Jeff Skinner’s contract signals expensive free agency season for Rangers and the League

John Davidson (NYR website)

The Buffalo Sabres prevented 40 goal scorer Jeff Skinner from hitting unrestricted free agency this summer. It cost them a total of $72 million to do so.

So What Does This Mean to the Free Agent Market?

Skinner’s deal means that Artemi Panarin’s contract is going to start at least around the 10.5 to 11M dollar mark and get no less than the maximum 7 years he can sign for per the CBA. Skinner was able to sign for the 8 year maximum because Buffalo acquired him on his Entry Level Contract.

It also means that any of the big RFA’s out there looking to sign long term like Patrick Laine and Mitch Marner are going to command at least $10 million and 8 years. In essence, this is shaping up to be a very expensive Free Agency season for anyone who wants to be a player in this market.

Are the Rangers Players This Summer

The answer is yes. That doesn’t mean they will get into a bidding war over Artemi Panarin and pay him $15 million a year for the next 7 years. Or that they will acquiesce to Karlsson’s desire for 7 years at $11M per. John Davidson is not going to rush this team or expedite the process in the short term to hurt them in the long run.

It is possible that if the Rangers can’t reach an agreement to land a Panarin or Karlsson at a contract they are comfortable with they may go a different route. One player that could be of interest to the team is Wayne Simmonds.

The Rangers and the Free Agent Market

The market on Erik Karlsson has cooled tremendously since last year. The belief that Karlsson’s negotiations would start no lower than the $11 million mark at 7 years seems out of scope now. It is possible that a more reasonable number in either salary or years could be achieved for an All-Star #1 defenseman. Should Karlsson lessen his demands, the Rangers would certainly consider him.

Another star player of interest is Matt Duchene, whose numbers are fairly comparable to Skinner’s this past season. Duchene could be had for about $10M per for 7 years. Of course, that will take him to the age of 35 and likely have teams balk. If Duchene would be amicable to a 5 year deal, he would get that money easily.

Back to Simmonds. The 30 year old UFA is coming off a deal with an AAV of $3.975M. He scored 17 goals and 30 points in a difficult year between the Flyers and Predators. Simmonds checks a lot of boxes for the Rangers heading into next season. He can score, averaging over 25 goals in the last 5 years and he brings an element of size and toughness the Rangers could use with such a young lineup.

Simmonds is also going to cost a lot less on the market with all these big name UFA’s and RFA’s out there. A 3 year deal at around $5-6M would make a lot of sense for John Davidson’s Blueshirts.

Featured Image: James McCoy/Buffalo News

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