With the Pierre-Luc Dubois situation in Columbus becoming untenable, all eyes are on how this plays out. Naturally, this has led to numerous trade scenarios and proposals that involve the Rangers. Most are either completely whiffing on value or are just jokes. For example, it would be hilarious to see Tony DeAngelo being coached by John Tortorella. But the reality is that the Rangers simply don’t have the cap space, now or later, to make a big trade. At least not yet.
Kids Need New Deals
Dubois can actually fit on the Rangers in the immediate short term if the Rangers shed enough cap space. That’s why DeAngelo or Ryan Strome are all in these trade proposals. It’s just to offset salary. However that only works for this year and maybe next.
After this season, Filip Chytil, Ryan Lindgren, and Igor Shesterkin are all getting raises. This is offset by $9 million in buyout cap hits coming off the books. Brett Howden and Julien Gauthier are also due new contracts, but I can’t see them getting big raises.
The issue is the 2022 offseason. That’s when a big deal for Adam Fox is likely coming. Kaapo Kakko is also due a raise, but given his rookie year it may not be as big as anticipated. That said, a big contract year is never out of the question. I’d expect about $8 million between these two, just as a ballpark.
Then the 2023 offseason comes, where Alexis Lafreniere and K’Andre Miller are due new contracts.
None of this includes any potential deals for Nils Lundkvist, Matthew Robertson, Vitali Kravtsov, or some of the other bigger name prospects.
Mika Zibanejad’s contract is the elephant in the room. He will be 28 years old in the 2022 offseason, which is when his contract expires. His next contract is likely to be in the 7-8 year range at, assuming current production, the $10 million range, give or take. That’s *a lot*.
If the Rangers make a big splash, then Zibanejad is almost assuredly not coming back after his current deal is up. We can debate –and we will, trust me– whether or not Zibanejad’s next deal is worth it, but the fact is the Rangers can’t afford to keep him, with another big contract, and all the next level deals coming up for the kids.
Also up this offseason is Pavel Buchnevich, who will get a raise on his $3.2 million cap hit. Buchnevich is very good, and if anything under appreciated by many in this fan base. He is also turning 26 and off to a great start. If the Rangers re-sign him, since he’s the only viable RW at the moment, then he’s going to cost a pretty penny.
A Big Trade Means Salary
It’s safe to assume that any big trade, be it Dubois or others, comes with salary. The Rangers are certainly able to manage that in the short term, especially if Strome or DeAngelo are included in the deal. But again, the issue isn’t one contract, it’s the many contracts.
The Rangers already have 32% of the cap tied up in Artemi Panarin, Jacob Trouba, and Chris Kreider. If we assume Zibanejad gets 10% of the cap, then that’s 42% of the cap in four players. This big trade likely makes that number jump to 50% in five players.
That’s half the cap space in just five players. Not including next contracts for Fox, Lafreniere, Shesterkin, Kakko, and Buchnevich. The numbers just don’t work here. A big trade for the Rangers just isn’t in the cards as currently constructed with the cap. All this can change, of course, but right now it just doesn’t fit.