Cap space shouldn’t lead to irresponsible RFA contracts for NY Rangers

By trading Marc Staal, the NY Rangers opened up $5.7 million in cap space this season. Assuming the Rangers also buyout Henirk Lundqvist, that’s another $3 million in cap space. All told, the Rangers will likely have $23 million in cap space this coming season. Almost immediately following the trade, armchair GMs across the interwebs locked in the NY Rangers’ RFAs to long term contracts.

Given what we know about contract expectations, they are both going to be expensive. Even more so if they are given long term deals. Is this the proper environment to commit long term to two players who each had 1.5 good seasons? Probably not. That said, there is a case for bringing back both on short term deals.

DeAngelo’s Role

Where does David Quinn envision DeAngelo playing next season and beyond? Is it on the third pair as an offensive/powerplay specialist? Will they consider moving him to the left side, something we’ve spent almost a year advocating for? This is the biggest decision for the Rangers, and it impacts the contract they *should* give DeAngelo.

If Quinn’s expectation is the former, then committing long-term for big dollars to a specialist does not make fiscal sense. If it’s the latter, then committing some term is ok. Emphasis on some.

Strome’s Future

Even before the offseason began, there were questions on Ryan Strome’s future with the Rangers. Rumblings are the Rangers don’t view him as a viable solution to the 2C hole. If this is the case, then committing any money to him beyond short term is fiscally irresponsibly.

We haven’t heard anything on Strome beyond that he’s on TSN’s trade bait list. Strome is likely headlining the RFAs that appear to be on the outside looking in.

ELC Bonuses

This is a tricky one. The Rangers will have a decent chunk of cap space that may need to be allocated to ELC bonuses. The contracts come with under $1 million in base salary, but some could get upwards of $3 million in bonuses. Kaapo Kakko, Adam Fox, Igor Shesterkin, and Alexis Lafreniere could all see some bonuses hit.

Spending to the top of the cap ceiling would mean these bonuses carry over to next year. There’s a cap on how much can carry over as well (I think – keep me honest in the comments). So the Rangers will need cap space to account for this.

It seems weird, as Ranger fans, to not spend to the cap ceiling every season. The Rangers are primed to take advantage of pandemic induced internal budget casualties, but will do so responsibly. This thinking applies to their RFAs as well. Spending wildly on irresponsible RFA contracts can doom the NY Rangers. Spending responsibly is key.

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  • Let’s agree that the NYR need to improve their roster for the 20-21 season. Let’s also agree that CAP flexibility and a deep farm system are necessary to be competitive.

    We seem to be on the right track here. Now, what do we do? Bring back the same players that failed us in the playoffs? Or do we use our cash and picks and young players to make us more of a powerhouse next year? Watch for Gorton to pay Tony D, let Strome and Fast go bargain mightily with Lemieux.

    Put a few mill in the bank for the ELCs and hold tight – be ready for the next CAP strangled team to look for an out – then we pounce.

    • I think you are mostly right. I think keeping Fast would be a smart move. If they can find a good two way center (that can win faceoffs. Very important) it could be the start of a serious shut down third line. Hell even Kreids on the right using his speed and size to forecheck. It could be a killer third line to shut down top lines, and hammer the defense with the forecheck. We haven’t had that in awhile, and it was a weakness in this playoff debacle.

  • As with many contracts the issues are more NTC/NMC than whether or not you spend an extra 500k on the cap — not to diminish the affect of the cap hit, but in the case of DeAngelo at least I feel that paying him say $5M or so for 3-4 years is a sound move. A 50-60 point RD that can really run a PP is a valuable commodity — the key though is to be able to trade a player like that when and how you want. At a minimum he’s a Top 4 d’man who can run a PP.

    In the case of Strome however, there’s still a question of whether he’s a legitimate 2C, so I would be more cautious — that said I think he would be a good expose for the expansion draft, an attractive asset for a new team. 2 years @ $4-4.5M.

    Lastly, Fast — again, without a NMC and stringent NTC … and on a 2-3 year contract around $3M, a versatile solid player like Fast will have trade value. Until all the ELCs (and Mika’s new contract), he’s someone we can afford even if he’s playing on a 3rd or 4th line (where he should be).

    UFAs should be avoided unless they’re cheap 1-2 year bargains.

    • Agree with your approach, Tanto, except on one point: I think I’d be more aggressive trying to trade Strome now. No way he’s going to continue to be Panarin’s center, and i dont expect he’d be particularly good centering anyone else — he certainly wouldn’t be worth nearly the $ he’ll be looking for. He’s coming off a season where he put up points and his trade value is likely at its peak, so I say we get on the right side of this and move him now, rather than take a chance he’ll duplicate those point totals again.

      • I have nothing against trading Strome now, but I don’t think other teams will rate him as a bona fide 2C either. Not too sure about his true value right now. Of course the real issue is whether or not Chytil (or someone obtained in a trade) can legitimately step up into the 2C role NOW. Plus if Chytil is deemed the guy, I may want to consider changing up the Top 6 lines — but that always involves a certain amount of risk, especially in the chemistry department.

        • Yeah, i agree it’s tricky to gauge Strome’s value to other teams, and how much weight they give to his point total last season, but I’d at least try to find a taker — can’t imagine there will be a better opportunity than now. Either way, it’s time to move forward, either with Chytil or an import, and I have no problem with changing up the top 6 to put players together in a way that makes sense — not exactly a Quinn strength so far.

  • I can see JG making many moves at the draft. We know who will be #1, but we have to see what happens after the end of the first round. I can see the cap strapped teams dump some quality players, and or trades made because of internal caps.

