Sunday thoughts as the NY Rangers head into the 2020 offseason

The NY Rangers are beginning the 2020 offseason this week, as the NHL Draft Lottery (Part 2) is tomorrow. It’s just the first step in the offseason for the Rangers, with difficult decisions abound. From the draft to the restricted free agents to the difficult decisions, the Rangers have a chance to take a big step forward this offseason. They can also completely derail the rebuild with a few wrong decisions.

The Draft

The Rangers have a 12.5% chance at picking first overall. That would land them Alexis Lafreniere, a bonafide stud LW that would upgrade the team from dangerous to downright lethal on offense. If that doesn’t happen, the Rangers could draft anywhere from #9-#11 (I think).

The Rangers also have the Carolina pick, which now depends on how far Carolina goes in the playoffs. They are a legitimate contender to come out of the East, but will need some luck in dealing with Tampa Bay and/or Philadelphia. HSM laid out the scenarios.

The draft also presents an opportunity to trade up or down, depending on who is available at when the Rangers pick. Missing out on Lafreniere isn’t a huge deal since the draft is very deep. The Rangers have two 1sts, no 2nds (Adam Fox trade) and 2 3rds to use as chips to trade up. They also have some expensive and/or redundant RFAs that could be used as chips.

The Restricted Free Agents

The highlight of the 2020 offseason for the NY Rangers, the Big Three RFAs are Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, and Alex Georgiev. An argument can be made that all three are either redundant, a luxury, or just too expensive to keep. This is the area that can completely derail the rebuild.

Without getting into the debate of where all three stand in the organization, the Rangers will need to eventually make a decision on how to manage their extensions and/or trade scenarios. There’s a possibility to package two of them for a roster upgrade. There’s also a possibility to package them with picks to move up at the draft.

Given some of the talent coming up in the draft, and where the Rangers currently sit in their rebuild, it might make sense to trade all three. There are still too many pieces on the roster that are not a part of the future, and timing this rebuild right is the only way to have it work for sustained success.

The Tough Decisions

This brings us to the tough decisions. First and foremost is Henrik Lundqvist. He isn’t a viable trade option in a flat cap era, even with 50% retained. The only two options are Hank retiring, which is a possibility,  and the Rangers buying him out, which seems like less of a possibility, but still there (or just ride it out for a year). Buying out Hank results in just $3 million in savings for 2020-2021, and a $1.5 million cap hit for 2021-2022. That isn’t much of a savings for buying out the best goalie in franchise history. It’s a decision I’m glad I don’t have to make.

Another tough decision is what to do with Jesper Fast. The UFA is coming off a deal in which he carried a $1.85 million cap hit. He’s due for a raise. Our friends at Evolving-Hockey have him projected at around 3-4 years and around $3 million annually. That’s a lot for Fast, who is a Rangers every-man who can play middle-six and bottom-six with relative ease. He doesn’t put up points though. The question is whether or not $3 million is worth it for what will eventually be a 3rd or 4th line role. Remember the Rangers already have Kaapo Kakko and Pavel Buchnevich as their eventual top two RWs. Vitali Kravtsov is hopefully on the way soon. Where does Fast fit?

The borderline tough decision left is with Marc Staal. Another career Ranger, his $5.7 million cap hit for next season is also unmoveable. He won’t get traded. There’s *maybe* some GM who sees Staal as a rock on the blue line who will take him at 50%, but that’s highly unlikely. A buyout only saves the Rangers $2.1 million for 2020-2021 and costs them $1.06 in 2021-2022. He too could retire, but he’d be passing up on $3.2 million in salary.

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  • if nothing else I really hope we pass on the buy outs for any of the players mentioned or others in the future. We have $7.494 million in wasted cap space next year due to past buyouts. That’s 9.2% of next years cap and we get nothing.(other than we rid ourselves of players we didn’t want. Even in 21-22 and 22-23 we have $2.5 mill in dead cap space. No need to see those numbers go up. These contracts are almost done. Ride them out and stop wasting the cap space.

