Riding out bad contracts is better than buyouts for the NY Rangers

With three high priced contracts, rumors are abound that the NY Rangers might have buyouts coming. All three contracts rumored have one year remaining. Henrik Lundqvist has $8.5 million. Marc Staal has $5.7 million. Brendan Smith has $4.35 million. While Smith’s contract is moveable, Staal and Lundqvist will likely ride out their contracts for one more year. That is, unless the Rangers buyout one or both of them. This would not be the best choice.

The Buyouts Make No Sense

There’s a lot of talk about a Lundqvist buyout, which we’ve covered a lot. While there is minimal talk about a Staal buyout, there isn’t much difference between the two.

Tom hits the nail on the head here, as buying out one or the other is a net equal decision over two years. Since the Rangers don’t *need* the cap space right now, why waste the buyout? Why kick cap space down the road when you don’t need to? If the Rangers don’t need the cap space, why hamstring themselves the year after the contracts come off the books?

This is something hard to believe, but the Rangers don’t have a major cap issue next season as long as they don’t make massive mistakes. Trading Brady Skjei more or less alleviated that concern. Sure, the flat cap creates unnecessary stress, but the Rangers don’t have many issues. And that’s with all three on the books. Trade Smith, who has value, and there’s no issue whatsoever.

Smith Can Be Moved

Brendan Smith has trade value. The whole cap hit can be moved to the right team (Ottawa), since Smith is only due $2.35 million out of his $4.35 million cap hit. But even if that right team can’t be found, Smith at 50% retained has value.

Lest we forget, Smith was pretty decent as a fill-in for Skjei following the trade deadline. The biggest concern with Smith was his cap hit, no this performance on the ice. At 50% retained, That’s $2.175 million saved, more than a Staal buyout and without the cap hit in 2021-2022 like any buyout. How is this not the better solution?

2021-2022 Is The Season

This one will be a tough pill to swallow. Next season is not the year for the Rangers. In fact, if they don’t make any big moves this offseason, they may actually be worse than in 2019-2020. There’s a lot of rose-colored glasses and “what-ifs” for 2020-2021.

A lot of the hype has been based on draft lottery luck and assumed development. Yes, the Rangers have Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere. However those two don’t magically fill holes elsewhere on the roster. If the Rangers do this properly, then it’s 2021-2022 as the season to compete. Anything next season is just gravy.

The Offseason Doesn’t Indicate Huge Cap Implications

While the Rangers are going to be active this offseason, there are few moves that would impact their cap situation. In fact, they’d need to make a series of moves before cap space becomes a problem.

The Rangers have a direction. They have a plan. Whether or not it works is to be seen. That said, NY Rangers buyouts for 2020-2021 just don’t make logical sense. It doesn’t fit in the plan. At least not yet.

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  • Buy outs make zero sense for us now. Just for flavor if they do buyout Hank we will have about $13 mill in dead cap space in 20-21 with Hank, Girardi and Shatty cap hits. That could pay for Jack Eichel +$3 million left over. And another $4 mill in dead space in 21-22. It’s bad cap management and we need to change our ways.

  • The Rangers do not have a lot of cap space, and they have DeAngelo, Lemieux, Strome and Georgiev to resign. There is a glut in the goalie market so they won’t be selling high if they trade the talented young netminder.

    Moving Brady at trade deadline left a hole on the Blue line. Trading Smitty does not make any sense as it creates another spot to fill.

    Keeping Lundqvist for 1 more season hurts the club. It’s time the Rangers moved on and buy him out.

    • Smith took Brady‘s place so getting rid of Smith is just a chance to bring one of the other kids in which we need to start doing and if somehow we could trade Hank that would be the best scenario and just because there’s other goalies available doesn’t mean that Georgiev won’t be a good trade ship

  • Regarding lundqvist I dont think financial inputs are the only deciding factors here. I dont think either he nor the team wants him riding the pine for another year. When you’ve been the franchise face for 15 years these things matter.

  • Disagree, because Next year is going to be extra 30 mill free with now dramatical signing incoming. Those extra 2.5-3 mill will not make any difference next year, but 6-7 mill this year could very very important

  • None of these players are movable so we need to make a decision. That decision is how viable of a team do we want to be next year? Even if we bring in K.Miller, he needs some time, so the LD will suffer. 3 goalies is a big problem too. No market for Georgi at the moment. I am guessing Hank retires and they give him a front office job with a 5 year contract.

