Business of HockeyIrresponsible Rumormongering

Rangers accruing cap space through taxi squad assignments – is a move coming?

An aspect of the season that is currently getting overlooked is how the Rangers are managing their taxi squad. The CapFriendly Transactions Twitter account is tweeting regularly with roster updates. Most are paperwork transactions that result in saving a few cap dollars. For the Rangers, this means sending players like Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere, K’Andre Miller, and Igor Shesterkin to the taxi squad at various times for cap reasons.

In doing this, the Rangers save cap space. Kakko, for example, makes just $70,000 for the season in the AHL, compared to the $925,000 in salary –plus bonuses– at the NHL level. I’m not well versed in how the math works, but the NHL season this year is roughly 137 days. Kakko makes around $6,700 per day in the NHL, and about $500 per day when on the taxi squad. That’s about $6,200 in salary difference for Kakko, but also $6,200 in cap savings for the Rangers. Multiply that by multiple days and players, and the cap space adds up quickly.

When the Rangers started the season, they had virtually no cap space. Now, with the taxi squad moves and the Tony DeAngelo situation, the Rangers will have ~$7 million in cap space at the trade deadline. This will come down, obviously, when Kakko, Shesterkin, and Libor Hajek are recalled off the taxi squad. But the Rangers have made moves to gain a little cap space in abundance.

*-Don’t hold me to the numbers, just the logic please. I’m not 100% on the numbers. But the cap is calculated daily and space is accrued daily. So that part checks out.

Trade Incoming

The first thing that comes to mind is a trade might be incoming. The Rangers are in desperate need of another center. It’s not a good thing when Ryan Strome is the best center on the team. But that’s the situation the Rangers have right now. Mika Zibanejad will get going. Filip Chytil will eventually get healthy. But even long-term the Rangers have very few centers.

The Blueshirts also have this Tony DeAngelo situation that needs resolving. Trading DeAngelo does net cap space, but the Rangers want value. Value doesn’t come with a $0 cap hit. Perhaps there is a team looking to shed an expensive, but young and good, center in return for DeAngelo? Grasping at straws here, but it did cross my mind.

One area I don’t expect the Rangers to make a trade is on the blue line. There are too many prospects, with some knocking at the door, for the Rangers to swing a deal there.

Next Wave of Prospects

This is the most logical situation. Morgan Barron and Tarmo Reunanen both address areas of need for the Rangers. Reunanen has been great in his first two games in the AHL, but again it is only two games. Barron has looked solid as well, but he’s been playing on the wing to start the season.

Barron and Reunanen are the two most likely players to be recalled. They are the best prospects in the AHL at the moment that also address positions of need. It is worth noting that Patrick Khodorenko is off to a good start, and he’s currently playing center with the Pack.

From a cap perspective, both come with complications. Barron is ~$1.7 million in cap dollars when you factor in bonuses. Reunanen comes in at a shade under $1 million. The Rangers, if they don’t want to have a bonus penalty next season, need to stay under that threshold. The taxi squad moves are making cap flexibility available to them, when it wasn’t prior.

Every cap dollar counts for the Rangers. Jeff Gorton is being very shrewd with the Rangers taxi squad management, which to me is signaling a move is coming. The Rangers just need the cap flexibility, both to make the move and to keep a steady roster after the move. Let’s see how this plays out.

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    • Yea that deal is not even close. Buffalo has no use for Strome and D’Angelo (Rangers spare parts). That proposed deal is basically Kravtsov and a 1st and that’s not gonna do it.

      • I agree that the Sabres don’t make that trade, but one team’s spare part can be another team’s cornerstone — that might be a slight exaggeration, but the principle is sound. DeAngelo on a strong defensive team that’s lacking a good PP QB is valuable — aside from the peripheral issues associated with him.

    • More like Krav (Lafren is untouchable), Kakko, Nils, and a first. And maybe DeAngelo to make the $$ work.

      Deal? I would say no.

  • The Taxi squad is interesting way too save cap space but as you could see it effects players salaries. I think the Rangers are a first class organization but be very careful playing with the Taxi Squad

    Buffalo isn’t trading Eichel this season he was paid a bonus of $7.5 million before the season, so his salary for the season $2.5 million. The proposed deals below will not get Eichel to Broadway. In my opinion, we are loaded with young talent and we truly want Eichel make a real offer. I think to get Eichel it will be a one 1st rounder if not 2 1st rounders and stud prospect at bare minimum. Adding Eichel, keeping Mika and Chytil as your top 3 centers, that says contender for few cups.

    There is a lot of talent around the NHL that will be on the market come the off season. Teams will need to shed payroll because the lack revenue. Next year the Rangers have $8 million of dead money coming off the cap and $5.5 million comes off with Smith and Johnson being UFA’s. The players that we need to sign that will get a raise is Buch and Lindgren and with the way the are playing I want to keep them. I would think we will get younger on the blue with Hajek and Nillson playing as regulars in the National league.