    • Andy

      This is the most common sense post I’ve read in ages. I, like yourself, see these buy outs a huge mistake, and hope we never, ever do one again!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Worst decision would be to resign Strome. Need to trade TonyD and Georgiev. I like them both but, Tony will be 3rd pairing defenseman on the team, and I don’t see Lundqvist doing us any favors, so no room for Georgiev. And lastly you have to sign Fast.

    • ** The worst decision would be to head into next season with Chytil as your 2c. Strome filled out in that position, PP1 and the pk. Expecting Chytil to be a 40 point player is already a tall order for him.

      They have to sign Fast due to the Rangers terrible scouts in the last decade. They couldn’t have snagged a Jesper Faster type ( 2.0 or a lesser version idc) in the last 5 years?? Nobody has come close to what he brings to the bottom 6 in all three zones. That pipeline is what keeps the good teams afloat and quite frankly has M.I.A ever since Oscar Lindberg got traded away. JG got rid of two pk specialist in Hayes and Miller, he has to ante up to keep Fast now.

      If you have to trade ADA at all cost than I would hope to see a bigger package being sent away with him. If the rumors are true about Taylor Hall then maybe a big enough splash will attract him to take a pay cut here.

      • JG got rid of Hayes and Miller- you forget Sather still had a big say during the time the deals were made, Sather and Espo had a relationship going back to their playing days. I liked MIller, and he would be playing like he is now presently with VAN if the Rangers were a little more patient, but Sather had a big say up until a year ago.

    • True Red

      Agree, but what GM would take Staal, and his cap hit, and give up a 2nd? I think not my friend!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Walt, you misunderstood. True Red wants to give up a second to have someone take Staal off our hands. (Toronto gave up a first to rid themselves of Marleau) The Rangers don’t actually have a second this year though.

        • Ray

          If that is the case, it may well be worth giving up maybe a third, to rid us of the cap hit??????????

          • Of course you need to deal with the cap for this year and the following. A short term fix may not be useful. But assuming it is, this is certainly not unreasonable. Thirds usually don’t get you a good player anyway.

            Of course, Staal has an NMC, but if he does not want to retire, I don’t think he wants to sit either and may be willing to go elsewhere.

  • At $3M, one wants to keep Fast. It was clear how important he is and frankly he is a good enough player that he can be traded. slightly overpried players can generally be moved. The problem is excessive overpayment. Of course, if the cap number are not working, one must make adjustments as the Rangers did when they traded Skjei.

    Buyouts are a bad idea, but I think the Rangers need to tell Lundqvist that he will be bought out unless he retires. And it must be sincere, not a bluff. I think he will retire rather than face the indignity. At this point, he is a distraction that is hindering the rebuild.

    With Marc Staal, I would tell him that plans are for him to be the #7 defenseman, who may even get passed over for an AHLer if there is a serious injury to a top six guy. Suggest he might like to retire or get traded. In the case of Staal, pride and love of the game should surely be a bigger factor than money. He has more money than health already and playing even this long just for money would have been dumb.

    Staal may have real trade value. A financialy struggling team (more likely in these times) trying to reach the floor might like his cap hit. If the Rangers pay his bonus and retain half salary, they are only out $1.6M and get a cap hit of $2.85M. If they take the full salary, they get a cap hit of $5.7M for only $3.2M. A sweetener of a third or fourth round draft choice might make it more appealing as well.

    However, the Rangers must address their defense issues in a positive way. Fact is, at the end of this year, Brendan Smith and Marc Staal were two of the Rangers top six defensemen (yes, #5 and #6). If you don’t want to play one or both, you need better options. Miller is a possibility, but far from a certainty. Even if the Rangers just get two Freddy Claessons, they need to do something.


