Contract stalemates may head into training camp for DeAngelo and Lemieux

Lemieux (Sipkin/NYPost)

Tony DeAngelo and Brendan Lemieux are the Rangers remaining unsigned RFA’s. Neither has any arbitration rights but claiming they have no leverage because of that is erroneous. In truth, both are not dealing from a position of strength, but they can make one play that neither side wants… a hold out.

What We Know

  1. The Rangers sent qualifying offers to both RFA’s
  2. Tony DeAngelo liked a tweet (since removed) stating he wouldn’t play for $1M (basically his qualifying offer)
  3. Claude Lemieux (Brendan’s dad and agent) told Forever Blueshirts that both sides have spoken but are not close to a deal
  4. A source close to the situation said all parties would like to work out at least 2 year bridge deals

This Could Take Awhile

It doesn’t take an insider to know that no one wants a hold out. That goes for the players themselves and the Rangers. John Davidson would love to have his business settled before camp opens so that David Quinn in a crucial year can make the best lineup decisions possible.

Still both these RFA’s bring things to the table the Rangers can’t replace easily. For Lemieux, the Rangers don’t have a gritty skilled forward that can be effective on a 3rd or 4th line for 10 minutes a night playing the role of agitator/enforcer. His presence on the ice will draw attention from the opposition’s agitators and make rookies like Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov’s lives easier.

As for DeAngelo, aside from his impressive season of 4 goals and 30 points in 61 games, he is just the 3rd right handed defenseman on the roster after the buyout of Kevin Shattenkirk. A quick look at lineup and prospect pools shows no one is really ready to jump in and play that spot this season, aside from maybe Joey Keane. That is why it should come as no surprise to anyone if they decide to hold out. It is simple, if I can easily identify these advantages you can be sure both the players and their agents have as well.

Need a Little More Cap Space

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Some believe that because these players are in no position to negotiate, they should just sign their qualifying offers (which are both only 1 year deals with a marginal raise). Well if they really felt that why, then explain to me why they haven’t?

The Rangers as you read this are probably still trying to move the following players in a trade; Brendan Smith, Vlad Naestnikov, or Ryan Strome. Even if they can move Smith or Namestnikov with salary retention, that should give them enough room to make the 2 year deals with both RFA’s.

Should they pick up more cap space, I can see a 2 year deal for Lemieux around the $1.5M mark. For DeAngelo we are likely in the range of $2-2.5M in order to get him to sign. That comes out to about $2M more than their current qualify offers total.

Training camps will be upon us soon. If Jeff Gorton can make a trade before then, I expect to see both RFA’s there. Should no deals be made, these two may go past training camp and into the regular season before signing anything.