As more time progresses, it looks more like the Rangers are going to have to trade Chris Kreider. While that trade alone is not enough to get them under this year’s cap, it looks to be the path of least resistance in staying under the cap next season as well, before the Rangers clear $25.2 million in salary. This especially holds true if Kreider is looking for $7+ million in his next deal. It is worth noting, though, that we don’t know what Kreider is seeking, and it is all conjecture until then.
However in the event that the Rangers and Kreider have actually agreed on terms, but are concerned about the cap crunch next season, there are ways to keep him around that haven’t necessarily been talked about yet.
Option 1: Go the route of Mats Zuccarello and Henrik Lundqvist
Remember when the Rangers were in their cap crunches and had to worry about signing, at separate time, Hank and Zucc to contract extensions? They didn’t have the cap space to do so at the time. Instead, both accepted one-year “bridge” deals at a pay raise but not necessarily market value, and then signed their full extensions the following season.
For Kreider, this would look similar. He’d sign a one-year deal at, say $5.5 million, covering his age-29 season of 2020-2021. In January of 2021, he’d be eligible for an extension. In the wink-wink-nudge-nudge agreement, the Rangers would ink him to his extension at that point.
How this would work is simple. Let’s say the Rangers and Kreider agree in principle to a five year extension at $6.5 million per season this summer. Kreider signs a one year extension at $5.5 million for the 2020-2021 season. In January 2021, he then inks a four year extension at $6.75 million per season –preferably front loaded– and that covers the full dollar amount.
It’s a path the Rangers have taken before with two players they wanted as part of their future. If the Rangers view Kreider as part of the future and a leader in the locker room, then this is one way to get it done. It doesn’t necessarily solve any current issues with the cap, but then again trading him doesn’t really solve those issues by itself either.
Use Ottawa to gain LTIR space
Ottawa is a joke right now. I feel bad for their fans, since the Sens are basically making trades to save money and don’t care about dressing a competitive team. The player that I’d like to target here is Clarke MacArthur, who is on LTIR and has one year left on his deal at $4.75 million, both in salary and in cap hit.
This is admittedly a stretch, but if for some reason Brendan Smith is ok going to that mess, the Sens would save some cash. Smith has a $4.35 million cap hit this year, but is making $4.525 million. That’s still less than MacArthur by $200k, so there’s monetary savings for Ottawa. The kicker is that Smith only gets $3.35 million the following year, so the Sens get free money against the cap that year. The Rangers would simply LTIR MacArthur this season.
This is full on galaxy brain, since first Smith would need to waive his NTC. Second, and this is something we don’t know, is if MacArthur’s contract is insured. If it is, then insurance pays his contract and Ottawa gets his $4.75 million cap hit for possibly zero (depending on how much is insured) out of pocket dollars. Third, LTIR doesn’t work as “freeing up” cap space – it means a team can go over the cap by that amount, but they cannot accrue cap space all season. That makes the trade deadline difficult to navigate. However that may not be a big concern because the Rangers are likely not adding on salary at the deadline just to make the playoffs.
Is there a match with Kevin Shattenkirk and Tampa?
I’ve been beating this drum for a while, which likely means I’m way off on my analysis here. But I think there’s a fit with Shattenkirk and Tampa. Shatty still has the offensive mind and skills to be an effective RD. Tampa’s RD depth behind Victor Hedman is…Jan Rutta? That’s a legitimate question, I don’t know.
Kevin Shattenkik with retained salary makes an interesting match here. However the problem is two-fold for Tampa. The first is Brayden Point – he’s unsigned and is going to command a ton of money. The second is that they will have to dump a roster player to make room, and I’m unsure there are any players there that work. The guys that jumped out at me – Rutta and Brayden Coburn – were both signed this offseason. That’s a bad look.
Perhaps there isn’t a fit here anymore.
Toronto needs RD help
Speaking of Shattenkirk and matches, Toronto is run similarly to Tampa, and they also need RD help. Cody Ceci is my target here. Ceci for Shattenkirk, both at 50% retained. The Leafs take on an extra $1 million in cap space, but Shatty is miles better than Ceci. The Rangers free up a little space this year, but a full $3+ million next year, the important year for Kreider’s extension.
This is less than ideal for both clubs, so I doubt anything materializes here. First, Toronto still has to sign Marner, and that’s going to cost a ton. Second, they just landed Ceci, albeit in their own cap dump of Nikita Zaitsev. If the Ottawa thought is galaxy brain, double it for this one."Finding creative ways for the Rangers to keep Chris Kreider",