Lack of leverage leaves Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux with limited contract options

The end of August is here. The 2019 Traverse City Prospects Tournament is just around the corner. The Rangers are back in the states and preparing for training camp. Thoughts are already shifting towards roster construction and cap space. Yet two important players remain unsigned: RFAs Tony DeAngelo and Brendan Lemieux.

Both restricted free agents have very little leverage and, if rumors are true, the Rangers are taking advantage of this and barely budging off their qualifying offers for both players. Those single year qualifying offers are for a shade under $875,000. It’s understandable that both players are reluctant to sign those deals, but options are limited and time is running out.

For both players, they appear to be down to two options. Sign the contract, or holdout into the start of the season. There is the option of an offer sheet, but it takes two to tango. It looks like no teams around the NHL are willing to commit cap space to two unproven, yet promising RFAs.

For DeAngelo, the issue is inconsistency. He’s on his third team in three years after off-ice issues plagued him. David Quinn appeared to get through to him, and DeAngelo had the best season of his career last season. But now with Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox in the mix, DeAngelo’s role as PP1 QB, in which he excelled, is in question. He’s one of the top transition defensemen in the game, but he struggles mightily in the defensive zone. Are the Rangers willing to commit to a multi-year deal in the $2-$3 million range based off 61 good games, especially given the cap situation and the Chris Kreider situation? It’s a sticky situation, and the wrong move here could have long term rebuild implications. How much should the Rangers commit to a player who is the 3RD and shifting to a PP2 role?

As for Lemieux, his situation is a little different. His first full season was last season, playing in 63 games between Winnipeg and the Rangers. His 19 games with the Rangers were good, but like DeAngelo, it’s too small of a sample size to make any long-term commitment. Lemieux brings a different type of sandpaper, agitator game to the Rangers that they lack, but the jury is still out if he’s more like Sean Avery’s first run on Broadway or Sean Avery’s second run on Broadway. The former is worth spending money on, the latter not so much.

For both players, the qualifying offer represents an opportunity as a “show me” deal. Prove it wasn’t a fluke, and then get paid. The Blueshirts have taken this approach before, but rarely has it extended this far into the offseason.

Lemieux’s deal will get done soon because his one year market value is around is QO amount. DeAngelo’s situation is different, as his role is diminishing and he might not put up the point totals he did last year due to ice time and opportunities. His camp knows this, and wants the money up front now. It is not the best situation for him.  But with little leverage, what can be done?

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  • this is an interesting situation and I mostly agree with your assessment here. Where I differ is I think ADA will have about the same role as last year. Fox is still young and not played in the NHL. He’s better suited to start as a 3RD. He could even start in Hartford for a period of time, which keeps ADA at 2RD. ADA may get less PP time, but if he’s effective Quinn could be forced to play him and not rush Fox.

    Where things do get interesting is about 2 years from now, when Nils Lundqvist should be looking to be pushing for a spot on the team. If he’s the real deal then ADA becomes odd man out. (assuming Fox works out as well)You want ADA playing well to pump up his trade value. It also would not hurt his trade value to have him on a fairly cheap contract, which is why, with ADA, I think we should offer up something more than the QO. He’s worth more than that. I would even say if we could get him at $2 mill for say 3 years that would be a risk worth taking. I realize we don’t have the cap space today, but the next chip to fall will be Namestnikov, Strome, Kreider, etc. If we are going to move someone, we should think about doing it soon and signing ADA to a longer term and dollar amount.

    On Lemieux, a one year deal is fine. Maybe throw him a little extra on the one year deal.

    These 2 bring the grit element we have lacked prior to their arrival. They don’t move the needle like all the other pieces we got this summer, but they do play an important role on the team for very little cap space.

    • Contrary to many here, I do not believe that the Rangers are planning to trade anybody in the near term – so there is no “next chip to fall”. Obviously, if the Rangers come to the decision that they are not going to be able to come to an agreement on a new contract for Kreider, they will have to carefully weigh what to do with him going forward, but for now, I expect the Rangers to stand pat.

      On trading Namestnikov and Strome, I make two observations. First, if there was going to be a trade, why has it not already happened? Why wait until teams have mostly set their rosters? Why not do it to avoid the Shattenkirk buyout which will sting next year? Second, the Ranger forward corps is thin. Excluding Kravtsov, Andersson, McKegg, Nieves, the Rangers have eleven forwards – if everyone is healthy. That means they need two of those four in NY if they carry 13 forwards. Subtract Names and Stroke and you need all four. The Rangers are hoping to make the postseason this year. Do we really want that entire quartet? We don’t know Kravtsov will be ready from day on (I think he will need some time in Hartford). Andersson was far from an NHLer last year (actually terrible in Hartford as well). And no one is excited about the last two. And this is with everyone healthy.

      Trading Names and Strome comes at a price to this year’s team. It is a price I do not believe management wants to pay. Moreover, at his salary, it is likely no one wants Namestnikov.

