Analysis

The Rangers have commitment issues and it could cost them

With a slew of New York Rangers on bridge deals approaching termination of contracts, this leaves the team with some tough decisions.

Admin note: Welcome our newest writer Karly! Karly used to write for Blue Line Station a few years back before taking a hiatus. She’s with us now and we are very excited to have her. Follow here @krredpath.

With the trade deadline just over a month away, rumors have been flying surrounding some big names on the New York Rangers roster. Most notable in the past 72 hours has been Chris Kreider, who will become an unrestricted free agent as his four-year contract expires at the end of the season.

Based on how specific the information released is — and because it has come from a insider source in TSN’s Darren Dreger — it seems that the Rangers trading Kreider is extremely feasible.

The team will need to put up $6 million toward the Kevin Shattenkirk buyout next year. In addition, the decision to invest in players like Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba, who both have larger price tags, simply means there is more money tied up.

While trading Kreider will resolve the decision around one player will be looking for a long term contract and alleviate some of the hit on the cap, there are others who need to be evaluated for extensions.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the things management will have to take a look at.

Those Bridge Deals

The Rangers signed five players to one to three-year deals between 2017 and 2019.

Jesper Fast’s three-year contract ends at the end of the season. Tony DeAngelo and Brendan Lemeiux each signed one-year contracts this summer that will make them both restricted free agents at the end of the year. Ryan Strome and Pavel Buchnevich each signed a two-year deals that will expire in 2021.

In light of this past week, perhaps most notable to mention is Tony DeAngelo. The 24-year-old is having a breakout year, meaning the next contract the Rangers give him will likely be more significant than if they had committed to more years last season.

While cap was tight (hence the Shattenkirk buyout) management may been able to get a deal done with just a bit more cash for a larger amount of years.

DeAngelo would be looking like a total bargain right now.

With the logjam on the right side, will the Rangers really invest what they would have to keep DeAngelo on? Unless the coaches can get creative with a solution, he may have to take his success elsewhere.

Jesper Fast has been a staple on the Rangers offense since 2014. In his last six seasons in the league, he has established himself most important two-way forwards on the roster.

The Rangers extended him for three years in 2017. It’s hard to say how the conversation may have gone, but why not offer him five or even six years at the $2 million a year mark, get him into his 30s with the team and then consider next steps. (The answer could be that Fast didn’t want this — who knows).

Regardless, the reality is that Fast will now need another negotiation, extension and payment increase. And the question is will the Rangers continue to invest in a glue guy?

It could be argued that Pavel Buchnevich deserved his bridge deal. With solid (but not outstanding) numbers over his first three seasons, he is still looking for his break out season. Buchnevich’s two-year deal valued at $3.25 per is already on the higher end. When re-negotiation does happen, he will inevitably be looking for more money and more years.

This is one area where it is essential the Rangers invest. The Rangers forward prospect pool is not nearly as deep as their defense and keeping Buchnevich on will impact them for years to come.

Finally, Lemieux and Strome are the most dispensable players signed to bride deals and could likely generate good return on the market. These two have not been around quite as long as the aforementioned players, but have made a big impact. Lemieux has won the hearts of fans due to his gritty, physical play and Strome has thrived playing on a line with Panarin.

These things make them fun to have on the roster, but management needs to take advantage of their success, dump their contracts, and make room for everything else that is to come. See below.

Entry Level Contracts

Brady Skjei is one of the only long-term deal the Rangers have inked with a player off an entry-level contract. It is unfortunate to see him as the sole seeing that his play under Lindy Ruff for the last handful of seasons has not been great.

This reliance on bridge deals seen in the last few seasons could be attributed to management wanting to see what comes of some of the talent currently playing under entry-level contracts. And if this trend continues, it will be dangerous.

In 2021, players like Filip Chytil, Brett Howden, Kaapo Kakko, Ryan Lindgren and by 2022 Adam Fox and Igor Shesterrkin will all need decisions made on their future with the organization.

When it comes to these type of players, management cannot afford drag these players along until they’re ready to commit.

