An in-depth look at the Rangers salary cap purgatory this coming summer

Gorton (MICHAEL DWYER/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Gorton (MICHAEL DWYER/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Cap purgatory can be a very dark and depressing place. Bad contracts being carried by dead weight players can cripple a team for years. New York Rangers General Manager, Jeff Gorton and crew have their work cut out for them this summer.

In an interview with Dan Rosen back in December, Gary Bettman said the projected salary cap for the 2016-2017 season could go up as high as $3 million. And I emphasize COULD. “We gave them a very, very, very rough projection on what the cap could conceivably be next season, which will be somewhere between where it is now and up $3 million, in that range,” Commissioner Bettman said. “That will depend on a variety of factors.”  (The salary cap for this current season is $71.4 million.)

According to Spotrac, the NYR have a total cap hit of $54,150,000 for next season on the books.

Using this season’s current cap number, the NYR have $17,250,000 in cap space. That includes 1G, 4D, and 7F but does not take into consideration the salaries of impending Restricted Free Agents (RFA) Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, J.T. Miller, and Dylan McIlrath.

So, how does Jeff Gorton create more room for Keith Yandle and give raises to RFA’s Kreider, Hayes, Miller, and McIlrath?

Trades.

While this past trade deadline did not provide the type of excitement the fans were looking for, this upcoming offseason looks to be a busy one for NHL front offices.

With regard to the lack of trading at the deadline, Peter Chiarelli told Derek Van Diest of NHL.com, “There is a lot of discussions that take place not necessarily for the deadline, but for the summer and the fall,” he said. “You really exchange ideas and exchange thoughts where your team is going, you talk about certain scenarios.”

Rick Nash - (Getty)

Rick Nash – (Getty)

Here are possible trade candidates and their 2016-2017 cap hit:

  1. Rick Nash – $7,800,000 (No Trade)
  2. Marc Staal – $5,700,000 (No Movement)
  3. Dan Girardi – $5,500,000 (No Movement)
  4. Tanner Glass – $1,450,000

Although difficult, moves can be made and cap space can be cleared. However, with the handcuffs of those clauses the retention of keeping both Eric Staal and Keith Yandle are highly unlikely without moving other rostered players. The same can be said for our RFA’s. Keeping all four are unlikely without moving one or two of the larger contracts over 4M on the roster today.

With Pavel Buchnevich possibly coming over, top prospect Brady Skeji knocking down the door, and Marek Hrivik showing he can handle a 4th line role, there are lower tiered salary players who can step in and play right away.

There will be plenty of time for speculation but for now, enjoy the ride into the summer.

Who’s Under Contract For Next Season

NYR Under Contract 2016/17 (Sportrac)

NYR Under Contract 2016/17 (Sportrac)

That is a deficit of 6 forwards (1 extra), 3 defenseman (1 extra) and 1 goalie. With the current cap (71.4M) that would leave an average of 1.725M per player. If the cap comes in less than that, well let’s just say 17M to sign 10 players wasn’t very good to begin with.