      • I think, eventually, either Names and/or Strome will be traded. They have to be traded. What’s the point of keeping them? They are blocking the young centers.

        So, what are the reasons why they are both still here?

        #1. The Rangers are ok with keeping them to start, to hedge against the young players not developing as quickly as the Rangers would like.
        #2. Build up both players’ trade value and deal them during the season or at the trade deadline, where teams will be more amenable to obtaining them since the cap hit will not be large by then.
        #3. Gorton totally overplayed his hand with both of them and he is now stuck with them, for now.

        Of the 2, Strome “may” have some long-term value for the Rangers, but I think the Rangers envision Zib, Chytil, Howden, and Andersson as their centers at some point.

        ADA and Lemieux are going no where, and they will either sign their QOs, play overseas, whereby they would go through this same scenario again next year, or hold out. If they’re smart, they will sign and make their case for a better contract next year. K. Miller is set to take ADA’s spot in 2020-21, so it would behoove ADA to fight for his spot now.

        • Let’s be clear. Barring unexpected developments, Names and Strome will not be back next year. On that we agree. I also agree that there’re scenarios where the Rangers might like to keep Strome. Our only disagreement is on timing.

          I believe that timing depends both on the evolution of the team and on trade value – and I believe both favor starting the season with the two players. Trade value is the easy one. They are overpaid and hence worth little now, especially Names. However, for a quarter of a season at half salary, Namestnikov carries a cap hit of only $500K. That could be a fairly attractive commodity for a team looking for depth in the playoffs – especially for a contender beset with a couple injuries up front.

          Concerning evolution of the team, there is both the season start and the spring. The spring is both simple and complicated. If the Rangers don’t gel, obviously you deal players that you are not going to keep at the deadline. If however, the Ranger youth come along well – but not all of them so that the Rangers are both legitimate contenders and relatively shallow, they may be tempted to hang on to these veterans – a future vs. present dilemma we have seen so often before.

          Where I disagree most strongly with those here is concerning the start of the season. I expect most of Buchnevich, Kakko, Chityl, Howden, Fox, DeAngelo, Hajek to make this team — and the Rangers will welcome Trouba and Panarin. I want to see the Rangers have a winning attitude and a disciplined culture. That is very important both for morale and development of the substantial number of young players. That is sabotaged by a youth over merit attitude. I don’t want to see Kravtsov until he is ready (which I suspect will be around January). Ditto Andersson (whom I expect will be ready never). Ditto Rykov et al. And so the Rangers need Strome and Names at the start of the season.

          Two things about our Kravtsov disagreement. We agree he is a great prospect. We disagree on when he will be ready. I am fine with that – pretty clearly neither of us knows just how ready he is. One of us is wrong and it could easily be me. My big issue though is the general attitude (and I don’t know that you share it) that Kravtsov (and others) should play no matter what. It is perhaps more exciting to watch tastes of the future and improving players than to watch say a Marc Staal, who has nowhere to go but down. But players that are not ready are bad for the other four skaters on the ice – and likely don’t serve themselves well either.

          So many want to see players used where they will succeed, but oddly that is never Hartford.

          • Raymond, I may be one of the few to believe that the Rangers will dump their vets by the trade deadline, regardless of their position in the standings.

            So that means Names, Strome, and yes, Kreider (if he is not extended by the trade deadline), will be traded, even if the Rangers are in first place in their division in Feb.

            As much as the Rangers want to make the playoffs this year, for the revenue, they care more about the players that will play for them the following year, meaning the younger players and any vets that have a long-term future here, and that’s CK, only if he’s extended. If not, then he’s gone too.

          • I agree on including Kreider with the other two. I think your view is consistent with the idea that the Rangers will stay focused on the rebuild no matter what and be sellers at the deadline. But I can’t help but believe there is a line where if the Rangers are above the line, they are buyers and below the line sellers. Historically, the line has been very low in NY, much lower than in most places, even absurdly low. I agree with you to the extent that management is planning to be sellers this year. I even think that they will ignore a 2-5% chance of winning the Cup to be sellers (which they never would have before). I would not personally criticize them if they were in first place and chose to be sellers. But I don’t think they will do it – at least not with players they saw as important to a truly promising 2020 Cup drive.

          • I think the chances of the Rangers being “buyers” at the trade deadline is slim to none.

  • ADA could probably make more money in Switzerland, would have to make a decision quickly before clubs run out of roster/import spots.

    • oh well…I want some one who wants to prove himself on Broadway…why?? Because that is a sure path to success. So, to the guy that wants to go elsewhere? I, sir, bid you Adieu

      • Devils advocate position: he’ll make more money there than here next year(and probably the year after that) and wouldn’t be eligible for the expansion draft. But if he were to play overseas and came back, he’d be arbitration eligible.

        It’s galaxy brain thinking, but it’s possible.

