To get under the cap, the Rangers may be forced to use the second buyout window

With both Pavel Buchnevich and Jacob Trouba filing for arbitration, the Rangers have the second buyout window open to them. The window begins when their final RFA that filed signs (I think) and runs for a few days. As the Rangers spend more time trying to find landing spots for salary, the probability that the second buyout window will be used grows.

As it stands today, the Rangers have $7 million in cap space with four RFAs (Trouba, Buchnevich, Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux) to sign. They will need about $14 million in cap space this year to get the rest under contract. But ideally they have closer to $18 million in cap space to account for the bonuses for Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov, otherwise those bonus cap hits roll over to next season.

That means the Rangers would be looking to clear approximately $11 million in cap space to be safe, with $7 million being the absolute minimum needed to clear. My guess is that $9 million is the goal here. There are a few gimmes, like Matt Beleskey being sent to the AHL, but that only gets the $1 million.

Assuming Jeff Gorton can’t clear enough space in trades, then buyouts are the only way to go. I’m not a big fan of buyouts this season, mostly because of the down the road impact when the Rangers might have to hand out large deals to their rookies. However I also recognize that the situation has changed, and if there is no trade market, then a buyout must be considered.

There are five four players on the buyout radar: Kevin Shattenkirk, Brendan Smith, Marc Staal, Vlad Namestnikov, and Ryan Strome. All three defensemen have two years on their contract, which means the buyout impact would be four years. The forwards are on the last year of their deals, and their impact would be two seasons.

Update: Strome can’t be bought out. He doesn’t meet the min salary requirement for the second buyout window. My bad.

Using CapFriendly’s buyout calculator, the least friendly of these buyouts is Shatty. The issue isn’t this year, it’s next year when his buyout cap hit is $6.08 million, saving the Rangers just $500k on his current cap hit. Buying out Shattenkirk helps the Rangers this year but that’s really it. Plus he has the highest dead cap space hit from 2021-2022 through 2022-2023.

Next up in the least friendly buyout list is Marc Staal. Much like Shatty, signing bonuses ruin his buyout savings. The Rangers would save $2.8 million this year and just $2 million next year. His two dead space years would be $1.2 million.

That brings us to Brendan Smith. I feel bad for Smith, who has the numbers to be a viable bottom pair defenseman, and was significantly better than half the defense last season. However that cap hit just isn’t worth it. Again due to bonuses, Smith’s buyout would help the Rangers this year to the tune of $3.4 million in savings, but just $1.2 million in savings next season. His dead space years at $1.145 million.

Namestnikov’s buyout would save the Rangers $2.6 million this year and cost them $1.3 million next year. Of course he would be in Ottawa already if the Rangers front-loaded his deal like they should have. But that’s something we can’t control anymore.

Strome’s buyout window probably passed already, since he turned 25 over the summer and the 1/3 buyout ratio doesn’t apply anymore. Strome’s buyout would save the Rangers $2.1 million this year and cost them a little over $1 million next year.

I still hate the idea of a buyout this year, but the Blueshirts may not have a choice. I can see them buying out Shattenkirk because there’s no real spot for him on the roster anymore with Trouba, Fox, and DeAngelo on the right side. That would save the Rangers $5 million this year, and coupled with Beleskey and Smith demotions gets the Rangers under this year’s cap, but really burns them next season. Alas, we shall know more once Buchnevich and Trouba finish their contracts.

"To get under the cap, the Rangers may be forced to use the second buyout window", 5 out of 5 based on 3 ratings.
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  1. Strome is not elligible to be bought out during the second window because he does not make enough money to qualify.

  2. they did this to themselves because they should have never signed Panarin without clearing the space at the trade deadline when they could have gotten better value for the players they need to trade now. If this was a rebuild they just shouldn’t have signed Panarin. We have good young kids coming and in 2 years 25.2 million would have come off the cap. Now we will have to turn these 2 year contract into 4 years because of buyouts. If we trade them then we will have to give up draft picks and prospects to get it done. Doesn’t sound like the right way to rebuild a team to me! Gorton and J.D. fell into the same temptation every other before them has. They just can’t resist getting the #1 guy on July 1st no matter what it cost this team. I didn’t think J.D. would do it but he did. Now in Feb. we will be in the playoff hunt and will trade young players and draft picks for a shot at the cup because Hank is still here and we have to try right? So much for a rebuild, yes my friends history does repeat itself.

    1. This is Sathers fault for giving Henrik a 7 year contract at age 32. a 6 year contract to Girardi at age 30. Staals contract is terrible because he got hurt …Redden bought out….Richards bought out….F’n go away Cigar Man

      1. That doesn’t discount Johnny Red theory. He is right, this situation was brought on by the current management team who knew full well before signing Panarin what Hank, and Girardi contract situation was costing them. It was a bad move on July 1 and is still a bad move today. We will have to trade (unload) some young talent that we thought was going to. be part of the rebuild. The only way I forgive them is they bring a Cup here in the next 3 years!

