CAPtastrophe: Rangers with even less wiggle room than expected

The NYR are facing even bigger offseason problems.

The NYR are facing even bigger offseason problems.

The salary cap was expected to come in at 74M for next season, now we learn per Larry Brooks it will be 72.8M. This is just a 1.4M bump from this year’s cap ceiling and almost 3M less than many teams had hoped for.

This is of course if the NHLPA triggers the 5% escalator or else it drops to 69.3M! Brooks’ expects the Player’s Association to do so in order for teams to have more money to spend on free agents.

Another nightmare for the Rangers was revealed by Brooks as well.

[su_quote cite=”Larry Brooks, NYPOST” url=”https://nypost.com/2016/06/04/how-nhls-mad-parity-quest-hurts-players-wallets-ambitious-teams/”]Second, Slap Shots has learned that rules for the 2017 expansion draft that will precede Las Vegas’ anticipated 2017-18 admission to the league as its 31st franchise (“Done deal,” we’re told), will compel teams to protect players with no-move clauses even if they or the contracts themselves expire at the end of 2016-17. This means if the expansion draft is held, say, on June 21, 2017, teams will be obligated to protect players who, a) would become unrestricted free agents 10 days later; or, b) would be able to be waived or traded 10 days later.[/su_quote]

So what does this all mean for the Rangers? It basically forces their hand on moving salary. This is probably one of the reasons why Rick Nash‘s name has been smacked around like a tennis ball by all the hockey insiders since the Rangers were eliminated.

Girardi smash (Photo Credit: David Pokress)

Girardi smash (Photo Credit: David Pokress)

When most of us played armchair GM after the season ended, we were going off the 74M cap. That meant the Rangers would have almost 18M dollars to try and re-sign their 4 RFA’s, add Buchnevich to the team and fill out a 4th liner, 13th forward and 7th defenseman. That was filling out the minimum roster possible (22), but now they have just $15,325,000 in cap space to work with. That feeling in your gut right now, I have it too, it’s called disgust.

Jeff Gorton is now under the gun to make something happen here and he needs to be creative. On top of that, he needs to be downright ice cold and force Dan Girardi and possibly Marc Staal out the door this summer. He can do so by telling them it will be best for the franchise, and if they waive their clause now, he will do his best to get them where they want to be.

Bottom line: if the Rangers can’t move big salary, they will be forced to trade players like Kreider, Miller, Hayes, and/or McIlrath for the likes of the Emerson Etem‘s of the NHL again. I’m literally shuddering even thinking about it.

Should they refuse and force him to protect them at the expense of younger players during the expansion draft, he could make their departure less amicable. The harsh reality is this, Jeff Gorton’s legacy as Rangers GM is all ready at a cliff’s edge and with Carl Hagelin playing for the Stanley Cup, it won’t take much more for him to go over.

This is it folks. Now it that the cap ceiling is even less than hoped, the margin for error is even less. If you weren’t overly concerned before, start worrying. If you were worried, by all means hit that big red NYR panic button.

NYR PANIC BUTTON

 

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at YardBarker, and MSN. Features have been linked on Sportsnet, NBC, TFP, NY POST, NEWSDAY and more.