Buyouts make little sense for the Rangers right now
The Rangers are obviously ready and able to explore all avenues to improve the team that make sense. Armed with 2 first round picks in this draft, including the golden ticket that will land them either Kaapo Kakko or Jack Hughes, the Blueshirts can really have an amazing offseason.
Today, Larry Brooks and Rick Carpiniello released some great articles with regards to the Rangers offseason plans. They discussed everything from drafting, trades and buyouts. While the final option is possible it is unlikely to happen when the first buyout window opens this weekend.
“In all honesty, we haven’t ruled it out,” general manager Jeff Gorton told The Post on Tuesday when asked if the club intends to go that route. “It’s on the table. And regardless of what we do with this buyout window, we’d certainly look at the second one, too, depending on what comes up over the next few weeks. A lot can happen.”Larry Brooks
Diving into that statement by Jeff Gorton, I can read in between the lines that the Rangers truly don’t see the financial sense in buying out either Brendan Smith, Marc Staal, or Kevin Shattenkirk. In truth, it makes zero sense to buyout Shattenkirk or to a lesser degree Marc Staal in any circumstance.
On the other hand, Brendan Smith makes a degree of sense, but not at the moment. Heading into next season, the Rangers have a hit of $900,000 because they retained some of Ryan Spooner’s contract in the Strome deal. They also have a cap penalty of $3.6M for buying out Dan Girardi and will have a $1.1M hit until 2023 for that move. So in total, the Rangers already have $4.5M in dead cap space to deal with next year.
Where They Are, Where They’re Going
The Rangers are focused on the draft, and rightfully so. In preparation for the draft, they are also exploring trades in order to possibly move up in the first round from the 20th slot. As a byproduct they’d like to create cap space for the pursuit of UFA’s and if you believe Rick Carpiniello, an offer sheet to Brayden Point. However, there doesn’t appear to be any interest in their veterans on the trade market.
The Rangers have found essentially no interest in Smith or Shattenkirk on the trade market, even with a 50% contract retention. It is possible the Blueshirts could move Shattenkirk in return for taking on an odious contract, but it doesn’t seem likely they would go that route.Larry Brooks
While at this moment there may be no one biting on Smith or Shattenkirk, that can change once the draft passes and teams miss out on the likes of Erik Karlsson in free agency. Still, the Rangers would not need to buyout anyone if they also don’t land a major UFA in July.
As they sit now, the Rangers have a little over $19M in cap space with 4 RFA’s they must sign. Once Buchnevich, Lemieux, Pionk, and DeAngelo get paid, you can expect around $9M to play with. That isn’t going to land Artemi Panarin in NY. That’s why trades will need to happen to free up some space and room on the roster for not only Panarin but Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov.
When Will A Buyout Make Sense
Things become very interesting if the Rangers can also land Jacob Trouba in a trade. If they do acquire him, you can expect them to sign him to a long term deal starting at least around $7M per. If they can’t shed enough salary in trades, they will then be forced into a buyout of Smith which will give them an additional $3M of space this summer. Even then, it wouldn’t be enough to do both Trouba and Panarin.
Still Jeff Gorton will be in no rush to use a buyout as they can go 10% over the cap. Should the Rangers not be able to make enough room in trades, they can explore buying out Smith or even possibly Shattenkirk during the 2nd window.
Ultimately a buyout of Smith will give them an additional $3.3M or in Shattenkirk’s case $5.1 if needed this summer. However, the cap penalties will be felt for 3 years after. Should the Rangers not make more than one big move, then buying out Brendan Smith next summer makes the most sense. At that point they will save $1.5M in cap space, but only have a 1 year cap penalty at just $700K.
I firmly believed the Rangers would buyout Smith as soon as the opportunity arose. However, after taking a deep dive on the Rangers cap situation it doesn’t appear it will happen. If the Rangers are successful in signing Panarin and trading for Trouba, it may be a whole new game when the 2nd window comes around.