New York Rangers need to make tough cap decisions soon

The New York Rangers don’t have enough cap space to make any emergency call up of a player making the league minimum of $750,000.

Not without placing a player on LTIR, which requires them to be out a minimum of 10 games and 24 days, in order to get cap relief. While a player can go on regular IR and must miss a minimum of 7 days, that only allows a team to exceed the 23 max roster limit with no cap relief. It should also be noted you can place a player on LTIR retroactively.

That’s probably why the Rangers were reluctant to place Filip Chytil on LTIR after he suffered a concussion against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 23. By rule, he’d still be out, with tomorrow’s contest against the Seattle Kraken being his first eligible game to return.

The Rangers will also want to have more cap space open as it will impact them at the trade deadline. For every $1 million in cap space accrued, it’s equivalent to around $4.5 million in player salary they can take on.

New York Rangers cap decisions

As of today, the New York Rangers are at their max roster space of 23 after calling up Julien Gauthier earlier in the season.

That gives the team 14 forwards, 7 defenseman, and 2 goalies. Should the Rangers take two minor injuries on defense, a forward would either need to drop back or they’d be forced into a trade or place someone on waivers.

So which forward would the Rangers risk losing on the waiver wire? At this time, I don’t see Julien Gauthier or Jimmy Vesey as anyone Gerard Gallant would not consider playing. Vitali Kravtsov is no longer waivers exempt and would definitely be claimed because he’s a former first-round pick that’s 22 years old with a high potential.

Remember, the Rangers took a risk with Dryden Hunt and he was taken by the Colorado Avalanche.

Rangers waiver options

ny rangers review ryan reaves
Nov 12, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Tanner Jeannot (84) and New York Rangers right wing Ryan Reaves (75) fight during the third period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

As of right now, the two players that are most likely to be placed on waivers for cap space savings are Ryan Reaves or Ryan Carpenter.

Ryan Reaves

The 35 year-old hard-hitting forward seems slower than he was last year. He’s never been fleet of foot but is struggling a little more so than anticipated. In 12 games this season, Reaves has failed to register a point. That being said, he’s one of the few true heavyweights in the league and would very likely be claimed. His current salary is $1.75M, which means some of his cap hit will stay on the books as you’re only allowed to bury $1.125M in the AHL.

Ryan Carpenter

Gerard Gallant values Carpenter’s ability to play center and kill penalties. Yet, he’s still been scratched on several occasions this season. In 14 games, he has just two points (1G – 1A) but is 59.8% on draws. At just $750,000 against the cap, it won’t be a big savings for the Rangers and likely makes him an interesting claim for an injury plagued team.

Rangers trade options

So could the Rangers make space by trading a player? If so, who would it be? Both Ryan Reaves and Ryan Carpenter are candidates but will return next to nothing in a deal.

That’s why Vitali Kravtsov and Sammy Blais are the most likely trade candidates.

Vitali Kravtsov

I doubt that GM Chris Drury wants to trade Kravtsov at this time. However, he’s probably likely to fetch the biggest return. I would think a second-round pick as the ceiling. The talented winger is having a hard time staying healthy and has just 1 assist in 6 games. In a perfect world, Kravtsov and his $875,000 cap hit would be a sweetener for a trade deadline splash.

Sammy Blais

It’s hard not to feel for Blais, who is a hard worker but looks very slow among the Rangers skaters. The 26 year-old missed virtually all of last season with a torn ACL and is still trying to find his skating legs. In 14 games this season, Blais has only been able to muster 3 assists and a handful of good scoring chances. I’m not sure what he could fetch in a trade on his own. His current cap hit of $1.525M is attractive, but he will be a UFA in July which will limit the return to a mid-round pick.

What will the Rangers do?

Right now the Rangers aren’t forced to do anything unless they really want to accrue cap space for the trade deadline.

Should the Rangers find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having two defensemen out, I would think a waiver wire move is the route they’d try first. Ryan Carpenter is the player I believe they’d take a risk with knowing they have Gustav Rydahl to fill that 4th line center role if needed.

As for a trade, it’s hard to see anything happening right now. Sammy Blais is the most likely trade candidate, maybe even Julien Gauthier because he could be at maximum value.

Of course, moving Blais for next to nothing will certainly bring out Drury’s critics regarding the Pavel Buchnevich trade.

At the end of the day, the Rangers have things they need to consider and only a handful of players they’re likely willing to risk losing or moving.

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