    Looking at all the facts for the first time in my 46 years the Rangers are the youngest team in NHL , loaded with top end prospects and most importantly will have space to make moves. I personally think they will make a strong effort to get Eichel and they have prospects, picks and most importantly cap space to get it done. I trust JD and Gorton on steering the Rangers in the right direction. I am not a huge David Quinn fan but that is a conversation for another time.

    • “The Taxi squad is interesting way too save cap space but as you could see it effects players salaries. I think the Rangers are a first class organization but be very careful playing with the Taxi Squad”

      I agree with you here Eric. First and foremost, what the Ranges are doing is “cheating” Kakko, Miller, etc. out of part of their salary. I realize it is for a good cause, but hard feelings are a big risk.

  • David Quinn is a discussion that needs to happen now. You can’t keep punishing players by benching them or taking them out to the woodhouse. People don’t play well when they’re intimidated. Cut the talent loose and let the boys play their game and they will respond.

  • Reunanen hasn’t been great, just has had great luck. A seeing eye goal, followed by a booming one timer off a faceoff from the hash mark.

    Production on D is a function of usage and he’s been used optimally. He’s taken 40% of the shots from the D corps.

  • The Rangers have one new asset that has not been noticed here yet. With the departure of DeAngelo, the Rangers no longer have three defensemen they need to protect in the draft. Unless Hajek emerges, it seems unlikely that a third will appear.

    It is now more appealing for the Rangers to acquire a good defenseman. Also, it opens the door for a cute 3 way trade ay draft time. Acquire a defenseman from team A before the draft and trade him to team B after the draft. This benefits teams A and B as neither has to protect said player – and the Rangers can perhaps use that to their advantage.

  • The roster moves are to bank enough credits so Barron can get on Broadway. He plays a sound positional game on the wing, can skate and has size, but who does he bump off?

    AQA on the taxi squad means he a daliy cap credit of ~$6,400 while they eat another $31,000.

  • What Quinn is doing isn’t going to work and the team isn’t going to win consistently in this league because we’re too easy to defend. He is going to get himself fired because he isn’t skilled enough with strategy.

    Deploying players in the proper spots to succeed is where he’s lacking and this is the most important thing in the NHL.

    For example, the reason the powerplay is lacking is because he has no one timers. He needs Panarin on the left and Laf (preferably), Kakko or Buch on the right so that they can shoot off the pass not giving teams and goalies time to slide and set for the shot.

    For most of our games, he had four right handed shooters on the powerplay, Zib, Panarin, Strome, Fox, Kreider in front, the only lefty. Teams would just cheat over and guard Panarin allowing Strome to be open because Strome can’t shoot off the pass, he never did and we barely ever scored. Then, when he finally changed it, he moved our best shooter Panarin to the right wing and either put Zib another righty on the left side…… It took him so long to change it and he still changed it wrong again.

    Whoever he puts out he needs a righty lefty on their offsides for the one timer on that umbrella powerplay he runs. This isn’t that hard to figure out… he’s not an nhl coach guys I’m sorry, he isn’t. Any person who thinks the game the right way would not deploy four right handed players on the first unit when they have three other great options.

    Where is our GM looking? This means Gorton doesn’t get it either which is troublesome. I played hockey all my life, this is fundamental stuff and we have the personnel to deploy in those spots. This team needs a coach who can strategically deploy our players in the proper spots to get them going.

    • You’re so correct, McD!!! Look no further than what Thibs is doing with a Knicks team that stink last year. This is an example of a professional coach smart enough to put Quickley next to a seasoned vet like Derrick Rose. Look at the results!!! College coach DQ has Laf playing next to Howden. Blackwell on the top line with Buch on the 3rd line. DQ does not have a high IQ (a critical factor in player assessment) when it comes to strategy and player deployment. After 25%-30% of the season gone by, DQ still takes the dartboard approach to his 4 lines. If your 4th line scores 2 of the teams goals like the other night, why did they receive 10 minutes of playing time?

      • Richter, agreed exactly!!! The 4th and 3rd lines need to be a combination of Rooney, Lemieux, Howden, Gauthier, DiGiusseppe and another guy who plays heavy and can fight that we don’t have. Heavy, chippy, take it to the net type game. Bottom 6 hockey. The other top two lines need to be offensive. Get rid of Strome and Buchnevich, build a proper team. Everything is just mangled together. That’s why the team isn’t winning. Buchnevich is taking up Kakko and Lafs playing time and Buch doesn’t like to play on the third line, he gets mad when coaches put him there and doesn’t play that type of low maintenance game.

        I can go on all day because we have so many combinations that we can try with this team that haven’t been tried yet because the approach to team and lineup structure isn’t there.

