Musings

Decisions for the NY Rangers if there is a flat salary cap and no amnesty buyout

What will the NY Rangers do if they can't keep everyone?

Even as the NHL looks to restart the season, there are lingering assumptions that the NHL will have a flat salary cap for next season. The idea of amnesty buyouts has been floated, with the general consensus among Ranger fans being that if one is allowed, it should be used on Henrik Lundqvist or Marc Staal. However amnesty buyouts have not been discussed yet, nor has an official salary cap ceiling been made public. There is still a very solid chance that there will be no amnesty buyouts despite a flat salary cap.

If that’s the case, then there will be a bunch of teams, the Rangers included, that will have difficult decisions to make. The Rangers would have $14.4 million in cap space left to re-sign Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, Jesper Fast, and Brendan Lemieux. Given where Strome and DeAngelo fall in contract estimations, it doesn’t look possible to keep both.

The first major decision the Rangers would need to make is between Strome and DeAngelo. Given the recent trade of Brady Skjei, it seems they are looking at keeping DeAngelo for the long haul, or at least the medium haul. I don’t think that’s necessarily a tough decision to predict.

The second decision is whether or not Strome is worth whatever contract he is asking for. Based on the contract estimates, Filip Chytil will have a large impact on this decision. It’s not as simple as “is Strome worth it?” It’s “is Strome worth it, given we have a potential 2C on the NHL roster who already has a better underlying impact and did it without Artemi Panarin?” That also gets coupled with how much the Rangers can get for Strome in a trade. This second decision is likely the biggest decision they will need to make.

The third and final decision has the most sentimental value, and that is what to do with the three-headed goalie monster. Buying out Henrik Lundqvist, if it is going to count against the cap, only saves $3 million this season and winds up with more dead cap space the following season. Trading him at 50% retained, if someone even trades for him and Hank approves it, would save them $4.25 million. It doesn’t seem like these are options. This leads us to the long rumored Alex Georgiev trade, perhaps packaged with Ryan Strome?

There are other factors at play beyond the major decisions. What to do with Brendan Smith is a big one, as I have pegged him as Ottawa bound once that bonus is paid out. Marc Staal’s future is also a question, but buying him out begs the question of who will eat 16 minutes a night on the left side (yes, I am aware that he is easily replaced by any minimum salary free agent – but let’s stay in reality of how the Rangers operate). Jesper Fast’s future is also a question mark.

None of this is set in stone yet, and a lot can change between now and the draft. This is perhaps the most critical offseason the Rangers have had in the rebuild. One wrong move, one wrong contract, and the entire thing can be derailed. Sustained dominance is difficult to pull off, but with the right decisions and a little luck, the Rangers might be able to swing it.

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  • They have to trade Strome. He’s not a homegrown Ranger and they got him for nothing.
    Might as well trade him for draft picks and/or cheaper prospects under team control. I think a building team like Arizona or Edmonton would love to have him.

    • Agree with you on Strome. Gotta think a package of Strome plus Georgiev would generate interest.

      Given the state of things, I wonder if Hank just retires and stays in Europe.

      • I wouldn’t be in a rush to trade Georgiev. Not saying we should not trade him for anything, I just wouldn’t let him go unless the deal was solid. Having Georgiev and Shestyorkin as a 50-30 goalie tandem for the next 5 years would be great and much cheaper instead of paying Hank 10% of the salary cap.

        As far as Strome, I’m thinking Edmonton may be interested. Maybe for Puljujarvi. At this point, the Oilers probably just want to get something of use for the 2016 4th overall draft pick. Still young and he would be under team control. He’s 21 years old, 6’4” tall and 200lbs and he’s a righty shot which we would be loosing with the loss of Strome.

        • Hard to see the Oilers wanting Strome back for real assets when they traded him a year and half ago for virtually nothing.

        • There you go, Hockey Post. That’s my thinking (in your first paragraph). You got your goalie tandem for the next 5 years + (that is if Georgiev is not adamant on being a no. 1 goaltender somewhere else). I would love to see him play a few years on the Rangers (to see how this tandem works, and the success they will most-likely have)…and then if he progresses to the point (say, after 2 seasons) where he is a really good goalie, and that there is a strong interest for him around the League, the Rangers can move him then and thus get a better return for him, because of his increased value after playing 2 to 3 seasons as a tandem with Shesty.
          But, as you stated, the perfect scenario of stability for the NY Rangers is that these 2 will be a tandem “for years to come”. 🙂

        • Puljujarvi should’ve been destroying Liiga(2nd in scoring?) but was just really good.

          The league has really gone down in quality the last few years. Leading scorer was a bottom of the roster guy in Rochester. Best payroll is 1/3 of what the KHL cap is, average teams are paying AHL salaries except for top scorers.