        It was bad business, JD!

    2. What makes you think that if they had waited until the cap space was cleared, Panarin would still be available? If they had done that, and some other team had jumped in and signed him first, they would have decimated an already bad team, and had nothing to show for it but some cap space and a couple of promising rookies. He’s still in his prime, and FA’s like him don’t come along very often.

    3. I have a credible sauce that said Panarin was all Dolan. After the Knicks lost their guy, Dolan demanded Panarin, going against all advisement! Now we watch JG scramble!
      I only mention because no one points the finger at the dope who owns our unfortunate franchise. I think it explains a lot of the Sather era too. Same ol’, same ol’.

  3. I disagree about Smith being “more friendly” of a buyout than Staal mainly because Smith can be sent down to the Wolfpack. Granted it is only a $1M+ savings each of the next 2 years, but if you couple sending him down with Buyout of Staal (and of course Belesky also going down) you will save close to $5M this upcoming season. Looking down the road to next season, the buyout vs bury for Smith contract would offset.

    Im also confused why you believe we need $14M in Cap Space to sign our 4 UFA’s? Assuming Trouba gets $7M, Buch $3M, and ADA and Lemieux both get around their Qualifying offers, that is roughly $12M required.

    Taking this and looking at the $7M+ we current ly have plus the almost $5M from a Stall buyout, Smith and Belesky Hartford assignment we will be right at our number. Worst case we reduce our roster early in the season to 21 players which saves us another $1M (or slightly under) shuttleing some of our rookies on ELC back and forth to Hartford. By Xmas, the trade lines will open up and the chacnes of moving a Names, Strome, CK (if his contract resign demands are too high) and we will be in better shape.

      1. Correct. $3M savings on Staal + $1M each for SMith and Belesky being sent down.

        Because Smith has the option of being sent down for the next two years (eliminating the cap penalty in years 3 &4) you need to calculate the savings of doing this…Meaning $2.4M cap Savings This year and $200K Next year.

  4. We do not need to worry about the Cap crunch for next year because Panarin decided to harm himself. We need to put insurance on Panarin for Dissing Putin. If you want to commit suicide that is the way to do it.

  5. you can also buyout Staal and move Smtth to Hartford which would save about the same as buying out Smith. Then you have Smith in Hartford if you need him later. Buying out Shatty makes no sense because of next year’s cap hit. In my view Staal offers the least value to the team from the standpoint of performance.

      1. Agree but you would have to pay him $5 million as an assistant. More than head coach…

      2. I’ve been harping in that for months. But that seems to be wishful thinking..but completely agree

        1. The NHL would slam the Rangers for cap circumvention. $5 million salary for an assistant? C’mon!

  6. Dave nailed it in his last paragraph….NOBODY wants Shattenkirk…buy him out and deal with the pain next season…Our team is set…nobody left to add. An avalanche of money comes off the books July 1 2021

  7. Big couple of weeks ahead, things are really heating up!

    Glenn Fry Baby – The Heat Is On…


  8. You have got to believe Gorton has called everyone in the league about Shatty, Smith, Names and Strome. He may be left with calling about players he would rather not move, like Buch, Krieder and Skjei. We put ourselves in a difficult position, and we may have to build an interesting contract with Trouba, where he gets $6m this year and next, then it jumts to $8M for the remaining 5 years.

    I see no way around putting Smith in the AHL all year either. Tough sledding ahead.

    1. “and we may have to build an interesting contract with Trouba, where he gets $6m this year and next, then it jumts to $8M for the remaining 5 years.”

      For Salary Cap purposes the Cap Hit is the Average of the entire contract…not year by year. They did this to prevent teams from trying to circumvent the cap in this way (and also protect teams from getting themselves neck deep in cap hell when a $12M season salary cannot be paid).

      1. Sheet – didn’t know that. Why have a hard cap if they use averages? Something isn’t right about that.

        1. It also works to our advantage…Remember when we traded Brass for Zib…we were able to get an extra 2nd round pick in the deal because we paid his bonus for the year and the $5M cap hit on Brass was only like $3M in actual salary.

          Using the Average prevents teams from front loading contracts on top players when they know the backend of the deal will be a net loss (play vs pay).

      2. Yes sir Gorton blew his brains out when he signed Breadman. Now he is in a pickle as he has no cap room to sign his young restricted free agents and is very vulnerable if another club presents those players with an offer sheet. My guess is Kreider will be moved and Marc Staal gets bought out.