    Wasted cap space for multiple years is a bigger problem than overpaid contracts for 1 more year

  • Terrible cap management.. Meanwhile I’m watching ex Rangers like Mcd, Hayes and JT all being intangible parts to their respective top teams. Those guys looking like long term fixtures on some of the best teams in the league. Rangers on the other hand regret that Trouba contract and giving up on Pionk.

    JT Miller wouldn’t have let that hit on Fast slide the way Kreider did. Probably why we don’t hear about his leadership quality’s from his teammates? Hm..

  • NotsoAvery

    I don’t know if your blowing smoke up our tail pipes, but if true, at least Pittsburgh didn’t get it, and that would be great news!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Also if true, we move up to the tenth spot because the Wild had a worse record than we did, so we should look at it as a consolation prize!!!!!!!!!!

      I’m also assuming we pick 10th in every round??? Sounds right……..Correct me if I’m wrong.

  • Andy

    The last sentence was uncalled for, some people like their women on the plus side. Me, I prefer them lean, and mean!!!!!!

  • First and foremost is hank. He has to go. He is far removed from what he was in his prime. He’s got plenty of money. If he thinks he’s still a viable player he’s sorely mistaken. If he truly loves the team like he says he’ll retire gracefully.

    The UFA’s? I think we can part ways with Strome. Maybe Tony D too if the price is too high but Georgie should stay.

    Unfortunately, paying Fast more than two mil would be ridiculous. I would buy out Smith. Staal is a good vet to keep around for the young dmen to learn from.

    Maybe I’m watching a different kappo kaako from everybody else. He has been awful. He shoulda been in Hartford this whole year. I just don’t see him as a top six forward unless things change drastically for himm

    • Kakko has too much to adapt. Whole new rink size. Whole new culture. Nothing would have been gained by sending him down to Hartford. Your way off

    • Dave

      Whoever it was had us all going, claiming that the Wild will get the first pick. It came to me last night that the Leafs were still playing the Bluejackets, and loser of that game would be in the hunt for that pick. I fell for it myself, what a fool I was for taking the bait!!!!!!!

      We still have a shot at the #1 pick tonight………………….

  • The true Ranger mantra, said every year, “there’s always next year.”

    Ok, so let’s ride out the current bad contracts until the next bad ones are given out.

  • So many bad contracts to wait out. Smith, Staal and even Hank. Next year is going to be all about kids and expiring contracts.

    Don’t make additional mistakes by signing Strome and Fast.

  • I don’t believe Strome or Fast are critical pieces to retain and/or pay any sort of premium for. They’re not bad players by any means, but I don’t see them as necessary pieces in a season or two. Fast maybe. More likely tho we’re talking about their buy outs in about 2 seasons.

    But all these buy outs are going to haunt them if this continues. I’d like to see pieces moved to solidify the middle. A good 2-3 center would be a great addition. Let him work the middle while a guy like Chytil finds his feet a little more.

    If you can sign a guy like Fast for 2-3 seasons, great. I doubt it, but that would work. For the others, ride these contracts out. They are not a Cup contender yet, so why rush and tack on more dead space?

  • I would hesitate giving Strome a long term contract. Because he is a RFA the Rangers hold most of the cards at this juncture. I might prefer to trade him, but a short contract with a raise might work if they are not concerned about losing him in the future. I think he is likely to be too expensive for his real skill set.

    Fast might sign cheaper than expected as he is probably comfortable with the Rangers. He is a good guy to have around IF you can afford him because he is versatile and defensive minded, but he simply does not score. So, that is a big if.

    • Fast has 200 hockey IQ. When you need a player to key on in the game, they go to Fast. When we are looking for a clearing pass at the most important moment. Yes it is Jasper. When we need an important PK who do they call on? Fast yes Fast. He can fill in nicely on any line in a pinch. He has the experience and the right attitude. Any he has a proven record in the biggest stage of all NY. Some of the greatest have choked on the big stage. And exactly why would we give up such a player?

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