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How does the potential rise in the salary cap impacts the Rangers?

December 5, 2018, 7:01 AM ET [132 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers got some of their walking wounded back at practice today. Mats Zuccarello, who has missed 11 of 13 games, Pavel Buchnevich, out since Nov. 10 with a broken thumb, Vladislav Namestnikov, sidelined the last three games with a concussion, and Adam McQuaid, injured on Oct. 25 and out since with a lower-body injury, all practiced Tuesday and all are possible for the FLA-TB trip this weekend. In this blog, I will cover the impact of the potential rise in the cap from $79.5 million this season to $83 mil next season.

Coach David Quinn following practice :

2019-20 salary cap:

As of December 4, the Rangers have 15 players under contract for next season. Of the 10 forwards, Mike Zibanejad is signed through 2021-22, Lias Andersson, Filip Chytil and Brett Howden are all in year one of their entry level contracts, while Chris Kreider, Vladislav Namestnikov, Ryan Strome, Jimmy Vesey, Jesper Fast and Matt Beleskey are all signed through next season. Those forwards comprise about $25.75 million of the cap space utilized.

On defense, Kevin Shattenkirk, Marc Staal and Brendan Smith are all signed through next season. Brady Skjei is signed through 2023-24. Those four players comprise $21.95 million of cap room. Henrik Lundqvist is signed through 2020-21 at $8.5 million while Aleksandar Georgiev is signed through next season for $792K. The totals of all the players under contract is $56,992,500. Add in the $3,611,111 in dead cap space for the buyout of Dan Girardi - a figure that drops to $1,111,111 for the following three seasons - and the 900K that New York is paying towards Ryan Spooner's contract and the total cap utilization is $61.5 million. A salary cap of $83 million would leave the Rangers with around $21.5 million in cap space.

Kevin Hayes, Mats Zuccarello, Dustin Tokarski, Adam McQuaid and Cody McLeod are all slated to be UFAs. Of that list, maybe Hayes returns as well as possibly Tokarski if cheap, since signing him might allow him to be protected for the expansion draft down the road, while Zucc is a very outside shot at being back. But New York can just wait and sign someone after the season or during 2020-21. Hayes is the cause celebre for several of the fan base and his topic is a fairly polarizing one.

Following this season the Rangers will have Pavel Buchnevich, Steven Fogarty, Vinni Lettieri, Boo Nieves, Freddy Claesson, Tony DeAngelo and Neal Pionk as RFAs with arbitration rights. Of that list, Buch and Pionk are the two most likely to be signed long-term, though New York could elect to use bridge deals, with ADA or possibly Claesson third on the list. All three current make $2.71 million, add about 200% to that total, so around $8-8.5 million, and that's a reasonable guesstimate as to what the three should make, especially if not all three receive bridge deals.

Presuming Hayes is not back, because if he is, at least one larger salary would probably need to be moved to sign a big-name unrestricted free agent. (I have already given you my view on if I want Hayes to be back, so no need to rehash that again). My rationale for that is based upon what it will cost to re-sign all the team's RFAs and still leave anywhere from 10-12 million in free agency. The larger name potential UFAs from around the NHL include Artemi Panarin, Mark Stone, Jeff Skinner, Joe Pavelski, Anders Lee, Matt Duchene, Wayne Simmonds, Jordan Eberle, Gustav Nyqvist and Erik Karlsson. Beyond Karlsson, there are a few mildly intriguing names on the blue line, but none that will immediately pique your interest.

Panarin has been rumored for months to be on the Rangers' radar and the feeling is reportedly mutual. He is slated to meet with Columbus in the coming weeks. The possibility exists that he re-ups with the Blue Jackets, though he is likely to become a UFA. Stone is a pretty good second option. While he isn't the pure scorer of playmaker that Panarin in, Stone is an extremely consistent right winger who plays a bit more of a physical game.

Skinner is rumored to want in the $10-12 million range. Buffalo will do everything they can to keep him in upstate New York and since he is from Toronto, the Maple Leafs would love to sign Skinner, But with William Nylander now inked and Mitch Marner plus Auston Matthews to be signed and defensive help also a priority, only so much cap room exists. Pavelski should stay on San Jose while the Isles are likely to lock up Lee, their captain, though Eberle is probable to explore free agency. Duchene is also probable to explore free agency while Nyqvist has been plagued by inconsistency in his career, but appears to have found his found this season.

Karlsson is the big fish on the blue line. Think Drew Doughty type money for the 29-year defenseman who will want a seven year deal. After EK65, Jake Gardiner and Tyler Myers may be the two biggest names on the free agent market. That's what makes the market for Karlsson likely to extremely robust. i think a forward will be target #1 and Karlsson a secondary option, unless New York frees up cap room by moving a few players.

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