        1. Bloomer, you honestly believe that the Rangers did not anticipate this, by signing both players?

  9. Package someone (Strome, Namestnikov but preferably a d’man) with Kreider … I hate to say that but for the long term viability of the TEAM this may be the only good option available.

    1. For all we know there may not be any problem at all with the FO and the cap. But if they originally thought moving Names, Shattenkirk, Smith and others was going to be easier I think the league hurt them with the cap limit. So in that sense they may have miscalculated. So I definitely think they are going to need to include “sweeteners” to complete some deals, so I do agree with you there.

      The problem is how “sweet” do they have to make them? Draft picks? Prospects? Players like Keane, Reunanen, Morgan Barron May have to be sacrificed. Depends on how desperate JG and JD get. I really hope this isn’t as bad as it seems.

      1. I dont think it is as bad it seems, ElGato.

        This is really a 1 year issue (and really not even that long because you have to believe Names/Strome/CK will all be much more tradable in season). Next Year we don’t have the Names and Strome contracts ($7.1M), we wont be looking to make any moves in FA, and all our players will already be signed to deals, with the exception of CK and Fast. Fast, if he remains, will not be looking at a big salary increase and CK (if he stays) would be a $2M-3M increase which is well under the $7M being removed from Names & Strome.

        We need realistically $12M in total to sign our RFA’s , and with $7M already available we only have $5M to go .

        1. It’s a 1 year issue that can become a 4 year issue if played poorly.

          Better to unload Shatty & Namestnikov for 7ths with conditional upside to a 3rd if they hit 50pts on a 50% retain.

          This isnt an auction, this is Crazy Eddie inventory blowout territory. Get it out the door for what you can ASAP.

          1. If we can get under the cap by buyout of Staal and Bury of Smith & Belesky, it is not a 4 year issue. The only way it becomes a 4 year “issue” is if we do two buyouts instead of one.

            Year 2 (20/21): We reduce our cap $7-8M with two of CK/Strome/Names off the books. We also have Girari’s Cap hit reduced by $2.5M Next season. We will potentially have 4 UFA’s Fast, CK, Names, Strome…Only CK Will command an increase and the $10M added Cap space will be fine.
            Year 3 (21/22): Hank off the books at $8.5M, If any of Staal/Shatty/Smith still around thats upwards of another $10M gone. The only p;ayers we will need to pay are our RFA’s off of their ELC’s + Buch/Lemieux/ADA depending on how they get paid this offseason.
            Year 4 (22/23): Too far ahead to even think about this point because there can be so many moving parts. It wil be the last year of Girari buyout hit as well as the last year of whichever of the three we buy out this year.

            Just by default we will be in better position with the cap in years 2 & 3 than we will be in Year 1.

          2. You are a breath of fresh air, not sure I’ve seen you before, but you are talking me off the ledge.


          3. I cant even get my girlfriend to say things that nice to me!
            All seriousness, we ar not used to rebuilding…it is a process…and we just brought in 2 fantastic players without giving up any assets (youth or picks) to set us up long term.
            As much as we want to see this team do great this season, the reality is shouldn’t care because we still have to much dead weight to rid ourselves from.

          4. If Milan Lucic can get dealt with a salary retention, don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining when anybody tells me Shatty & Namestnikov can’t get moved.

          5. Buying out Staal burying Smith & Beleskey gets you $5mm in savings; which won’t be enough to take care of the RFAs out of contract, will force the team to book any bonus overages onto the 2020-21 cap(which has a $3.7mm charge for Staal.)

            Not really seeing how this is the least bad option. It’s better than buying Shatty out, but not much.

        2. Reccer… it’s a 99% forgone conclusion that Hank and Staal are lifers. For the life of me I just don’t get it. Not after what I’ve seen this organization do to Leetch, Messier, Hadfeld, Ratelle and on and on… I’m holding out hope that JD has a little less empathy and a little more common sense with these contracts. Doubtful.

          1. Maybe these guys believe, like you apparently, that is no way to treat great Rangers. I accept that and agree with the position.

      2. I have no clue about how bad it is, but I’m going off what’s being said — not that one can trust any of this, I mean just look at the cost to get Trouba. Personally I don’t understand why Names and 50% on Smith or Shattenkirk aren’t done deals.

  10. In all fairness to Gorton – Rangers are the most improved team in the league (see Athletic column today) and also one of the youngest teams in the league. So Gorton has done an amazing job. No question we have a problem right now that the market for trades has dried up, especially with the lower than anticipated salary cap.

    I question whether bribing Staal to retire would be acceptable to the League; I suspect not. Unless things change we will have to go the buy-out route, as painful as that may be.

