The Rangers' eventually utilized the buyout period, which either began when we thought or didn't, depending on who you believe or follow, on Kevin Shattenkirk. To me and to many of us, utilizing the buyout was probably a last resort. A trade coupled with the possible buyout of one of the other blueliners was likely a more palatable option, yet for what was probably a variety of reasons, a Shattenkirk buyout was where New York landed to create cap space.
The buyout period:
Have just learned that because Buchnevich contract was not filed until Saturday, NYR buyout window does not open until 12:01 AM...Sorry for previous confusion.
Since contract filed Saturday, first business day is Monday. The three business days after filing then are Monday-Wednesday, meaning window opens when clock hits Thursday. Question is when do the two days end. Is it Saturday at 5pm? https://t.co/JwNTnph5OJ
Apologies folks. The buyout window opens three BUSINESS days after the last arbitration case is settled. So, since Buchnevich's case was settled Friday night, that means Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday - and the window opens tomorrow.
Regardless of when the buyout actually begins or began, Shattenkirk is the one who is being jettisoned to create a cap room. New York clearly viewed this as the best or possibly the only option. The other choices that might have been available never materialized, or if they did, would not have made the Rangers cap compliant.
New York may have tried to deal Vladislav Namestnikov to create $4 million in cap room. But they might have been required to eat some of the contract, which would not have created enough space, thereby necessitating another move. In addition, by not front loading the contract or making part of the salary in the form of a bonus, New York limited their options. The Rangers could have bought out Nam, saving $2.667 million this season with a $1,333 cap hit this year and next.
Another possibility was to buyout Ryan Strome during the first buyout period. Strome did come on last season, largely - or partially - aided by a high shooting percentage. He showed some signs of why he was such a high draft pick and for now is likely penciled in as the team's second line center. But if Filip Chytil or Vitali Kravtsov prove capable, Strome might be moved to wing and he is possible deadline deal candidate. If he had been bought out before the draft, Strome would have saved $2,666,667 against the cap this season and had a dead cap hit of $533,333 this season and next. If both Nam and Strome had been bought out, the net savings of $5.2 mil in all probability would have created enough room to avoid a buyout, but as we see, that was not the case.
Now on to the defensemen:
On Smith, Shattenkirk and Staal: I ran this a few times before, but again, here’s what it could cost to buyout one of the veteran defensemen and how much cap space it would save each year, according to CapFriendly’s buyout calculator:
2019-20 — Cap hit: $1,483,833; Savings: $5,166,667
2020-21 — Cap hit: $6,083,333; Savings: $566,667
2021-22 — Cap hit: $1,433,333; Savings: -$1,433,333
2022-23 — Cap hit: $1,433,333; Savings: -$1,433,333
2019-20 — Cap hit: $2.9 million; Savings: $2.8 million
2020-21 — Cap hit: $3.7 million; Savings: $2 million
2021-22 — Cap hit: $1.2 million; Savings: -$1.2 million
2022-23 — Cap hit $1.2 million; Savings: -$1.2 million
2019-20 — Cap hit: $970,833; Savings: $3,379,167
2020-21 — Cap hit: $3,145,833; Savings: $1,204,167
2021-22 — Cap hit: $1,145,833; Savings: -$1,145,833
2022-23 — Cap hit: $1,145,833; Savings: -$1,145,833
The major downside with buying out Shattenkirk or Smith is that the 2020/21 cap hit would be large. The cap charge in that season would be $6,083,333 on Shattenkirk, and $3,145,833 on Smith. As noted previously, those amounts would be a major portion of their four-year respective totals of $10,433,332, and $6,408,332. Staal would provide a 50% savings on his 2019-20 cap hit this year, with a larger cap hit next season and trailing off, like 'Kirk and Smith the last two years of his deal. The likely candidate for a buyout is Smith, due to the savings and the net cap hit down the road. Shattenkirk helps the most this year but next season's hit is huge. Staal is a midway point and buying him out make the team more dependent on the next room to clean up enough space.
Buying out Smith was an option, but his savings would have needed to be combined with another move to create enough cap space. If Namestnikov had gone, even with some salary assumption, then Smith might have been the buyout candidate. As it stands now, Smith will likely be a rover between the blueliner and fourth line, bringing some grit and snarl to the lineup, especially to a defense that is now somewhat righty-dominant following the acquisitions of Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox.
