The New York Rangers likely let out a collective groan when the Florida Panthers announced a new extension for center Aleksander Barkov. It’s a max term deal for 8 years at $10M AAV. Florida backloaded the deal with bonuses making it basically buyout proof.
Florida is a no income tax state which makes this a little more expensive in other cities.
That sound of jubilation you hear on Broadway comes from the Mika Zibanejad camp, who will use this as a comparable.
Rangers want to extend Mika but have Eichel as an option
The Blueshirts are making sure that one way or another an elite center will be a member of the team come next season. Whether that will be Mika Zibanejad or Jack Eichel remains to be seen.
According to a source with knowledge, the Rangers will be in on Eichel up until they sign Zibanejad.
Multiple reports indicate that the Rangers and Zibanejad have already started negotiations on a long-term deal. The unknown is what the AAV will be. Based on speculation out there, Zibanejad is looking for a number around $10 million and the Rangers are trying to get him in at $8 million.
After Barkov’s signing today, this will be really difficult.
That’s why the Rangers interest in Eichel is an unspoken bargaining chip Chris Drury has in his back pocket. The Rangers could acquire the Sabres disgruntled 24 year-old center without cap issues this season. So there would be no rush to trade any top salary to make room for his $10M AAV.
The cap issues will come next season with both Adam Fox and Kaapo Kakko coming off entry-level deals too. Keeping both Eichel and Zibanejad on the books would put a strain on their cap situation, and likely open them up to an offer-sheet.
When I asked if it was possible to keep both, there really was no easy way to do so.
Acquiring Eichel before signing Zibanejad is probably not an automatic that Mika will be gone. However, if #93 extends before a trade for Eichel, that should rule the Rangers out.
A Barkov extension; an Eichel trade with conditions; and more here.