Back To Reality; Moves That Could Happen And Some That Won’t

Fans of teams, especially Ranger fans, wear so much passion on their sleeves, there is some left over for their pockets. After a very disappointing loss to Ottawa in round 2 of the playoffs, fans took to social media to run certain players and a coach out of town. It doesn’t work that way. There are a myriad of reasons players(or coaches) will not get wished away, or simply bought out.

AV (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

The Coach

Let’s start with the coach, Alain Vigneault. Many fans are down on him and think it’s time for a change. I have always been a supporter of him and his success in developing good young players.

Sure, he made mistakes in these playoffs. Such as, the deployment of certain defensemen over others, and the matchups that they created was a big issue. He was too reliant on a struggling Marc Staal (that’s me being kind). The club blew 3 leads in 12 games in the last 2 minutes. Most of that blame lies on the players on ice. But, strategically the coach should have done something after it happened once, let alone twice.

You can also make the point that in their last game he could have gotten them more fired up. And does this management value grit and sandpaper enough? Why is Tanner Glass in Hartford all year, then vital in the playoffs? All that said, the coach isn’t going anywhere.

Bottom line: He was extended 2 years back in January. So that is it. End of story. A team looks really bad if it hands out a big money extension at the end of January and 4 months later, changes their mind. And believe me, upper management doesn’t agree with those fans with the pitchforks anyway. They absolutely will change personnel before they fire the coach, at this point. I do expect some big changes in the roster.

Hank doing what he does best (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)


The Goaltender

Next on the list is goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. The King was out of this world against Montreal. He was very good for the most part against Ottawa, But he didn’t steal the series. If he played as well against the Sens as he did against the Habs he would have stolen it. He was not the reason they lost and the funny thing is the “fans” that want to run him out of town, are also trying to run Staal, Klein, Girardi and Holden out. So, if the defensemen are all bad, it’s also the goalie’s fault? Sure it is (sarcasm).
Lundqvist has an 8.5 million dollar cap hit. That is too much. That’s on Glen Sather, not Lundqvist. Quite simply, they misread the market. Now, there are some really naive people that think Hank should waive his no movement clause and go elsewhere. Number one, what contender has that kind of cap space and a need for a top goalie? Number two, why would he? He earned that perk. That perk costs money. If he didn’t have that perk, the Rangers would have been paying him more money and a higher cap hit each year.

Fact: a no movement clause has monetary value in all contracts. I am a union man. There is no way, if i am him, i waive that, and uproot my family after my agent got that perk in my contract, because some yahoo fans think he should move on. So let’s just be a little realistic and assume he will be here. For at least two more years.

WAIT, he has FOUR more years left! That is true, he has 4 years left, but the current CBA has an opt out, by either side, in 2019. On September 1, 2019 the NHL can opt out. If the NHL does not exercise their opt out, the NHLPA can opt out on September 19, 2019. What are the odds that both sides will not opt out? I say, very slim.

Especially if the NHL does not go to the Olympics in Feb. 2018. Their is a ton of animosity on both sides that will be ratcheted up over an Olympic snub. If there is an opt out, and eventually a new CBA, there is always an amnesty buy out for each team. After the last CBA Brad Richards was amnestied. The one previous, the Rangers amnestied Wade Redden.

My guess is in 2 years there will be a lockout or strike, eventually a new cba, and a player amnesty the Rangers would exercise on Lundqvist. Now, because the opt out happens in September, it could be too late to replace him and they may have to wait one more year. On the flip side, the Rangers top goalie prospect Igor Shestyorkin’s contract runs out in, wait for it, 2 years. He is a free agent in the spring of 2019. Wonder if his agent was looking ahead?

The Defensemen

Let’s pick off the easy ones. Kevin Klein is gone. He will be easy to trade since he is better than a lot of 5th or 6th defensemen. The teams will be losing defensemen in the expansion draft, so there will be teams in need.

Nick Holden? His cap hit is 1.65 million. My guess is because he doesn’t make much he stays as a 6th defenseman. He is in the last year of his contract and if he wants to triple his salary, the Rangers may get a more consistent and the best Nick Holden that he can be.

Dan Girardi can be dealt to 15 teams that he approves of. My guess is that Jeff Gorton finds a way to move him. Girardi at least repaired his game this past year. His contract was front loaded, which makes it slightly more desirable.
Marc Staal is another popular guy to run out of town. He had a poor playoff season. He has 4 more years left at a cap hit of 5.7 million cap hit. He has a no movement clause for one more year. After this coming season, he only has a modified no trade clause, like Dan Girardi. The time to move him is next year. A buyout is a terrible plan. There will be 8 years of dead cap space, which Jeff Gorton is not going to saddle himself with. It’s unlikely that Staal would waive his NMC. Maybe, Gorton sells him on playing with brother Jordan in Carolina? Don’t get any hopes up if your thinking is “Staal has to go!”


Nash uses his power to create opportunities. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Forwards

Will Rick Nash play out the last year of his contract as a Ranger? This one isn’t easy. Nash is extremely highly regarded by Ranger management and his fellow players. He does not put up 7.8 million dollar cap hit numbers. He is still their best two way player. Having one year left would make him easier to deal, but it would depend on the teams he would accept a trade to.

Derek Stepan is a bit more intriguing. He isn’t a great skater. He has never had a great playoff year. He has a 6.5 mil cap hit. He scores like a 5 million dollar per player. And that is the big problem right there, This summer is the last summer he can be traded without any no trade language interfering. In some folks minds, that makes it imperative to trade him. On the other hand, it would leave the Rangers very vulnerable down the middle.

Kevin Hayes didn’t put a puck into a net (also known as a goal) in his last 23 games. Do you want to rely on him for more minutes? They would need to procure another center either in a potential Stepan deal, or in a different trade. Colorado seems to want to deal Matt Duchene for young defensemen, so that probably leaves that idea out. My guess is that Nash stays, but Stepan moves. A team like Arizona would trade picks and/or prospects for a guy under control for years that could play against number one lines and allow their younger centers a chance to grow.
Either way, there will be a lot of change this June in the NHL. I am quite sure we will see the most change in the Ranger roster in years.

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