Staal must have pictures of someone or is tremendous in the locker room, as he most certainly could have been a roster casualty. But the Rangers clearly value loyalty and his long-standing tenure. In addition, Staal will likely see second line duty on the left-side behind Brady Skjei. If you look at his advanced metrics compared to Shattenkirk, Staal was by far a much worse blueliner. Buying out Staal would have saved New York $2.8 million in salary cap space. Therefore, like Smith, buying him out would have required a second move to get New York cap compliant.
The salary cap casualty wheel therefore landed on Shattenkirk. As the NY Post noted and we have discussed, when the team added two righty-shot blueliners in Trouba and Fox, it seemed Shattenkirk’s role on the roster had been drastically diminished. Both Trouba and Fox were likely going to slot in front of Shattenkirk on the power play. Defending was never Shattenkirk’s strength. He made his name as an offensive defenseman during seven solid years with the Blues, but failed to live up to that reputation in New York, partially due to injury and partially due to poor play. New York could have also dealt Chris Kreider and his $4.625 million salary, but decided to keep him at least for the first part of the 2019-20 season.
#Rangers buying out the remaining 2 years of Shattenkirk's contract would result in 4 years of buyout cap hit broken down as follows:
Shattenkirk, a New Rochelle native, took less money to come to the Rangers in July 2017. Bur since joining the team he rooted for as a youth, it's been all downhill. His game cratered, continuing the regression we saw his last season in St. Louis and especially when he moved to Washington. With his own zone play suffering and his offense not carrying the weight to offset that decline, buying him out became the most likely outcome.
One other key factor was the pipeline of defenseman coming down the pipe.K’Andre Miller is likely a year away, as I expect to sign with the team once Wisconsin's season ends. Libor Hajek, Ryan Lindgren and Yegor Rykov are all competing for roster spots in training camp, with one, my best is on Hajek, breaking camp with the team. Nils Lundkvist, who suffered a lower-body injury for Sweden in the World Junior Summer Showcase, will need more time overseas and then down the road in Hartford, but he too is another name for the future. Ideally, if a buyout was to occur, that would have transpired next season, where the cap hit would have been lower and for a shorter term.
I understand why the move was move that doesn't mean I have to like it. This is especially so when you factor in that Shattenkirk took less to come to the Rangers and he and his wife just had his first child. In addition, I did speak with him prior to the Jam Cancer event and he was looking forward to the season after finally having a healthy off-season to train. The $6 million cap hit for next season isn't ideal, but it's a consequence of the bad deals given to Staal, Smith and ultimately based on production to date, Shattenkirk. He should draw interest in the market place, especially on a cheap deal. Maybe Pittsburgh or Winnipeg or even Tampa Bay could be a landing spot. Despite the lack of a direct fit, maybe the Isles or Devils try and sign him or could we see him down I-95 reunited with AV in Philly, though many of these teams don't have aspecific spot for him,
For all the good done the last year-plus by Gorton, he has to take the hit for those contracts and the need for this move. In addition, if the $6 mil plus the $1.4 mil in dead cap space for Dan Giradi and Ryan Spooner prevent the re-signing of Chris Kreider or inability to sign Tony DeAngelo and/or Brendan Lemieux to more than a one-year deal now, that would be another mark against Gorton.
Perhaps another way to look at #NYR's $$$: - Shattenkirk bought out - Smith, Shesterkin in AHL - Both Fox & Rykov make the squad
Leaves ~$2m cap space to sign Deangelo+Lemieux this year for a 14F/7D/2G roster
With buying out Shattenkirk, the Rangers have somewhere around $3 million in cap room, which includes burying Matt Beleskey and Smith in the AHL after passing through waivers. Look for ADA and Lemieux to sign their one-year, $874,125 qualifying offers, as little additional room remains. Presuming both deals occur at that dollar amount, New York will be tight against the cap with around $1.1 million space for call ups or other moves. For next season, signing Kreider long-term may be problematic, especially if he wants a seven-year deal around $7 million per to reach market value. But if Kappo Kakko and Kravtsov prove they are capable of playing keys, and maybe more important, don't trigger their performance bonuses, their ELC salaries might allow CK20 to return to NY, especially with the probably that Nam and Strome, former more likely than latter, are not with the team.
New York frees up Staal's, Smith's and Henrik Lundqvist's salaries after the 2020-21 season, providing lots of room to sign players. Next year will be the tough season due to the dead cap space on the books. The Rangers should look to sign a few more veterans, especially on the blue liner, for around the minimum cap hit just in case injuries hit and the kids aren't ready. Bury those players in Hartford and call them up if/when needed.