain players, like Marc. Hey, we sympathize because Marc was derailed by injuries, but does that mean he gets a free pass and stay on the team? When there are other, better options? The Rangers seem to think so.

        I would rather him go and keep Shatty on the left side.

        • Very true. They sometimes have to much loyalty to certain players. I would like to keep Shattenkirk too. I would actually rather have Smith over Staal at this point.

    • Thank you for the kind words, we really appreciate it.

      Big thank you to everyone here who reads and comments and interacts. Without you guys, this blog wouldn’t exist.

    • The tax rate in NYC is one thing and who cares when you make that much money.
      I just can’t believe Panarin actually wants to live in NYC.
      Has he ever walked the streets or been on the subway?
      The city is a cesspool and it’s not improving.

  • 1&2 yes
    3 Sooner better than later
    4 Trouba will be top pair Skjei
    5 Just don’t live in the 5 boroughs and you avoid NYC taxes
    6&7 Yes!

  • Lots of good times ahead. I am sure Gorton is piecing together a very interesting puzzle right now. Needs about $7M and also need to sign Trouba. Hopefully Jacob is team-friendly enough to make a deal that pays him a bit less this year, and more in the future when more dollars are available.

    The Shatty buyout looks like the only way to go. Such a shame that we cannot move him. We hardly knew the uninjured Kevin.

    Still of the mindset that another unforeseen deal will be made. Providing a sweetener for someone to take Shatty off our hands.

    Need to figure out a way to keep Krieder. He just adds a dimension no one else can supply. Still think Colorado is interested, but Gorton not ready to pull that trigger yet. Would like to see Names and Strome both moved instead.

    • I concur, again, on the need to keep Kreider. The Rangers will be a much better team with him on the roster than without him. They can lose other players in order to keep him. Make it so, JG!

    • Concerning Shattenkirk, we know virtually nothing. Unless someone has inside information, all they know is that the Rangers are not close to a deal that they like. I know that if I were Jeff Gorton, I would be thrilled to get a second or third round draft pick for Shattenkirk with no retained salary. That won’t happen of course, but there are many other possibilities that may happen which are far more favorable than giving up a high draft pick to get someone to take him off our hands at half salary retained. It may be that no deal has happened because JG is aiming for only $2M salary retained with something coming back the other way.

      However, the time for action has now begun. It may very well be that the best UFA RH defenseman on the market is Dan Girardi. Certainly the cupboard is stripped bare. It is now clear that teams that need a right D will have to trade for one. So the market should clarify rather quickly.

      • The Rangers are trying to trade all the dead wood contracts, including Smith.

        Whomever cannot be moved, will be buyout candidates with the 2nd buyout window, since Buch and Trouba filed for arbitration, opening that 2nd window.

        • I think it would be best to send Smith to Hartford in case of injuries. He’s not a bad option to have. He’s just to expensive.

          • Could be what they do with him. The Shatty buyout is brutal the 2nd year and may be the incentive to trade him for 50% retention, if he is one of the Rangers that go.

    • I’m pretty sure that the arbitration will come in on the Rangers side; the problem becomes that with a 1yr deal, the team has to give him enough rope to let him take off, but not enough that they have to pay fair value to lock him in January 1.

      As for Trouba, nobody knows about D, which is dangerous. Maybe Vally was dogging Trouba’s role to poison the week for the arbiter.

      Whichever way, they got a month to deal Namestnikov, Shattenkirk, Strome and (gonna get blasted for this) Fast in order to clear the decks. Either that or a ton of buyouts.

      Fast will move in a heartbeat. Strome will move straight up, Shatty & Namestnikov are 50% retains.

      That gets you around $9mm on top of what’s currently available.

      • Where it gets funky is somebody like ADA.

        If he takes the QO, fine, but in this environment might price himself out of a job if Fox is as good as he was in Slovakia.

        Next couple of years, those 3rd pair/4th line types will have to be below ELC max kind of numbers.

      • Namestnikov could be a 25% …

        I would pay ADA more than a QO, there’s no question that Shattenkirk is well below ADA on the depth chart and Fox has yet to play a game. Sure Fox may supplant him over time, but it isn’t happening this year (I suspect).

        • On a 1 year deal a 25% retain might work because of term. The problem is you have to ask for less/nothing because he’s just not as good as you apparently think he is. But the imperative is getting him off the books.

          CBA 50.5(e)(iii)F allows the Rangers to get credits for a retained salary player loaned to the minors.

          So Namestnikov gets dealt as on a 50% retain, then gets buried. The Rangers retained salary drops to $1.5mm.

          A 25% retained it starts at $1mm, if he gets buried, it goes up to $775k

          • So you’re saying that the team that trades for Namestikov has to agree to bury him for the season in the AHL, just so it could benefit the Rangers? Well I’m sure they want to be well compensated for this favor. I’m not giving up a quality prospect or a draft pick to do this. Just doesn’t make sense PLUS you need to find a team willing to do this. Too far-fetched.

          • No, you can’t agree to anything because that is cap circumvention 101.

            What I’m arguing is that Namestnikov has no value compared to his wages.

            To expect anything back without retaining max salary at his price point is a fools errand.

          • Er, Namestnkov is a good player … not worth $4m a year, but he’s more than adequate as 3rd line player. Who would trade for him and then bury him? Plus from a value perspective he should at least get you a mid-round pick, this is a guy a team could easily flip at the trade deadline for a 3rd … unfortunately we don’t have the luxury to keep him around.

          • You(in all likelihood) have to move him in basically a flat cap environment.

            So it’s a guy on inflated pay on an expiring contract that teams can find an equivocal player within for much cheaper.

            You will have to pay to for another team to take Namestnikov’s contract on.

            Production wise he might be worth a 3rd(and I’d argue that) but in context you’d be lucky to get a 6th for him.

          • I doubt teams can find an equivalent player for much less, they can find a “lite” version for less – perhaps. I would actually like to keep Namestnikov if he could be signed to $3m or less given his age and versatility. I think that’s the point at which he has real value, but since this is about cap space and trying to keep Kreider I say sayonara. I would suggest Strome is in a similar situation. There are teams out there that could use these guys, especially around $3m and on expiring contracts (25%). Teams can flip these guys come the deadline and definitely come out ahead if we don’t push for too much in return.

  • Any competent tax attorney and accountant can minimize the tax differential — and in NY we have some of the best of them.

    I wouldn’t close the door on making trades just yet, it’s still early and teams that lost out on some free agent signings are taking stock in what their options may be.

    I still prefer Smith over Shattenkirk and Staal, Smith is versatile and could even allow us to go with 22 rostered players for a time … unfortunately Shattenkirk and Staal are protected by clauses in their contracts.

    Namestnikov and Strome are overpaid somewhat. Better one of them being moved as opposed to Kreider — for this year’s cap the difference in salaries are minor.

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