It is essential that the Rangers deeply evaluate these players and commit to investing in their development and success within the franchise. Something that arguably has been missing thus far in these rebuild years.

Final Comments

Wanting to wait to be sure a player is worth investing in is understandable. However, committing to some sort of future and establishing some of these players as essential can help direct management in future acquisitions.

Yes, it hard to fully predict how players might develop coming out of these contracts, but the Rangers need to start to look to invest their young players on a longer-term basis.

I am not saying it should happen with every player — obviously, you can’t have countless long term contracts to the point where they become burdensome. However,  dealing with the five plus RFAs and UFAs from year-to-year is equally as difficult.

Relying on judgement, trusting in your staff’s ability to develop talent, investing in youth now rather than needing to re-negotiate every two to three years will allow more time to focus on seeking out the best fit for the core of players you have chosen to lead your team.

This will only lead to more focus, more growth, and more success in the years to come.

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  • Welcome, or possibly welcome back Karly. The defensive trio of Skjei, Trouba and Lundqvist, valued around $21M, is also a real strain on the salary cap, no? Add in Staal and NYR are looking at almost $27M back there, sheesh over 30% of salary. That would seem to be a problem in need attention, something that is surely on JD and JG’s radar. Dealing from strength, isn’t a move of blue line talent the way to go with so many D prospects coming on? Personally I would be disappointed to see them trade 5 years of goal line cost control in Georgiev for maybe 30 more games from Hank next season.

    • I agree somewhat too. I personally would love to have a tandem of Georgiev & Shestyorkin in goal. However, unless Shestyorkin is willing to play one more year in Hartford, I don’t think that’ll happen. It would be young, cost controlled & cheap for years. Hank has been in NY so long, he is like a tree now. He’s got roots at MSG and isn’t leaving at least until that deal runs out.
      Besides, Georgiev is like a lot of the back ups that had the pleasure of working out with goalie GURU Benoit Allair. Look at some others that landed starting jobs elsewhere after working with him. Talbot flamed our in Edmonton before being cut. He ended up a backup in Calgary.
      Rants is nothing special in Arizona. If we can get a 1st round pick for Georgie, I’d say go for it. He’s cheap and cost controlled.

    • I think Gorton should look at what he can get for Ryan Strome. As the writer noted, he has benefited immensely from playing on the same line with the Breadman. Before this season, Strome’s best season was his sophomore season on Long Island with a line of 17-33-50 points. He’s on pace now for about 70 points. I’ve read that Edmonton & Calgary are both looking for a right handed forward. Cash in and sell high on Strome and Georgiev while their value is high. These are things the Rangers have missed out on in the past trying to win a Cup. They are no longer contenders so there should be no reason to be loyal to these guys. They were nice grabs but we have more important players to sign.
      I would like to keep Fast, Kreider, and D’Angelo. Puck moving D are a must in the big playoff games. Something the Rangers lacked when they were chasing a cup.

      • You have to adjust your thinking Strome is not a forward He is your number two
        center until someone better shows up. He also is protection in the event that
        Mika has any injuries. and buys time for kids to grow (chytil). WE are at time in
        rebuild where a first round pick should not be the target. We should be cementing
        our core roster by adding Strome, Tony, Lim. If we must lose Kreider, Fast, Georgiev.
        Then I expect that Brendan Smith, Mark Stahl and perhaps Lundquist being removed
        was accomplished. Any moves should result if funds to add to core.

  • Hank is the best goalie at the moment..without question…, but after this year???? Not so sure…Father time waits for no one but Jagr….Igor will be given the reigns and I sincerely hope that Hank ask for a trade to Avs….which could be his last shot at glory because it will not happen with the Rangers….

    • “Hank is the best goalie at the moment …without question” Say what? Look I get the affection for HL, he has earned it and has had a truly great career. The rock for this franchise on ice for more than a decade. But “at the moment” means now. “Without question” means plainly heads and shoulders above Georgie (leaving Igor out of the discussion for now). And there is absolutely zero basis in reality for this kind of blanket assertion.

