Predicting and breaking down the Rangers next moves

Namestnikov and Strome (AP)

The cap crunch is on and the Rangers have a plethora of options to get cap compliant before the start of the regular season. That’s what I stressed in yesterday’s feature and what I will continue with today.

How Much Cap Do They Need

First we need to examine what it is the Rangers need to accomplish and how much cap space do they need to do it. The Rangers need about $6M to $7M in cap space to sign Pavel Buchnevich, Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux and leave approximately a $1M cushion for short term call ups. To quickly define what that is, let’s say Ryan Strome took a bad spill and bruised his shoulder, Rangers could call up someone from the minors for a few games making under $1M and not have a penalty.

Projecting RFA contracts

For both DeAngelo and Lemieux they could be looking at 1 year, $1M dollar deals each. Remember they have no leverage due to a lack of arbitration rights. So it could be a take it or leave it situation for them. Considering where they are in their careers, I doubt either holds out.

Buchnevich could also be given a 1 year deal if the Rangers are that tight for cap space at around $3M, but a bridge deal at $3.5M is where they’d like to land. When you factor in about $1M in cushion space for short term call ups during the season, there is that estimated $7M they need.

Predicting the Rangers Next Moves

In order of highest probability:
1. Buyout of Brendan Smith
2. Trade of Vlad Namestnikov
3. Trade of Ryan Strome
4. Trade of Chris Kreider

Smith clears crease (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

If you’ve been reading this site for the last month, the easiest path numerically for the Rangers to get to $7M is to buyout Smith (cap savings of $3.379M) and trade Vlad Namestnikov for a conditional middle round pick, with no salary retained (savings of $4M).

You can expect Jeff Gorton to be extremely aggressive in the trade market before having to go the buyout route. Just remember, other GM’s have cap concerns and Smith has a modified no trade clause to add to the difficulty of a deal. That means, other GM’s are in the driver’s seat in any trade negotiations with the Rangers.

Still the most likely route even based on the limited demand for Vlad Namestnikov is a trade and Smith buyout. The Blueshirts could sweeten the pot and retain some salary on Namestnikov but that means they would need to move Ryan Strome as well. Namestnikov is set to be a UFA after next season so don’t expect a big return. Same with Strome who will be restricted, but certainly more attractive. Dealing Strome, which is not something the Rangers want to do saves $3.1M.

Of course, the last resort is trading Chris Kreider. We’ve been told the Rangers are trying to find ways to retain Kreider to start the season. Still, if they can’t find a path to $4M via trades mentioned above, he is the most asked about commodity and easier to move. That would take $4.625M off the cap and gets the Rangers to where they need to be once Smith is bought out.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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