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
"Savings" of a Lundqvist buyout is $3M
"Savings" of a Staal buyout is $2,133,333
Difference of $866,667
Dead space for following year
Lundqvist – $1.5M
Staal – $1,066,667
So theoretically NYR could try and sell high on Georgiev, buyout Staal instead and then free up $1M. pic.twitter.com/xPCQ9cUtk7
— Tom Urtz Jr. (@TomUrtzJr) September 8, 2020
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.