A Patrik Nemeth trade or buyout is a priority for the Rangers
A common theme of this offseason for the Rangers is creating cap space for 2022-2023, but more importantly 2023-2024. This summer is going to be tight, but the Rangers do need to be prepared for the following summer when Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil, and K’Andre Miller will all need new contracts. The easiest way for the Rangers to clear cap space is with a Patrik Nemeth trade or buyout, and that is a priority for the Rangers.
This is no disrespect to Nemeth, who was dealing with long COVID for most of the season, taking multiple leaves from the team for personal reasons. It’s clear something was off with him all season, and he never truly recovered from it. If/When the Rangers and Nemeth part ways, we do hope he’s able to get back on track.
Nemeth trade options
The preference for the Rangers would be to trade Nemeth. That way there are no lingering cap hits, and they may be able to get some sort of tangible asset in return. It’s unlikely, but then again the Rangers were able to find a taker for Brett Howden. There are plenty of teams that would take a low-risk swing on Nemeth. He was solid in Colorado, and if teams think it was “just” long COVID impacting him, then he could be a shrewd option.
Or, at the very least, he’s a body that fills some gaps for teams looking to retool or rebuild. Nemeth’s 8 team no trade list is going to be a barrier, but not a difficult one to overcome. We should assume the usual suspects like Buffalo and Ottawa are on his list, but there are enough teams out there that might be able to use Nemeth that his modified NTC shouldn’t be too big of a deal.
Anaheim and LA come to mind right off the bat, as both teams could use a body on defense. Even Dallas, should they forego re-signing John Klingberg, could use a body. This is just speculation, based on team needs, and there’s nothing concrete that says these teams are even real options.
As for return, don’t expect much. The Rangers may get a mid round pick out of it, and that’s probably best case scenario. I do not think, at least for now, that the Rangers need to add an asset to dump the salary.
As for a Nemeth buyout, the numbers are actually a little better than you might think.
Nemeth’s $2.5 million cap hit for next season becomes $1 million, but factor in the cost to add a 6D ($1 million, most likely), and it’s about $500,000 savings for 2022-2023. The big savings is 2023-2024, when the Rangers save the full $2.5 million, a big win for them. The $1 million cap hits for the following two seasons aren’t ideal, but it could be worse. The key is the full savings in 2023-2024.
Which is better? A Nemeth trade or buyout?
When it comes to a Nemeth trade or buyout, it really depends on what is out there in a trade market. The trade is preferable, as hopefully the Rangers would be able to get another dart throw in the draft. However that may not be available for them. You can only trade with a willing partner, and the willing partners may not be there.
There’s also the option of a retained salary trade, but that isn’t the best option given when the Rangers need the cap space. Anything more than $1 million retained in a trade makes the buyout a potentially better option.
So if a trade is not an option in the Nemeth trade or buyout scenario, a buyout is the only other path. The buyout clears the cap space for when they need it most, but it still presents a hurdle in extra cap space taken up in 2024-2025 and 2025-2026. The Rangers should be able to manage that, or at least plan a little better, but it’s not ideal.
It’s disappointing that Nemeth didn’t work out with the Rangers. The contract may have been one year too long, but there weren’t many people who thought this was a bad signing. Sometimes, that’s just how hockey goes.