Forecasting what the Rangers will do with their UFAs this season

The NYR are 4-1-1 in their last six games. They are playing much better hockey over the course of that time, but have gotten great goaltending from both netminders in Alexander Georgiev, and of course, Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist was fantastic in both games of a back-to-back against the Red Wings and Hurricanes, Thursday night against the Canes, the some will tell you the Rangers had no business winning that game, but Lundqvist kept them in it with what was one of his top-25 greatest performances of all time in my opinion.

While all is great right now in Rangerstown, as well as in Hartford, the Rangers are going to have some extremely difficult decisions to make over the next seven months or so. In this post we’re going to look at the pending RFAs, UFAs, and possible upcoming prospects for the club and how the Rangers are going to handle them.

The Cap and Future

The Rangers decided to buyout Kevin Shattenkirk last summer likely due to the fact of their confidence in rookie Adam Fox. The move, even though many disliked it, was the right one, because Fox has been excellent from day one, and may even be the team’s best defender. The biggest issue with the buyout of Shattenkirk was the dead cap hit that the team would suffer in the 2020-2021 season. The buyout puts $6.083 million of dead cap on the books, on top of Girardi’s $1.111 million of dead cap, and Spooner’s $300,000. After all is said and done, the Rangers will have a touch over $14 million in cap come the summer of 2020 ($14,777,701 to be exact as of right now), with a lot of decisions to make.

The list of players that are due for contracts next summer are as follows:
UFA – Chris Kreider, Jesper Fast, Greg McKegg, Micheal Haley
RFA – Brendan Lemieux, Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, Alexander Georgiev

UFAs:

Micheal Haley – Many did not understand the move of signing Haley to the club this year. Haley has played very few games for the big club, and will continue to be the Rangers 13/14th forward. I do not expect the Rangers to give Haley another contract next summer.

Decision – Gone this season.

Greg McKegg – McKegg is a very interesting case. When in the lineup and playing on the 4th line, McKegg has been pretty noticeable. He notched his first goal of the season the other night against the Red Wings, and as mentioned before, has been a good 4th line player for the club when he has suited up. I would like to see the Rangers give McKegg a similar deal to what he has now (1 year – $750,000), but I am not sure how much money they can spare on a guy that is a 4th liner/13th forward.

Decision – Another 1 year deal.

Jesper Fast – A few summers ago, Fast signed a 3 year deal carrying an AAV of $1.85 million. Fast, while he has had ups and downs in his career as everyone does, gives the Rangers 110% night in and night out. He is so versatile, and can play up and down the lineup. Fast wears an A, and that tells you a lot about how the organization feels about the 27 year old Swede. No, he is not a guy who is gonna give you 70 points (or even 40 for that matter), but he is a guy that does everything for this team, and as we have seen over the years, play anywhere. I personally am a big fan of Fast, and I do believe this is something that gets done. I think Fast will sign a similar deal to his previous one with a bit of a pay raise, something in the 3-4 year range, carrying an AAV of $3-4 million.

Decision – New contract this summer.

*Side Note – I do believe Fast is someone that is very likely to be going to Seattle when the expansion draft rolls around, but we will save that for another day*

Chris Kreider – Kreider is by far the biggest question mark amongst the pending UFAs for the Rangers. He is a homegrown Ranger, who has become a fan favorite over the years. He is a leader in the locker room, wears an A, and as we all know, speaks a plethora of different languages which helps benefit a young team compiled of many different cultures.

Kreider’s game has been as up and down as any Ranger we have seen over the last 5+ years. When he is on his A game, Kreider is literally a machine; skating as quick as anyone in the game, using his body to get to the net, and winning pucks in the corners to help set up his teammates. When Kreider is off his game, he is essentially invisible (which is pretty difficult for a player of that size, with that kind of speed). When the clock hits 12:01 AM on July 1, 2020, Kreider will be 29 years old. From what we presume, Kreider will likely fetch a 7 year deal, carrying an AAV of around $7 million, whether it’s from the Rangers, or on the open market on July 1.

It may not be what people want to hear, but I do not believe the Rangers extend Kreider, and I think he is moved at the February deadline. The Blues, who are currently without Russian sniper Vlad Tarasenko, would be a great fit for Kreider. Kreider will yield a similar package to that of Rick Nash, and Kevin Hayes – a (what will be late) first round pick, and a B-level prospect.

Decision – Traded.

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