What does a Ryan Strome discount look like?
It’s Ryan Strome week, as contract discussions have kicked off, per Larry Brooks. Naturally the Rangers were going to have discussions with Strome, as it’s all about getting information about Strome’s contract asks. More importantly for Chris Drury, it’s wondering what the lowest amount is that Strome will take. Which gets us to a Ryan Strome discount, and what that may look like.
Open market price
The first thing to accept is that Strome will get more on the open market as an unrestricted free agent. Full stop. The Rangers will need a Ryan Strome discount in order to keep him in New York. They don’t have the cap space beyond the 2022-2023 season to make it work.
On the open market, Strome is likely going to get a 5-6 year deal in the $6.5 million range. That’s what Evolving-Hockey has him at as of this past offseason. Now a big “BUT” (ha) is added here, as this was as of last offseason. Strome is close to a point per game right now, which drives his price up. Don’t discount the ‘A’ on his sweater and the perceived leadership role he has on the team. GMs love that stuff.
With a cap ceiling maybe going to $82.5 million, Strome may get closer to $7 million on a long term deal. A lot of things need to go right for him, but that’s likely what it comes down to.
Ryan Strome discount
The next question is wondering what a Ryan Strome discount looks like. This is not the same price as what the Rangers can afford. A discount is the lowest Strome will take to stay with the Rangers and partnered with Artemiy Panarin. What the Rangers can afford could be under that amount, thus making it more likely Strome walks.
Per Brooks’ article, he thinks the Rangers might be able to get him for multiple years at $5 million per season. So basically that’s the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins deal, but hopefully for less than 8 years. Nuge got $5.125 million, which was a huge discount. However he got more financial certainty with it, locking himself up through his age-35 season.
For Strome, his age-35 season is 7 seasons away. It’s safe to assume that a Ryan Strome discount on the cap hit means more years on the contract.
What can the Rangers afford?
What the Rangers can afford is the million dollar question. If we operate under the assumption Strome gets $5.125 million and there’s an $82.5 million cap ceiling, then that leaves $6.475 million in cap space next offseason to re-sign Kaapo Kakko and Julien Gauthier (and possibly Kevin Rooney), and add a backup goalie.
If you assume that Morgan Barron and his ELC replace Rooney, and the Rangers get a $1 million backup goalie, that leaves the Rangers with $4.55 million in cap space for Kakko and Gauthier.
It is also a safe assumption that the Rangers will go bridge deals with both Kakko and Gauthier. Gauthier is a given here, but some may push back on Kakko getting bridged. Remember, it takes two to tango. Kakko betting on himself to get a larger payday two years from now is far more likely than him settling for what could only be $4 million on a longer term deal (again, per Evolving-Hockey). Now it is only December, so things can change. Same caveat above regarding the EH estimates right now.
But next year isn’t the issue. It’s 2023-2024 and beyond. We get into murkier waters trying to project cap ceilings, trades, etc at this point. But what we do know is that heading into 2023-2024, Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil (arbitration), and K’Andre Miller all need new deals. There’s not much coming off the books either. So unless there’s a big cap ceiling increase (unlikely, thanks COVID), then the Rangers have tough decisions to make. They won’t be able to afford Strome at $5.125 million and also re-sign all of those kids.
That said, there are a lot of kids in Hartford right now, especially on the blue line. Make of that what you will.
As for a Ryan Strome discount, the Rangers can, in theory, make it work. As with any long term contract, the risk would be on the back-end of the deal, and less on the front-end. I think it’s safe to assume that Strome was a late bloomer, and New York was a good fit for him. He’s been fantastic, and naturally keeping him is the better option than finding a replacement. It can be done, but it’s going to hurt elsewhere in the lineup.