      • Georgiev has played 65 NHL games SIXTY-FIVE.

        Hank has played 882.

        There is 100% basis for making that kind of blanketed assertion.

    • The Rangers are a class organization and so is the majority of their fan base. That said, I would disagree with your assessment of Hank’s status as their No.1 goalie. The stats don’ say that and neither does the eye test. He is on the decline with his best days a few seasons ago. Let’s also give kudos to Cally, Dubinsky, Girardi and Staal etc who sacrificed their bodies in front of him.

  • some article….whine, whine, whine…and cheese. Enjoy the awesome victory for the cross-town rivals for Trautwig’s sake…

  • From a cap hell perspective……Hank didn’t create this mess. You can thank the previous GM and to some extent, the current GM, for some hair-raising signings…….

    • Yes he did. He made a decision to stay with the team when asked to be traded.

      We are most definitely in that situation as a direct result of that decision.

      • And the egg comes before the chicken, or the chicken before the egg?

        The situation was created by the contract, which was created by the general manager/president of the NY Rangers, Glen Sather. How can you possibly blame an employee for fulfilling their team-designed contract?

        • I blame them both.

          Mgmt for offering it and him for not allowing us to trade him to a contender while we rebuild.

  • Hank is certainly not at fault but the only and obvious solution out of impending cap hell is for the King to move on. Firstly, as good as he still is, they have no real need for him given Georgi and Shesty play at a small fraction of Hank’s cost. Secondly, and most importantly, if they could shed his contract most of their cap issues are solved in one fell swoop. They probably could sign Kreider, Strome, ADA and Fast, and still have outstanding goal-tending.

    And while Hank always wanted to finish his career here I doubt he wants to do it as an albatross to Rangers, and as a backup goalie hanging on for an outsized paycheck.

    It’s a shame as the King is the greatest Ranger of all time but it would also be a shame for him to go out as a liability to the team. And if it’s true that there is interest in him, ie the Avalanche, it would be win-win for one last shot at the Cup.

  • I get the argument that it is a painful, even sad ending for Hank — in a perfect world, he would deserve much better than to find himself in this situation. But this is where we are: Remember Markus Naslund? The Ranger (fellow Swede) who retired with $4M still due to him on the final year of his deal? He walked the plank because he knew he wasn’t the player he once was, wanted to be remembered at his highest level from years earlier, AND wanted to ease the team’s burden under the salary cap. Hank has every right to exercise whatever contractual control and leverage he has — but the right thing to do for the franchise? Either retire at the end of this season, or renounce his no-movement clause and allow himself to be traded before 24 February.

    • Who cares if it’s the right thing to do for the franchise? He has a signed contract from the team. Would you walk away from a city you love, leaving over $8 million on the table, if you were contractually obligated to receive it?

      So sick of this attitude from Ranger fans. Hank did pretty well by this franchise for the last 15 damn years. This fake idealism in relation to Hank’s contract is so laughable, it’s basically a form of magical thinking. “I really want it to happen, so it is Hank’s fault if it doesn’t.” Grow up.

      • Grow up? Ha, I saw my first Rangers game in 1962 at the old Garden, so I have a feeling I just might be a tad longer in the tooth than you, my friend. :))

        Look, as I wrote above, he has every right to remain for the next fifteen months. But in a best case case scenario — even with your own fake idealism about Hank — he will get, what, at the most 35 starts between now and April 2021? Do you think that will make him happy?

      • Grow up? I saw my first Rangers game at the Garden in 1962 so I have a feeling I’m a bit longer in the tooth than you, my friend. :))

        Nowhere above do I say it’s “Hank’s fault.” I explicitly acknowledged he has the right to exercise his rights under his contract. But if you think he will be satisfied playing, what, maybe thirty-five games between now and April 2021? Well, who’s the one guilty of magical thinking there?

        • Acting like an athlete owes their team something more than performance throughout the length of a contract is an attitude a young kid might have, so pardon my assumption on your age. Athletes are paid very well and then discarded like garbage by pro sports leagues when it suits the franchise. Hank earned his contract, but Sather bears responsibility for its term and dollar amount. Hank owes the Rangers nothing.