    1. I think it needs to be a LTIR situation with Staal — that’s the only real viable way to do this. He has a disability which affects his play — so he gets paid his money as an injured player and stands behind the bench.

      1. It’s a hard case to make. Staal’s eye injury was in 2013. He returned and it is not the increased effect of the injury that causes his steady decline, it’s his age and related diminished mobility, changes to the game in general that made his skill set a liability, etc. Different than Callahan who was diagnosed with degenerative back disease, letting Tampa off the hook; degenerative being the key word.

      2. I suggested this very point before. The guy, Staal, is legally blind in one eye, and has a history of concussions, so he would qualify. We have insurance for this reason, so he gets his pay, we get cap relief, and rid ourselves of his crappy play.

        As for Shittypants, that is, was, and will always be a terrible contract that we signed with a player who is piss poor defensively, and we just screwed ourselves going after this clown in the first place. Everyone out there knew he is lousy, but we signed him just the same!!!!!!!!!

        1. At 50% he has some value (not much), Shittypants as you like to call him. Re: Staal, it could hardly be a concussion issue as he’s been cleared of that and has played (unless they can document something we don’t know) … but the legally blind in one eye can be argued, it has affected his play to the point that he just isn’t competitive enough with that permanent condition (disability).

    2. He’s done a great job, no blame there … and in all honesty who would have thought trading a guy like Namestnikov would be all that difficult, or taking on 50% of salary for a guy like Shattenkirk or Smith wouldn’t make them somewhat desirable. We see dumb trades almost weekly, I think for some teams out there these are actually good moves that would improve their team in the short term.

      1. The problem is that even the dumb GM’s know this is a buyer’s market. Agree in particular about Names – 4 mil on a 1 year “show me” contract should be very attractive to say Columbus and the few other teams with cap space. Instead they can sit back and “charge” more for their cap space.

        1. Now they know … and you can play a game of chicken and lose. A smart GM would just offer up a 4th or 5th rounder for him, you could always get that back (and MORE) at the trade deadline if you want. Same for Strome.

  11. Having stated this before I love Nank,one of my 3 best goaltenders.But his salary for the next 2 years does not match his recent play.How about redoing his final 2 years to like 5M or 5.5?He states he wants to retire being a ranger so help the team out.How much money does he need? That and maybe a buyout.Bury smith in the minors and you should have money to get some people signed and perhaps an extension for CK. Now would be the time to help your team and get them back on track.Don’t know about Trouba sinc this is not the first time going to arbitration.Than just live with the ruling and hope you can resign him during the year.Maybe playing here for awhile might convince him and her it’s a good place to play,And who knows you just might get a stopgap 2C to boot.

    1. michael

      I don’t know for certain, but unlike other sports, we can’t renegotiate Hank’s contract. I believe management would have done so already. Now if that’s legal, Hank can stay, and his reward would be he stays within the organization in some capacity for life, ala Rod Gilbert!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. Michael – I don’t recall one instance where a player voluntarily reduced his salary to help his team’s cap situation. I suspect the Players Association would not be happy at all if one did. I think it is a pipe dream to think Hank will do so. Afraid we are stuck with his 8.5 m hit for 2 more years.

      It was unnecessary for Sather to go out that many years when he gave Hank that contract but Sather was old already and didn’t care about the out years, just wanted to try to win the Cup. But that is old news and spilt milk at this point.

  12. The problem with the buyouts is that it extends the agony out another 3 or 4 years. They would be much better off practically giving away Shattenkirk, Namestnikov, Belesky or Smith instead of having a large amount of zombie dead cap space folllowing them around eating at their cap for the next four years.

    1. No kidding Peter. Why would anyone accept a bad contract, even for nothing. The reality is we have to enhance such a deal by taking back some of the salary (league allows up to 50%) or adding a sweetener IE draft picks. That is how Toronto was able to “trade” Marleau to the Canes. I do think the Names contract is not a bad one in a normal market but it seems the Rangers are having trouble even moving that one.

      1. Do you want to get rid of Shattenkirk? Here’s the deal: Shattenkirk +25-50% retained, Tarmo Reunanen, a fifth round draft choice to some stupid team for a Fourth rounder. I think I’d do that.

      2. Yes, they will have to either retain salary and offer other sweeteners to get someone to take some of these players. Agreed.

  13. Send Smith to Hartford, trade both Namestnikov and Strome for picks. Take bad picks if you have to…pennys on the dollar. Not ideal, but they are in a jam here.

    Isn’t that $10mm+ without any buyouts?

  14. Staal isn’t going anywhere. Gorton will dump Shattenkirk somehow, and Smith if possible if not Smith goes to Hartford. Gorton is going to have to give up a asset, pick, prospect, or roster player to move Shattenkirk. But he has to do it Shattenkirk is a killer back on the point.

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