Possible lineup configurations with a month or so to before camp
The buyout of Kevin Shattenkirk may be the last big move the Rangers make this offseason. A trade of Vlad Namestnikov or possibly even Ryan Strome might occur as we get closer or into training camp and if a team needs a forward and has cap room, maybe one or the other is dealt. But in all probability the “major” moves still remaining for New York are the signings of Brendan Lemieux and Tony DeAngelo coupled with the sending through waivers to the minors of Brendan Smith and Matt Beleskey.
Using Cap Friendly's Armchair GM tool, I played around with a possible Opening Day lineup.
This configuration has Smith and Beleskey buried in the minors, clearing about $2.150 million in cap room. New York right now is cap compliant after buying out Shattenkirk, but the lineup configuration depends on which kids make the roster. If Hajek or Lindgren is the sixth or seventh d-man, the cap hit is almost the same if Smith makes the team. If Smith is sent down, $1.075 mil is freed up, meaning that $3.275 million remains on the cap. The Rangers could keep Smith on the roster, have two of Hajek, Lindgren and Fox make the team and be compliant if Beleskey is sent down and Lemieux/ADA both come in at the qualifying offer or $864,125. If one or both is higher than that, New York will still be in a crunch and have minimal flexibility during the season even if Smith passes through waivers and is sent down.
The Rangers could move Strome to second line center and shift Chytil to wing. The same with Namestnikov, especially if they attempt to maintain or create trade value for him during the season. In addition, if Strome is moved to free up additional cap space due to the lack of interest in Nam, then Namestnikov could get top-six duty, at least inintially. Ideally, to me, I would have Kakko and Kravtsov on the third line to begin the season and move them up accordingly. If that happens, look for Buch to start on the first line. Kreider could also play on the top line, but with Panarin in tow, he is better in the second line. Andersson moving to wing depends on how Howden looks and if Strome is still there or he could be the healthy scratch with Nam or maybe Boo Nieves or Greg McKegg or Phil Di Giuseppe in the lineup.
On the blue line, Skjei and Trouba, who were on the NTDP in 2012 and have a buddy-buddy relationship, will be paired, then it gets interesting. ADA will probably begin the season on the second line, weighted down by Staal. But New York could have him okay with more of a defensively minded player like Lindgren or maybe Hajek, though Staal likely starts the year with ADA. We presume Fox breaks camp with the team. Lindgren to me could be the perfect pair mate for him, reuniting a Team USA duo with four of the top-six then from the red, white and blue, with Hajek a long shot. If Smith does break camp, he could slot on the second or third line, depending on what New York decides to do with Fox after training camp.
Let me know how you would configure the lines as the team is currently constituted.
DeAngelo and Lemieux are both RFA’s without arbitration eligibility. Each have received qualifying offers for $864.125 for New York. Their options are to sign and accept the QO, hold out or hope for an offer. That means the Rangers are in complete control and they could either sign or hold out. My preference would be a two-year deal, which would save money in the back end of the deal since if each plays well, the cost for New York next season will be much higher than what it would run now. To me, get each for $1.5 mil or so for two years, if possible, though based on the available cap room, even with Smith buried in the minors, even that type of deal may not be feasible.
For all the talk of offer sheets, the only one we have seen was by Montreal to Sebastian Aho, which was matched by Carolina. Braydon Point reportedly turned down two offer sheets, as he wants to remain with Tampa. If a team did offer sheet ADA or Lemieux at just under the $2.113,476 mark or anywhere above that, New York would not be likely to match due to the lack of cap space. Getting a third round pick for either is some value but not substantive especially when compared to what either player provides the team this year and potentially in the future.
RFA Draft pick Compensation:
$1,395,053 or below: None
$1,395,054-$2,113,716: Third round pick
$2,113,717-$4,227,437: Second round pick
$4,227,438-$6,341,152: 1st and 3rd round picks
$6,341,153-$8,454,871: 1st, 2nd and 3rd round picks
$8,454,872-$10,568,589: 2 first round picks a 2nd and a 3rd
Over $10,568,590+: 4 first round picks