    I would rather talk with Florida to see if we could make a trade for their #1 pick, and go for Lundell. Best case scenario, trade for Aleksander Barkov. He would be cheaper to get, and would be a terrific 2C. Additionally, coming from Finland, Kakko would have someone to relate to.

    In two weeks, we will know exactly what we have, and what we need, and then sign our RFA. Time will tell!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Still need to move D.Smith and buyout Hank. Then we actually have some ca$h. Might not be a bad idea to sign a guy like Fox to a longer term deal. We have to have some trust in Gorton. He made a smart trade for Fox, and got the Breadman here. Also got someone to take Staal at full salary. None of this was easy.

  • We really need to start thinking of building with bigger more physical players combined with skill and grit if we are going to compete for the Stanley Cup. Get rid of to many softies on the team, like yes, Chytil, Bush, Fast for a start. Playoff hockey is a different animal, speed, hitting, skill, tenacity and toughness. Look at the teams that go deep in the play-offs and compete to win the cup. Always the combination of bigger, fast, skilled, and gritty. Last year it was St. Louis, this year it was the Islanders, Dallas, and Tampa Bay, just to mention a few. The Rangers have a history of to many small soft players or big unphysical soft players. One enforcer or hitter is not enough. Toughness along with speed and skill must be included in the overall chemistry of the team. The last time they won in 94, they had the right combination to play against the skilled fast teams as well as the bigger more physical teams. There must be the right balance to go deeper into the playoffs.

    • Craig

      Did I post this? Sounds like something I’ve been saying for the longest time. Agree 100%, and a thumbs up for your post!!!!!!

      • Rangers only have 1 guy (Kreider) and 1/2 (LeM) who are willing to stand in front of goalies. They provide more operating room for the finesse guys on the line. I was hoping Gauthier would add some physicality but he seems to be a another big guy who prefers to play a finesse game. Look what Maroon provided to the Blues and Lightning the last 2 Cups! Rangers need to add 2-Maroon type players this off-season!

    • Craig/Walt, and all others about the net front presence/screen.

      Traditionally, yes you are right. And ideally you want someone in front of the net for screens and deflections. Kreider is one of the best in the game at that.

      But…..I have a post on this coming tomorrow.

    • IMO, what’s needed for “the overall chemistry of the team” is COMMITMENT. By that I mean playing every shift as if the game depends on it, because it may. It means never backing off on an opportunity to throw your body into a solid check on your opponent. It means going after every loose puck, and doing your best to knock the puck free if it’s not loose. It means gritting your teeth and dealing with the pain of blocking a shot if you have to. It means going at full speed all the time, no matter if your team is winning, or losing, or tied, in the first period and on your last shift of the game. It means talking to your teammates, cheering up the ones that are down, celebrating their good plays, and helping them avoid repeating the bad ones. It means keeping your head in the game all the time, so you’re ready to go every time you jump over the boards. That’s what I saw from the Lightning, and the Stars, the Bruins, the Avalanche, every team that did well in the playoffs.

  • If they cannot swing a deal for a 2C, then they should give Strome a short deal. He doesn’t have much leverage as a RFA, so don’t over spend on him. I don’t think he merits a long term and rich deal.

    On Tony D, the idea that he is only a PP specialist is not borne out by the facts. He had 34 5×5 points out of his 53 points. The kid is a weapon at even strength as well as on the power play. So, I will repeat my oft repeated refrain: guys with skill don’t grow on trees. Sign that kid to a reasonable contract.

    • I agree on all your points regarding Tony D and add that he (1) plays with an edge (2) stands up for teammates in scrums and (3) knocked out a bigger player (Opposo) with a straight right! Tony D is a highly skilled player who plays with a lot of grit…..reminds me a lot of Zucc!

  • ELC bonus clarifications:
    1: Under MOU, players on ELC can now earn up to $3.5mm in category A & B bonuses.

    2 : Per CBA 50.5(h)(ii) teams are allowed to go over the cap by 7.5% in order to pay out performance bonuses. This year that means they can go up to $87.612mm. After that, bonuses get tacked on to the next year’s cap.

  • Is everyone forgetting why Trouba wanted out out Winnipeg? Did he not get tired of not being used on the powerplay and want more ice time? Is that not why we gave him a 7year 8mil a year contract? So why are we now looking to give Tony D. a contract to do what we are paying Trouba to do? With him and now Fox why do we need another offensive defenseman for the 3rd pairing at 5 mil+ a year? We need help on left defense and center not another right side Fox had over 40 points and didn’t get much powerplay time so how many more points would he have if he took Tony D’s spot on the powerplay?

    • I don’t think the vast majority of people here want to move Tony D … and there’s nothing inherently wrong with paying Tony $5M for 55-60 points per year as long as the left side comes in real cheap. I think you have to consider the fact that if you believe Tony is the real deal and didn’t just have 1.5 fluke seasons, then you want to maximize his trade value — and that may mean a long bridge deal (like 3 years) at a reasonable amount ($5M is cheap for a 55-60 point guy that can run a PP, especially an RD). When the pressure is brought to bear on the Rangers to move an RD, either because the left side needs more money or because Lundkvist is the real deal, they can make the necessary decisions then — and trade out of a position of strength.

  • I believe the rangers should hold onto the 1st and draft laf… that being said look to capitalize on a strome deal ! Bring in any assets to help us move up in the draft if needed! I would love to see a Tony D trade for either a 2C or sign him to a reasonable 2-3 year around 5M AVV just to give Lindqvist time

  • Great goalie, super competitor and nice hair. Lundqvist will be remember as the greatest goalie in Ranger history and there has been some pretty awesome Ranger netminders. But the time comes when every great athlete has to call it a day. This is the right move at the right time for the club.

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