  • I would be shocked if either player is bought out. JD stressed the importance of not adding anymore dead cap space and besides doing so would go against what JD has been saying.

  • A Lundqvist buyout is a necessity. You need him off the team even if you do not save a penny. The Carolina series proved that. He has a mystique which is crippling. Why on earth is your #3 goalie starting in place of your #2? And even more ridiculously, people took for granted that that was the way it should be.

    We do not need Shesterkin looking over his shoulder. We do not need a defense which is Hank-friendly. Consider “Smith was pretty decent as a fill-in for Skjei following the trade deadline.” Of course he was. All Ranger defensemen have been pretty decent when Hank is not in the game.

    By contrast, Staal is relatively harmless. Unlike a backup goaltender, there is normally no reason for a seventh defenseman to even play.

    • I agree he would be a great 7th defenseman.

      The problem is Staal has been the 7th defenseman maybe three times in his NYR career. If he is on the team, I don’t see how that changes.

  • The best thing to do imo is trade Georgie, sign DeAngelo, trade strome and let fast walk. Fill a couple of holes on cheap fa’s on one year deals. Do not buy anyone out and play next season as is. We are not a cup contender yet. Stop wasting money and build this team right. If by chance the king does retire, bring up one of the ton of goalies we have in our system.

  • Agreed. Buyouts are a major drag on flexibility and stop teams from making creative moves. They should only be used in extreme circumstances. I don’t know if Hank’s situation rises to that point. That said, it won’t be a major issue to buy him out because it’s only one year that the cap will carry tons of dead weight. And that before they can maybe find a way to off load Smith or Staal or both.

  • You just helped me settle things with some others who think every year we should buy someone out. Dead cap space never makes sense to me. Hockey players LOVE to play so I would go to Staal and tell him he needs to waive his NMC and give me teams to trade him to because we won’t be playing you. You’ll see how fast he’ll do it! Why, because these guy want to play! We have those 3 contracts that end after this upcoming season which is 18.5 million coming off the books so we ride it out and that’s that. Nice article

    • I agree with the no buyout premise, but your assertiom that you can strong arm a player to agree to a trade assumes there’s another team willing to take on that cap hit. I can assure you there is no team willing to take on Staal’s full cap hit.

      Rangers just need to ride out one more year with these players on the roster. The 3 goalie issue will be resolved when Georgiev is moved as a part of a trade package.

    • “Dead Cap Space” can make sense, it’s purely contextual. The dead space in the 2nd year is $1.5M, but Shattenkirk’s heavy dead cap hit shrinks considerably. We need the dead cap space to be at a minimum in 2 years time, so a Hank buyout has little effect on us (aside from the $3M it saves us next season).

      • The point people are missing is that Lundqvist’s salary is dead cap space whether he is on the team or not. Even if you make him the backup goalie (worth $1M ?), almost all of his $8.5M cap hit is dead cap space.

  • If we could trade two out of the three that would make our Lives so much easier and then we could re-sign the guys we need to resign and then go from there

  • The goal this season should be being competitive and clearing cap space for the future. Even if it subtracting talent makes us miss the playoffs, we will be better off going into the future.

    Now if the NHL allowed an amnesty buyout provision I would be on board.

    • DaRev

      “Now if the NHL allowed an amnesty buyout provision I would be on board.”

      Your right, the only way we buy out anyone in the future should be amnesty buyouts. JG has got to be cautious when signing anyone long term, we don’t need these headaches again!!!!!!!!!

  • Talk to Staal, tell him he will sit, or he can be traded, Staal releases the team from their NMC.

    Trade Smith to the Senators as described, at half retention. By so doing, we help them get to the cap floor.

    Advise Hank that if he ever wants to be involved with the Rangers in the future, he will retire, and becomes the face of the Rangers replacing Rod Gilbert.

    Problem solved as I see it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Keeping Staal and Lundquist on the roster this season frees up 11M next season. In addition to Girardi and Spooner coming off the books, and Shattenkirk dropping to a much more manageable number.

  • Staal has a partial ntc. Attach 2021 1st round pick to him and trade him away. 2021 is a weak draft and hopefully our first rounder will be in the late 20s. Trade Georgiev for a 2nd rounder plus a low salary roster player. Re-sign Strome to a 1 year contract while he is still a rfa. Gives Chytil another season to develop until he becomes the 2c. Hopefully Strome puts up good numbers and he can be traded at the deadline for a 1st rounder in 2021 or a 2022 2nd round pick. 2022 is supposedly a strong draft. Let Fast walk. Re-sign Tony D. Have him be LD next to Trouba. Trade Smith and a 2nd round pick for a cheap roster player for the 4th line. Sign a cheap ufa defenseman to play next to Hajek or Miller.

