Analysis

Projected salary cap to be $84-$88 million – how this impacts the Rangers

Bigger increase means altered plans

In case you missed it, Eric Francis noted on Twitter that Bill Daly has let NHL General Managers know that the projected NHL salary cap ceiling next season will be between $84 million and $88 million.

This represents at least a $3 million increase, and potentially $7 million in additional cap space. Taking the middle ground of $86 million, above the $85 million we’ve been using around here, the Rangers have a little more wiggle room. This may alter their plans.

Buyouts

Buyouts are the major talking point for next season. The Rangers already have a shade under $7.5 million in cap space committed to buyouts next season, certainly less than ideal. The buyout discussion has been focused around Marc Staal and Henrik Lundqvist, although Brendan Smith’s name has popped up.

The good news is that even without a significant cap increase, the Brady Skjei trade has made a buyout completely unnecessary. The additional cap space –we had been working off an $85 million cap– amplifies this point. The Rangers do not need to buy anyone out.

I repeat. The Rangers do not need to buy anyone out.

One last time. The Rangers do not need to buy anyone out (Caveat: Assuming any salary coming in is offset by salary out).

Henrik Lundqvist

Lundqvist’s future with the Rangers is certainly in question, and there’s a chance this April may be the last time we see Lundqvist on Broadway. While the focus had been on a buyout, trades had come up because Lundqvist comes with an $8.5 million cap hit, or $4.25 million if retained at 50%.

The buyout point above stands true to this point as well – the Rangers do not *need* to trade Henrik Lundqvist. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, trading Hank is just as irresponsible as buying him out. He doesn’t get anything in a trade and Alex Georgiev is the guy with trade value.

Of course this assumes there isn’t a mutual split by some other means. Remember though, the Rangers do need to expose a goalie next season, and neither Lundqvist (UFA) nor Igor Shesterkin (exempt) will be exposed. So they need a backup signed through the expansion draft.

Roster Decisions

The Skjei trade showed us that the Rangers essentially chose Tony DeAngelo over Skjei, which means one less tough decision to make this offseason. They have other tough choices to make (Georgiev, Ryan Strome), but the added cap space means they can take on additional cap space in a trade. With left defense an issue, perhaps a trade is on the way this June?

Bonus Overages

The boring and smart answer, the Rangers still need to account for about $7 million in potential bonuses. Any bonus money that can’t be applied to the cap would then hit the Rangers the following season. You never know when you’ll need cap space, and if the Rangers are unable to find a viable trade option, saving the cap space is the best bet.

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  • Let’s just hope this isn’t a repeat of last year when they came out with an early estimate of $83 mill then it ended up being $81.5.

  • Unless the Rangers are extending Fast, Strome, and/or Lemieux beyond a 2 year bridge the ‘Cap’ is a non event. When contracts are signed that extend into 22/23 season when Zib is a Free Agent that’s when things really start to matter. By then the Cap will be around $92-95mil.

    Buch , Kappo, Chytil and Fox future extensions will also impact cap space in 22/23 and beyond. ADA will simple slot into a 4-5yr contract that essentially replaces Skjei’s. Next off season (after Lundqvist and buyouts are essentially off the books) is when we will consider adding a meaningful piece in Free Agency. Or at the earliest the trade deadline next February.

  • As you say, there is no reason to buy out Brendan Smith and this would be shear lunacy. The matters of Staal and Lundqvist are slightly different because of the NMCs. You either buy them out, get them to agree to a trade, or carry them on the roster.

    I don’t think Staal is really a problem. The Rangers need a seventh defenseman next year and he should be someone with experience and someone whose development will not be obstructed by riding the pine. Staal is a reasonable choice for that role. You could even call someone up from Hartford in case of a serious injury to a top six guy.

    Lundqvist is more problematic as keeping him necessitates either trading Georgiev or carrying three goalies. Plus, IMO, Hank will either retire or ask for a buyout.

    ****************

    The current Ranger weakness incidentally is RD, not LD. The Rangers are forced to use a LD on the right side on the PK because of it. And at even strength, DeAngelo has been excellent on the left. The real issue though is that the Rangers only have four defensemen that we like going forward plus some kids who may or may not be ready. The Rangers may need a stopgap solution next year on defense, but I expect it to be one or two low cost players.

    Of course, the Rangers could surprise us with a blockbuster to obtain a quality first pair LD – something Skjei was not.

    • Ray

      Be advised that Nil Lundqvist is possibly the answer to your question on the right side. The kid is terrific offensively, and plays a solid defensive game as well!!!!!!! Move ADA to the left side, end of problem………….

      • Best case scenario in my world is Trouba, Fox, Lundqvist on the right – Lindgren, DeAngelo, Miller on the left – Staal as 7D for sickness or short term injury play – Smith traded or in Hartford. Quality lineup hopefully with no buyouts.

        I am thinking that is the lineup down the road and the only question is how soon will Nils and Miller be ready.

  • Good move by the Rangers. Something had to give and Stahl as a journeyman veteran was a loss but he is expendable going forward. He was a third line defenseman and with his salary makes him expendable. Other young defenseman are a key to.upgrade our defense corps and it is critical upgrade there and sign Deangelo and others.

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