      • Not Georgy, giving up Georgy now doesn’t make much sense, because he is not going to eat much salary, and his price is not yet high

    • Arizona has Hossa’s $5mm LTIR credit, Has $9-10mm coming off the books, needs scoring in the worst way. It’s possible that they’d be interested in Strome, but you have to sign him to the frontloaded deal, then do the deal after the signing bonus is paid out.

  • Since many other teams will have similar Cap issues and contract issues, trading will be a big challenge. I would agree with most of everything said, but I can also see the NYR moving someone like Howden so that they could re-sign Fast. Jesper (in managements opinion) is too valuable to let walk away.

    We also may need to package Strome with a defensive prospect to make any deal happen.

  • This is a re-post from the previous thread………

    Mikko Lehtonen leaves KHL, Rangers should pursue him now?”

    This could be a great fix for next season, on the cheap at that. Mikko plays the left side, is leading the KHL in scoring for a d-man, has played with Kakko, Georgiev, and Andersson. He could be a great running mate for the Kakko kid, as he transition to the North American game.

    If there is a multi player buy out that won’t go against the cap, here is a quick fix, short term while Miller develops. If the Rangers buy out Hank, and Staal, we clear $14 million cap space, and get a replacement for $925,000 entry level contract. I suspect management will look at this option, which would make sense to me!!!!!!!!!!

    • Same author, follow up article that may interest everyone. FYI, he follows the Rangers, and some of our players. The organization may have had contacts already with him??????

      The Case For Lehtonen

      Earlier today I laid out the case for Lehtonen. The left side defender would stabilize the bottom pair and provide some offensive punch on the PP. Should the season restart as it appears it will, signing Lehtonen now and burning the ELC right away is fine. He would be an RFA immediately once the season concludes and the Rangers could offer him at least another 1 year deal before he is eligible for unrestricted free agency. That would likely be the best option because it would effectively end Brendan Smith on defense and allow time for Miller and Lundkvist to develop. It also keeps Fox or DeAngelo on the right side where they have excelled this season.

  • Part of the problem with these salary “dilemmas” is due to the Rangers.

    Strome and Fast are playing with Panarin, 2 players who should not be. So Strome has inflated #s due to Panarin, and so does Fast, based on his skillset. So now both players will look to cash in due to production that they do not deserve to be credited with. That’s on the Rangers for putting them in those spots.

    Fast has 29 pts in 69 games playing basically with Panarin, while Chytil had 23 pts in 60 games playing with stiffs for most of the season. Chytil is already equipped to play the C for Panarin.

    Strome needs to go and Fast ONLY stays if he gets less than $3M per, otherwise, adios.

    ADA is a must sign, no questions asked. While, at the very least, Staal and Smith have to go, some how, some way.

    • Fast wasn’t even having a career year playing with Panarin, give him a pat on the back, a hearty handshake and wish him luck in his future endeavors.

      Strome, you give him a hefty signing bonus, deal him the 1st sign Chytil is ready.

      Bottom 6 will have to be filled out by the likes of Fogarty & Gettinger.

      • Reen

        Do you see Morgan coming out, and being a possible bottom six player? He looked real good at Cornell, just wondering. Also your thoughts about Mikko Lehtonen coming over to play for us? Have a great day my friend………

        • Hey bro, hope all is well.

          Book it, this kid will be given every opportunity to make the NHL, after a stint in Hartford. I think that he has a good shot, as a 3/4 liner.

          • Tony

            Good morning big guy, all is well thanks. I tend to agree, but if they don’t start up soon, he may go back to school for his senior year. He is a smart kid, good size, and high hockey IQ, with decent hands.

            What are your thoughts on Lehtonen? He is leading the KHL in scoring for d-men. He is young, and has played with a few Rangers in the past. He was a member of the same tea, as Kakko, which won the World’s Cup last year. Best yet, he is like 25 years of age, plays the left side, and comes cheap. In case of two buy outs, Staal goes, so he is a stop gap for a year, or two as a bottom pair d-man. It also appears the the team is in contact with him, so this makes it that much more interesting. Last point, he would be great for Kakko to have around.

          • I would love a shot at Lehtonen and Letonhim (lol) play with Trouba.

            Cap is the issue, as always. It’s about time they clear the decks, so they can sign a guy like this and keep ADA, a must keep. They have to make Trouba’s cap worth it by getting him a legit partner. Could be a perfect match for a pairing here.

          • Tony

            He comes in under an entry contract for a year, or two because of his age, but your spot on with your thinking. That doesn’t force ADA to the left side, although he enjoys playing his off side, and has in the past…………..

          • Lehtonen-Trouba
            Lindgren-Fox
            Hajek (or a cheap vet)-DeAngelo

            Supposedly Lehtonen following some Rangers on twitter, for whatever that’s worth.

          • Tony

            He’s a fan of Hank, and played with Kakko, Georgiev, and Andersson. I believe these are the ones he is following.

            The pairings look good, and then in a year or so, Miller steps into the top pair replacing Lehtonen, who would still be our property, and asset………..

        • Barron has 3rd liner potential, would slot into the 4th line whenever the league restarts.

