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.
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",