The harsh reality of Steven Stamkos on the Rangers

Stamkos (Getty)

Stamkos (Getty)

As this offseason slowly progresses, the most written about hypothetical acquisition the Rangers could make is Steven Stamkos. From beat writers to bloggers, they have all written about it in some shape or form. The problem is no one is really dealing with the harsh reality of making it happen.

WFAN’s Sean Hartnett speculated here that acquiring the elite sniper would certainly mean the losses of Keith Yandle and Rick Nash. What we need to understand is that the Rangers would need to trade Nash’s entire contract away and pick up nothing in return for this to even have a chance.

Furthermore, Hartnett speculates that should Stamkos demand to play center it could would also mean the end of either Derek Stepan or Derick Brassard. So far, you are basically looking at losing 3 stars and replacing them with 1 superstar. That’s not really the issue, it’s the one thing most seem to glance over and that is what Stamkos will be getting paid.

So What Is Stamkos Likely to Sign For?

A player like Stamkos hitting the UFA market at the age of 27 is unreal. This is arguably one of the NHL’s top 5 forwards in his prime available to the highest bidder. What we know is that he already rejected an 8 year deal worth 68 million dollars (8.5m/yr). We also know he turned it down and did not want to discuss back in January. You also need to realize that in Florida there is no State Income Tax, putting that offer closer to 10M say in NY.

The bottom line is this, Stamkos is going to get a salary of 10.5 to 12M a year for likely 6-7 years. That would put him on equal footing with the two highest paid players in the game at 10.5, Chicago’s Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Anything above would make him the highest paid player in NHL history.

Let’s for arguments sake say he decides MSG is where he wants to be for about $11M a year as the #1 center. What would the Rangers look like and can they improve?

Signing Stamkos fig1

Signing Stamkos fig1

In fig1, I have re-signed all the Rangers RFA’s and added Pavel Buchnevich to the starting lineup. This would leave the Rangers with under 2M to sign 3 more players. They need another 4th liner, a 13th forward and a 7th defenseman. Yes, you just got hit in the face with reality because it can’t be done.

Acquiring Steven Stamkos means that Brassard or Stepan have to go in order to have about 8M in cap space to sign a 3rd line center as well as what is mentioned above. All of a sudden, the Rangers are basically Stamkos, Zuccarello, Brassard, McDonagh, Lundqvist and prayers.

The Rangers would be acquiring star power at the expense of depth. Their defense will be slightly younger but not really improved after one of their more difficult seasons.  Up front, they will have one of the brightest stars in the game possibly flanked by two up and coming wingers in Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller. Not necessarily two guys that will help Stamkos win the Art Ross trophy if you know what I mean.

The bottom line here is simple, unless Stamkos comes to the Rangers for 10M or less the math doesn’t really work. If Jeff Gorton tries to force it, he could make the Rangers drastically weak after the top two lines. Should he do that, he may as well get Henrik Lundqvist to waive his clause. This will allow him to send Hank out of town where he would actually have a legit shot to win the Cup, instead of waiting the possible 2-3 years for the younger players to develop and the contracts of Dan Girardi and Marc Staal to become moveable or expire.

Sorry but sometimes reality is just a kick to the groin.