Rangers aggressive approach to rebuild the right move despite cap issues
This July has been, characteristically slow as far as hockey news goes. After the first two days of the month; it seems as if NHL GMs put their phones on airplane mode for a few weeks. Can’t knock it, I’d personally love to pull an Eric Cartman for a few weeks and just go home. However, there is still plenty of work to be down by Jeff Gorton before the fall.
Dom Luszczyszyn of the Athletic wrote a great article grading teams contracts. Definitely worth a read in full but to simplify, he grades the Rangers at a C. Then in an excerpt says that the team is still a ways away from contending due to bad contracts. That may not be the case in hindsight.
Learning from others
This summer is the perfect example as to why the Rangers CANNOT afford to wait until the summer of 2021 to make aggressive additions. For the next two seasons, Brett Howden, Lias Andersson, Filip Chytil, Igor Shesterkin, Yegor Rykov and Libor Hajek all come off their entry level deals. Should a guy like Pavel Buchnevich get bridged then you’re looking at him also coming off the books two summers from now. For all intents and purposes most, if not all, of these players will need deals that will truly effect the cap.
Let’s then follow it up with the summer after that. Mika Zibanejad will have his bargain of a contract expire. He’s underpaid, even if he takes a step back in 2019-20, he’s underpaid. He won’t be with his next contract. Adam Fox, Vitali Kravtsov and Kaapo Kakko come off their entry level deals as well that summer. Suddenly the team is looking at back to back years where money will need to be shelled out and it will be difficult to do so. Suddenly the Rangers are in a similar situation to the Blue and White up north. Where they have to worry everyday about the threat of an offer sheet.
Of course, some big contracts will also come off the books by that time too. Lundqvist, Shattenkirk, and Staal will all have their contracts expire and add back $25M in cap space to lock up some of those players.
The Rangers cannot stay stagnant. The team has, an elite talent, good prospects, an elite prospect and are close to striking distance. However as you can see the team opened a window by rebuilding quickly but due to a hard cap it can only be opened so much. The team must strike while the iron is hot both for immediate success and long term success. The idea of waiting until after “bad” contracts come off the books to compete is not possible in THIS NHL.
There will always be more money needed to be handed out and there will always be more moves to make. Strike while the kids are getting pennies on the dollar and your best player (at least from last year) is getting that Dwight Howard loot while putting up 70+ points a campaign. This is an opportunity to shed cap and still be aggressive. Teams aren’t going to sit around and wait for the Rangers to get out of bad contracts, they’ll have to do it the same way they did the rebuild, on the fly.