          I saw Lehtonen right before lockdown in the 1st round of the playoffs. Didn’t really jump out and you need those guys to jump out. The points explosion is interesting, but he’s likely to return to mean. The guy who took his role on HV71 scored 6 more points this season.

          John Gilmour type.

    • Yeah Fast has been totally misplaced all season. He’s a third liner at best. At least Strome was able to produce with Panarin. They should let Fast walk at the end of the season. Still think it was stupid not trading him at the deadline.

      Staal needs to go. Needed to for a couple of seasons now. I actually prefer Smith playing over Staal but he needs to go too.

      • I don’t know what it is with Ranger coaches that try, with all their might, to make Fast a top 6 player.

        I mean 69 games, 29 pts, mostly playing with one of the best players in the league, doesn’t cut it. But yet, this coach and AV has/had him playing in the top 6. I don’t get it.

        • Yeah it makes no sense. Strome isn’t a great player, but at least he can produce with Panarin. Literally anyone would be better on that line.

          • Strome “produces” with Panarin but doesn’t complement him.

            We’ve seen way too many chances botched by Strome that would have been buried by more skilled players.

            Panarin-Chytil-Kakko has to be line next year, for once and for all. And LEAVE them together. Like KZB.

          • You paying him $4M per? Yes or no.

            Given the state of the Rangers’ cap situation.

          • … and who is the genius that says Fast will get $4M? He’ll cost less, a lot less — especially for the rangers. This is a guy who will give a hometown discount — if he goes anywhere else he will never be as favored as he is here.

          • Give me a break, Fast is a 35-point player with Panarin. He has no business being anywhere other than the bottom 6.

          • If you’re going to be on the top line you’ve got to produce offense. He’s a drain on Panarin’s line

  • If there are no amnesty buyouts, and the cap stays flat, this is going to be a messy situation for most teams. Almost every team has players who are in line for a substantial raise, and players who are over paid on their current contracts. Without additional buyouts, some of the first group are going to get shortchanged while the second group benefits. I doubt if any teams are going to make any significant changes until they know for sure what’s going to happen.

  • First off, the starting question is not Strome vs. DeAngelo, it is Lundqvist. He is untradeable unless the Rangers are willing to put in a nice sweetener (like a first rounder a la Marleau), so the only decision is a buyout. I believe Hank wants to play next year, knows he can only command $1M or $2M and so needs to be a free agent. I believe he will request a buyout and the Rangers will grant that wish. OTOH, if I am wrong and Hank does not want to be bought out, I think the Rangers will not court the PR disaster that a buyout would be.

    But only after that hurdle is passed do we mlve on to other things. I think Strome will be vastly cheaper. The pinched cap will cut values and I believe that players with question marks like Strome will get hurt most. If you can get a sure thing for a good price and everyone is selling, why take a chance on an up and down guy. Of course, that also means that if Strome wants too much, you definitely say good-by. I will be surprised if the Rangers offer Strome more than two years.

  • did I count wrong or would that leave the team still short by 1 forward even if you sign all four of those guys? need to figure in a replacement for one of McKegg/Di Giuseppe too. and that’s the bare minimum to field a team with 12F+6D.

    bread, mika, kreider, buch, strome, fast, kakko, lemieux, chytil, gauthier, howden…?

    or do they double-shift Smith on D and Wing…

    • The Rangers are still a building team. They have not “arrived” yet. They are getting there and going in the right direction but they are going to stay the course. By that I mean they’ll fill any vacant spots on the NHL squad from within. They have this kid Zac Jones among others in the system and not for nothing but we have not yet had a 2020 draft yet. There may not be a large event but even if Gorton creates a War room in his Garage, there will be a draft held and who knows. That’s where deals are often made. Strome could be traded for an NHL ready prospect.
      Who knows who could be traded.

  • Ask Hank for retirement the same way is Luongo…. this is the best case scenario
    If not. Trade Strome and buy out Hank….

    Probably trade Strome anyway….

  • Rangers not a fit for Lehtonen

    After a day of speculation, including some interesting Instagram activity, Mikko Lehtonen and the Rangers aren’t a match. What isn’t fully clear is if the two sides had any compelling conversations, but the Rangers are loaded on defense with a deep prospect pool. Players and their agents are also very well aware that the team will be looking to develop and get both Nils Lundkvist and K’Andre Miller on defense. Add other prospects like Libor Hajek, Tarmo Reunanen, and Matthew Robertson, it makes it even less appealing for a player looking to get top 4 minutes and a future beyond a year or two. This was all confirmed with a team source this evening.

    There goes that idea, now back to the drawing board…………..

    • Devils, Canadiens, and Kings are supposedly front-runners for Lehtonen, according to Sportsnet yesterday.

    • And Lehtonen signed with Toronto instead. And the unrealistic expectations process will begin now with the Canadian hockey media, leading to Lehtonen’s being labeled a disappointment before too long.

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