Rangers ‘making progress’ on contract with RFA defenseman: report

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to restricted free-agent defensemen and the New York Rangers this offseason, the focus has squarely been on Ryan Lindgren. But there’s another important defenseman that needs to work out a new contract with the Rangers, and there appears to be some good news on that front.

Per Vince Mercogliano of lohud.com, the Rangers are making progress” on a bridge deal with Braden Schneider. A bridge deal is the typical course the Rangers take when a young player has just finished his entry-level contract, which Schneider did at the end of the 2023-24 season.

“Word is that they’re making progress with Schneider on a bridge deal (likely two or three years) for an average annual value in the range of $2.5 million, according to one person with knowledge of the situation who spoke to lohud.com, part of the USA TODAY Network, under the condition of anonymity,” Mercogliano reported.

This was always expected to be the easier of the contracts the Blueshirts needed to get done this offseason. Though an emerging key part of New York’s core, Schneider has little leverage to negotiate more than a bridge deal of 2-3 years in the $2+ million range. If he solidifies himself as a top-four defenseman, as expected, he’ll have a nice payday awaiting him on his next deal, similar to defenseman K’Andre Miller next offseason.

The 22-year-old has played 206 regular-season games and another 43 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs already. He is a solid two-way defenseman whose production should rise as his game matures.

Schneider had an NHL career-high 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) playing all 82 games this past season. He added two assists in 16 postseason games.

A staple on the third pair this season, Schneider excelled when playing in the top four after injuries to Jacob Trouba, Ryan Lindgren and Erik Gustafsson in March. He and Miller synced nicely and also played together at points during the playoffs. They very well could be the second pair when the 2024-25 season opens, with Trouba playing on the third pair alongside Zac Jones, the 23-year-old who’s expected to replace Gustafsson, who signed a two-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings.

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Rangers still must work out contracts with Braden Schneider, Ryan Lindgren

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The more difficult contract to work out for the Blueshirts this summer is Lindgren’s. The 26-year-old already filed for arbitration and can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season.

The Rangers don’t want to walk Lindgren into UFA status next summer with a one-year arbitration ruling, so they want to negotiate a contract that buys into the start of Lindgren’s free-agent seasons. But that’s where things get difficult in negotiations.

Whereas Lindgren seeks the security of a longer-term contract, the Rangers may only want to commit to three or four years maximum because of the fear he will break down physically from his warrior-like play style.

The Rangers want cost certainty with Lindgren ahead of a busy 2025 offseason when Igor Shesterkin (UFA), Alexis Lafreniere (RFA with arbitration rights) and Miller (also RFA with arbitration rights) all require new, costly deals. And they don’t want to lose Lindgren for nothing next July 1 as a UFA. But the Rangers don’t wish to commit to Lindgren for five or more years either.

Unlike in the Schneider negotiation, the player has more leverage here because Lindgren can accept the arbitrator’s ruling and then become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Even though Schneider has less of a time crunch to get his contract finalized, expect him to sign before Lindgren this summer.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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