Last night, Libor Hajek spilled the beans that Henrik Lundqvist may have played his final game with the NY Rangers. Whether or not this is true remains to be seen, but this is becoming more and more of a reality. If, and possibly when, the Rangers pull the trigger on the Henrik Lundqvist buyout, more offseason options present themselves.
Buyout Cap Implications
It’s well known that a buyout will save the Rangers $3 million in cap space this coming season. It will also cost them $1.5 million in dead cap space the following season. This is the simple math of the buyout.
The buyout will leave the Rangers with $17 million this offseason. In a flat cap, every dollar counts. The Rangers have four key RFAs and one key UFA to sign. The $3 million means the Rangers don’t have to trade Brendan Smith if they don’t want to.
The $3 million, $17 million total, gives the Rangers the flexibility to keep all 5 key free agents if they choose to. If you assume $6 million would go to Jesper Fast, Alex Georgiev, and Brendan Lemieux, then $11 million goes to Ryan Strome and Tony DeAngelo. It is worth noting that it is unlikely the Rangers keep all five players.
This is the definition of kicking the can down the road though. It’s highly unlikely the Rangers would commit long term to both Strome and DeAngelo. It’s even more unlikely that both would take less than their fair market value on long term deals. Kicking the can down the road is fine, but at some point the Rangers will need to either commit or walk away.
With so many teams imposing internal caps this season, the Rangers are primed to take advantage of a few teams. The extra $3 million in cap space does give them more flexibility to take on a larger cap hit in the short term. This of course assumes the cap will eventually rise within the next few seasons.
Let’s get wild. What if, for the Rangers to grab Jacob Chychrun from Arizona, they also need to take on the last year of Derek Stepan? When you pair this with the fact the Rangers are unlikely to keep all 5 RFAs, then it becomes an interesting black hole of hypotheticals. Pure speculation and spitballing though.
A Henrik Lundqvist buyout opens many options for the Rangers. It certainly allows Jeff Gorton to get creative in a one of a kind offseason. What the Rangers do with that space remains to be seen.