3 worst Rangers contracts ahead of 2024-25 NHL season

NHL: New York Rangers at Calgary Flames
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The NHL recently announced that the salary cap will increase to $88 million next season. That leaves the New York Rangers with $12.45 million in projected cap space going into this offseason.

So, the Rangers have the 11th least amount of salary cap space heading into this summer when they’d like to add top-six forward on the right side and possibly a defenseman. Plus the Rangers have three restricted free agents to re-sign, with Ryan Lindgren due the largest raise from his $3 million average annual value.

Recently we did a list of the five best Rangers contracts going into the 2024-25 season. Now it’s time to take a look at the other side of the spectrum.

While the Rangers have some flexibility, there are a few contracts on the books that are more unsightly than others.

Related: Why Zac Jones is an answer on defense for Rangers next season

3 worst Rangers contracts ahead of 2024-25 season

3. Barclay Goodrow — $3.6 million AAV, 3 years left

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Florida Panthers at New York Rangers
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Barclay Goodrow is coming off his worst regular season since signing with the Rangers before 2021-22, posting 12 points in 80 games, the third-lowest mark of his NHL career and lowest points-per-game pace in his 10 seasons as a pro.

The two-time Stanley Cup champion did come through big time in the postseason, scoring six goals in 16 games after notching just four during the regular season. His overtime game-winner in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Florida Panthers was one of the most memorable moments this postseason.

The scoring is nice but that’s not Goodrow’s most important value with the Rangers.

Goodrow is a fourth-liner who plays important penalty kill minutes and is a go-to checking center. It’s a crucial role on the team, but perhaps not one worth the salary and years committed. Compare Goodrow’s cap hit to that of Jimmy Vesey, who plays a similar role (with more offensive upside but two fewer Stanley Cup rings) at a much cheaper price of $800,000.

Goodrow’s 12:34 ATOI this season was the lowest of his three seasons in New York by a significant margin, only trumping Vesey, Will Cuylle, Jonny Brodzinski, and Matt Rempe among players in the regular rotation.

It’s probably not a contract Drury will be actively trying, or able, to move, particularly coming off another strong postseason when Goodrow was a bright spot amidst some struggling star performances. Still, it’s more length and term than you’d prefer for a fourth-line forward.

2. Mika Zibanejad — $8.5 million AAV, 6 years left

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Florida Panthers at New York Rangers
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Mika Zibanejad’s eight-year, $68 million contract extension seemed like a no-brainer when he signed it in October of 2021, two seasons after scoring 41 goals and 75 points in just 57 games. He followed with 81 points in 81 games in 2021-22, the final season of his contract and then had a massive 39-goal, 91-point season in 2022-23, the first of his current contract.

But with a downturn to 72 points this season and another uneven playoff performance, his contract doesn’t feel as great as it did when he signed it.

The 31-year-old is the Rangers No. 1 center and is counted on in every game situation, offensively and defensively. But he hasn’t necessarily cemented himself as a Top 10 center in the NHL the way the Rangers might’ve expected.

This season was by no means an atrocious one as he finished fifth on the Rangers in points and fourth in goals (26), but Zibanejad struggled to produce consistently, particularly at even strength.

These problems were exacerbated in the postseason. After a red hot start with 13 points in his first eight games, Zibanejad mustered just three points in the final eight games and was held without a goal for the final 11 games.

In a six-game series loss to the Panthers in the conference final, Zibanejad was held to two points, both of which came in a Game 5 loss, completely neutralized by Selke Trophy-winner Aleksander Barkov.

There’s no denying that Zibanejad is a talented two-way forward and an important part of getting the Rangers to the postseason. However, it’s yet to be determined if he’s a strong enough top center to lead the Blueshirts to a Stanley Cup championship.

That’s a big question to have about a player who makes $8.5 million until 2030 with a no-movement clause.

1. Jacob Trouba — $8 million AAV, 2 years left

NHL: New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jacob Trouba is coming off a tough regular season, and an even rougher postseason.

The Rangers captain and recipient of the 2024 Mark Messier Leadership Award has long been the source of fans’ ire due to his seven-year, $56 million extension following a trade with the Winnipeg Jets.

Despite his leadership on and off the ice, and physicality and experience he brings to the lineup, it’s tough to argue that he’s living up to his hefty $8 million AAV.

Trouba’s coming off a season where he ranked in the sixth percentile overall (per Evolving Hockey), easily the worst of the Rangers’ defensive corps. After a solid start to the season, Trouba’s play declined, and an ankle injury in March only aggravated the issue.

Playing to a munus-2 in the Eastern Conference Final against Florida and making a crucial mistake that led to Sam Bennett’s goal in the deciding Game 6, Trouba had a difficult time against the Panthers relentless offensive attack and drew some controversy for a questionable elbow on Evan Rodrigues in Game 3.

Though he had some positive postseason moments, like that shorthanded goal in the second round against the Carolina Hurricanes and leading the team with 72 blocked shots, and can never have his effort questioned, Trouba took untimely and, at times, undisciplined penalties, leading New York with 11 minors and 22 penalty minutes in 16 playoff games.

Buying out Trouba would mean $4 million in dead cap over the next two seasons and then $2 million in the subsequent two years after that. With two years left on the deal, the high cap hit will scare away most trade suitors and a 15-team no trade clause for next season further complicates matters. To put it simply, it’s a difficult contract to move for next season.

Trouba’s large salary makes it difficult to make major adds to a team that has failed to reach the Stanley Cup Final since 2014 and does not fit his likely role next season, that of a third-pair defenseman.

Lou Orlando has spent the past two seasons as a New York Rangers beat reporter for WFUV Sports. The... More about Lou Orlando

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