  • They can’t keep 3 goalies so they need to buy out Henrik. They need to keep Georgie and Igor. Since they can’t expose Lundqvist for the entry draft, buy him out rather than losing goaltending.

  • Hank’s contract has been killing us since they day it was signed. Even when he was playing out of his mind, it prevented us from adding that piece to put us over the top. And you certainly can’t pay that to a 3rd string goalie now! What to do from a business sense? “Well Hank, if you retire (and don’t make us dump players we want to keep) we will give you a glorious retirement ceremony and put your jersey up on the rafters. If you make us buy you out, you get none of that. You choose.” Should we EVER be retiring a jersey for a player we HAD to buy out? I think not! I know a million thumbs downs are coming and “Hank hater” accusations but isn’t it time for this blind devotion to stop? He may be one of the best, if not the best, ever but he’s been hurting the team now, not helping. Should such a player be immortalized when he comes at the expense of others? The legacy keeps getting tarnished as this goes on. If it’s just about the money, then retire and fill some other position with the team.

    • This course of action requires courage – and that is a scarce commodity. What you are proposing is actually a game of chicken since both sides are injured if the Rangers sever ties with Lundqvist. On one hand, Lundqvist suffers the greater injury since the Rangers are a great franchise with or without Lundqvist while Lundqvist is close to nothing without the Rangers. But the Rangers are at a disadvantage because the game gives them the last chance to blink and in a game of chicken, if you can blink and the other side can’t, you usually do.

      To be successful, the Rangers would have to convince Hank they really mean it, a tough sell.

      • I think that you seriously misjudge the relationship between the club and Hank if you think they would ever engage in that type of negotiation game with him. He is part of the Rangers family and will always be. I don’t believe any of that would ever take place.

        They might be talking to Hank about retiring. Hank might be considering retirement. I’d be surprised if he was not considering it if the Rangers have told him that he is going to be backing up Igor. In my opinion, Hank would hate being a back up all season. But, if the Rangers have not told him that and if he is instead being told that he has a shot at starting, then he would undoubtedly go for that due to his ego (which is something a goalie needs lot of to play in the NHL.)

        We will see, but I think that the most realistic outcome is that Hank retires. I doubt a buyout, and I also doubt we will see him as a backup.

        • If Hank were to retire after getting his signing bonus, under the MOU the dead cap hit would be $4.4mm this year only. $550k in deferred salary & bonuses sorta screws up the exact number.

  • No George, a non-ceremonial send off for Hank simply will never happen. It is not a realistic scenario.

    • Why is that not realistic? Why is it a game of chicken? This is the legacy HE is choosing to leave by not retiring and the front office needs to make that abundantly clear. Forgotten will be all those “almost” (and yes they are all just “almost” unfortunately) and what we will be remembering come soon will be all those players that had to go (depending on how their careers go wherever they are, of course) all so that someone whose ego got in the way, rather than the good of the franchise, can keep pretending that they are relevant. I know this is extremely harsh but you all know it to be true. I don’t think a player that would do this to his team deserves any accolades whatsoever. I already felt his diminishing play was tarnishing his image. But to lose people for someone that doesn’t know when to hang up his skates is not worth celebrating, IMHO.

      • You are conflating what you think should be done with what will be done. The Rangers will never burn bridges with Hank like that. You might think that they should. but they will not.

        • What is right for Ranger fans is for Lundqvist to retire. There is no issue here. If Hank helps them free up cap space, the organization will use that space not for profit but to build a better team.

          However, Lundqvist is entitled to his money and can insist on being bought out. Hank is entitled to make a busines decision (and that is what I expect as I think he will always put himself first). But why then are the Rangers not allowed to also make a business decision. Why must they bend over backwards?

          What happens if the Rangers sever ties with Lundqvist? It hurts the reputation of the organization, but they will survive. On the other hand, it really damages Lundqvist as ALL of his U.S. glory is tied up in the Rangers. If he is not a Ranger, he is not anything. Who knows – perhaps HOF voters will come to their senses and realize that a player who was a mediocrity for half his career (one who had to be bought out of a contract) does not belong in the Hall of Fame.

          I agree with you Peter that the Rangers will play the game like Hank has all of the cards. But really he has a losing hand.

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