          • I agree with you that Hank owes the Rangers nothing. I remember how Ed Giacomin was dumped for nothing by the Cat in 1975. I remember when Rod Gilbert was literally fired by John Ferguson mid-season —- and he was alike Giacomin a huge Rangers icon at the time, the face of the team for sixteen seasons. So I get it.

            It’s just a lousy situation all around …. and it’s actually out of empathy for Hank that I write as I have. To see him benched down the stretch of his career as a NYR without a chance to pull a Patrick Roy in Colorado is a fate far more humiliating than he deserves.

          • Sports are a bottom-line business. You’re talking about Hank as if he’s oblivious to the situation and doesn’t understand the business side of pro sports. He, more than anyone, knows what’s going on.

            You are right that Hank doesn’t owe the Rangers anything. But, to be fair, by that logic, other than $8 mil, the organization doesn’t really owe him anything, either.

          • TxRanger

            I have to agree with you Tex, in that he was compensated very, very well for his services, and is owed nothing other than our respect for what he accomplished in the past. As in business, the question asked often, “What have you done for us lately”, and if the answer is not much, then sorry my friend you may have to go. Tony said it best, scratch him every night, he will beg to either be traded, or will retire voluntarily. Final thought, he may burn bridges if he doesn’t walk, or let the team trade him, and lose a lifetime job being a Ranger good will representative, just like Rod Gilbert has for some 35+ years!!!!!!!!!!

          • Breaking news: Hank was spoken to before Shesty was called up and Hank was 100% on board with 3 goalies. And Hank will not be the healthy scratch, he will be the back up in games he does not start.

            So, in other words, again, for the 10 millionth time, Hank is not going anywhere.

        • Hey Ingarfields, talk about ironies, a buddy just reminded me that when the NYR waived Giacomin in 1975, his replacement in goal was…John Davidson. And of course they made the SCF in 1979.

      • Lundqvist is contractually entitled to receive $3,633,333, i.e., 2/3 of $5.5M. he is not contractually obligated to receive anything, the Rangers are obligated to pay him.

        The collective bargaining agreement entitles the Rangers to buy out his contract. Would I personally (if I were already rich) retire and walk away from this much money to avoid being bought out and have both the team I love and my own legacy sullied. I think so. Of course, if I really really wanted to play another season and planned to follow the buyout by signing with a new team, I might act differently.

    • Kappo will be a good player…maybe as soon as next year, this year, he is lost…shoots when he should pass, passes when he should shoot…never engages physically. He played his best when he played with Pepe…
      The Rangers should have claimed Chris Stewart, he would have helped when facing that tree trunk the Islanders have

  • “It’s just a lousy situation all around …. and it’s actually out of empathy for Hank that I write as I have. To see him benched down the stretch of his career as a NYR without a chance to pull a Patrick Roy in Colorado is a fate far more humiliating than he deserves.” If the situation was that humiliating, I’m sure that Henrik would have let the FO know how he felt.In fact, it’s been reported that the team offered him the opportunity to explore the trade market, and he declined. The man wants to stay in New York, and that’s HIS choice.

    • I agree that Hank knew what he signed up for this year.

      So why not just make him a healthy scratch and make him beg for a trade?

  • So, here’s what I would do:

    Georgiev and Skjei to the Leafs for Kapanan, Johnsson, and Bracco. The cap space is a wash in this trade, so the Leafs can do it.

    Trade Strome for whatever they can get.

    Buyout Staal and Smith next year.

    Re-sign CK and ADA. And if there is room, re-sign Fast.

  • These problems can go away.

    We asked hank and I believe Staal to waive their nmc.

    They rejected that offer.

    Make them permanent scratches for the rest of the season.

    If they want to play it’s not for this team.

    I’m in a rebuild here. And I need those minutes they are consuming to go to young players so we have a shot at a cup in 3 years.

    Plus our our young goalies and dmen are playing head and shoulders above the rest. See what I did there. Hank shampoo joke. It’s funny.

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