    • You got down voted twice, so I’ll see if I can beat that. LOL. I thought Dave was being nice when he said ADA’s issue was “inconsistency”. His issue is that he has been a meathead and has worn out his welcome with two organizations despite having NHL talent. However, last year he seemed to shake the “million dollar talent with a 2 cent head” type of play and off the ice. He needs to repeat that again this year if he wants to score a big payday. As Dave noted, the Rangers made enough moves this offseason where it could be easy to walk away if he returns to his old form.

    • You could have left the “Jersey Shore” out and still made your point (I am not from JS).

  • If either player (or perhaps both) play hardball and do not come to camp, they will be crippling their careers. They can keep pushing for more up until camp opens, but once it does, they will either sign or not become part of the Ranger future plans.

    • Good point, especially for ADA. The #2 RD slot would seem to be a competition between Fox and ADA. Not being in camp puts DeAngelo one step behind.

  • ADA had a good season that offers promise, but you do exaggerate his achievements. On the power play, he was nowhere near as successful as Pionk, so “excelled as PP1 QB” is just fiction. As for his defensive play, he did not play PK and was shielded from tough assignments, so he wasn’t really tested. OTOH, in the role he was assigned at even strength, he basically did fine from a defensive perspective and was excellent at moving the puck up the ice. If he is given more responsibility, we don’t know how things will turn out. Optimistically, he may be respectable immediately and eventually even good. Pessimistically, he may be awful. I’d sooner bet on him though than Pionk who has already shown himself not up to the task of tough assignments.

    The contract issue is a tough one. If I am the Rangers, I would offer him a two year contract at $1.6M per as a simply practical matter. Assuming the Rangers can resign Kreider, the biggest salary cap issue for 2020-2021 is a possible spike in ADA’s salary (when he will be arbitration eligible) and this sidesteps the matter. As for the coming season, the Rangers have about $1M in cap space left and giving an extra $700K to DeAngelo will force them to be creative, but should be manageable. On the other hand, going up to $2M likely will necessitate additional roster moves and so would seem to be a non-starter.

    I don’t know if ADA would be interested in such an offer or not.

    Finally, the Kreider negotiations are important. The cap pictures with and without Kreider are different scenarios and may impact the negotiations.

    • I’m starting to get the feeling that, maybe just maybe, these guys are not a given in the NYR plans going forward. Therefore, their best interests are served by signing and showing what they can do in the NHL. Then, perhaps, the Rangers sign them…or not…we shall see…

  • The Rangers will get ADA signed. RHD-men with talent are a desired commodity in the NHL. And He is talented. There was a rumor on Hockey Buzz that the Oilers were hot for DeAngelo and Gorton wasn’t even interested. Probably BS but you never know.

    If anything, his handedness will make him decent trade bait… and there are a few guys in the pipeline that can replace him eventually.

  • If the future of this team hinges on the likes of ADA and Lemieux, god help us! Sign the offers and then prove you’re worth more! If not, then go to Europe or whatever, and see how that works out. Either way, I think the NYR will be just fine!

  • These 2 players seem to be selfish. Let them sit out and see how long we actually miss them. The league and players association made these rules. If you don’t like them. go to Europe and play.

    • Why throw out there the pejorative word “selfish” when you have no clue regarding the discussions between the players, their agents and the club? There are a trove of unsigned RFA’s presently in the NHL. They are seeking the best deals they can get and that is a business decision having nothing to do with being ‘selfish’.

    • I don’t see them as being “selfish”. They’re just trying to make as much money as they can while they’re still playing. I think most of us would do the same thing. On the other hand, I’m not in favor of offering them any more. Neither one of them has shown enough over a full season to be worth any more. If they prove themselves this season, their value will go up, whether here, or with whatever team they’re traded to.

    • Why throw out the pejorative word “selfish” when you have no clue about what the discussions between the players, their agents and the club have entailed? There is a trove of unsigned RFA’s currently in the NHL. They all seek the best deal they can get and that is a business decision which has nothing to do with being “selfish'”.

  • As far as these players possibly holding out is concerned, I’d much rarther that both, especially DeAngelo, get themselves into camp on time. Training camp in the NHL is too short IMO and I believe that defensemen need all the time that they can get picking up the system, establishing some chemistry with the player who might be their regular partner, etc.

  • No reason at all to give these guys anything over the QO’s. They have no leverage, cap space is extremely tight, and these guys both have about half a season of above average play in the NHL under their belt.

    I don’t want to lose either one. But c’mon….they are both prime examples of players that need to prove way more before a big payday. It’s all about leverage, and they have none. Get to camp, play well, and the money will be there. They really have no choice. Sitting out will ruin their careers, so get on with it already.

    I think they can survive on $800,000+. It is NYC and all, but I think they’ll be alright. One year ago, both of these players had the very real possibility of playing in the AHL for a tenth of that.

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