  • Don’t see a trade coming right now. DeAngelo will not be traded but as the cheaper option likely bought out. As for the vets; consider that the schedule pits them against some of the leagues best. Except for the Panarin line, maybe the vets are not as good as they are believed to be. They can score against the NHL bottom half but have difficulty with the top half talent. Didn’t Carolina just steamroll past the vets in last years playoffs?

  • Why is Morgan Barron on the left wing? He’s 6’5″ 225 pounds and is a natural center with a good shot from what it seems from his time in Cornell….. Everything is backwards with this team. This is what happens when you have the wrong personnel running the team lol

    • Rangers beat writers should ask Assistant/Associate GM Drury this very question. Moving a natural center like Barron to LW when the parent team is devoid of centers is as “thoughtless” as putting a career LW like Laf on the right wing on the 2nd line!

    • The Rangers do not view him as a center. But the Rangers view Howden as a center, so draw your own conclusions from that.

  • Rangers are banking that all of there deficiencies will be plugged by prospects that are in the pipeline …. if you read between the JD cheeseburgers…… leadership has no intentions on making any impact trades, however our centerman position is atrocious, and yes we do need an impact centerman… We have a ton of wingers, but no Centers.

    • I’ve seen Kravtsov play center in the world juniors and he was good. He has the size, skill and hockey sense to be successful in the NHL. A bit soft, but he’s better than Strome and Chytil.

  • The Rangers may make a move, or just ride out the season and then go all in for next year.

    Might as well get another high level draft pick, at this point. IDK, get a center high in the draft? Maybe?

    • In addition to a 2-way or offensive center, Rangers still need to add a big, nasty forward to this lineup.

        • Sad but so true! There are so many players miscast on this team. After raving about Buch early in the season, DQ pulls him and puts him on the 3rd line. Kreider spent time on the 3rd line. Zib should be getting 3rd line minutes until he gets out of his post-Covid funk. If I’m Buch, I’m pissed and muttering under my breath, “Fu@);:& you Coach!!!” Fox, Lindgren, Miller have excelled because of their natural talents and NOT because of DQ teachings. PP is neutered without DeAngelo (who made David Oliver look like a genius last year). Buch, Laf, Kakko, and Howden have struggled because of DQ deployment. This is DQs 3rd year. Look at the 4 wins and 9 loss record, JD!!! You would have thought this was the Knicks record 🤣

        • Laf /Chytil / Simmons would have been a terrific 3rd line this year. Nice blend of talent and grit!

          • I don’t really like Chytil Richter, he’s soft and isn’t going to flourish into this consistent highly skilled second line center everyone wants him to be. I was thinking more of Morgan Barron, Simmonds and Grabner from free agency as great third line.

          • That’s a nice combo too. However, Grabner excelled under AVs system but hasn’t been the same or efficient since leaving the Rangers.

  • Get rid of the over-rated 25 year old Bushnevich in a trade package for a decent center. The guy though a decent player, can’t score goals, certainly can’t defend himself, gets out muscled, and is replaceable. Plus, he is due for a new contract. We gave youth a chance last year with Fox and Lindgren, and Miller this year and they flourished. You don’t win in the playoffs with to many soft inconsistent average players. The Morgan’s and Reunanen’s need to be given an opportunity to come to the big club and play. We need Morgans size, grit, and skill. There is a question as to why the DeAngelo thing couldn’t be worked out with disciplinary measures from the coach and staff? He may have some issues, but things could have been somewhat blown out of proportion as many things can be. If it is about his political views, that is his personal right as an American. Many times players have altercations on teams, and it is worked through. We lost a very talented young player with little or no return. I am not trying to stick up for him, because we don’t know all the details, I’m just saying that it may have been exaggerated or maybe a personal vendetta between the coach and him, who knows for sure. Throwing him completely off the team perhaps was a little drastic.

  • I’m a day late, but the aren’t accruing cap space by doing this. They only gain the space temporarily, while the player is on the taxi squad. They don’t permanently save the cap money. What’s going on here is that the Team wants to save money because we’re in a pandemic, and the Rangers are bleeding money daily. The salary savings for them is significant. Nothing to do with cap space. And certainly not building up cap space for a trade.

    • Incorrect. Cap hits accrue daily as stated in the article. So they do bank some cap space. The only part of the article that is slightly wrong on is they are not in much danger as of now of receiving a bonus overage penalty… since they are already over the % of bonuses allowed they are actually being penalized THIS season preemptively, eventhough most of those bonuses will never be reached. It’s unfortunate because it’s about another 3.5m they couldn’t spend this year… and will remain a problem until Kakko and Shesh are finished with their ELCs.

      • Yeah, I said that way too confidently. But it seems so weird to allow teams to do that. It’s like a cheat code for getting additional cap space, no?

  • don’t the rangers need to see what their own centers in are doing in hartford before they jump off of the bridge ? they’ve got some interesting centers down there.

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