Rangers likely to move Namestnikov by or at the draft
The Rangers have some big plans this offseason. While there’s chatter that Jeff Gorton will likely be buying out a defenseman, it won’t be enough. If the Rangers are to make a big splash in free agency, they will need to make trades too.
Current Cap Situation
Per CapFriendly, as it stands right now the Blueshirts appear to have a hair under $20M in cap space going into the summer. The Rangers also need to re-sign several key RFA’s in Pavel Buchnevich, Tony DeAngelo, Neal Pionk, and Brendan Lemieux. That will likely cost the Rangers about $11-13M in cap space.
That simply does not leave enough room to give Artemi Panarin the $10-12M salary he will seek and get on the open market. When you look at the potential buyout candidates on defense it is either Marc Staal or Brendan Smith. Any notion of buying out Kevin Shattenkirk should be met with the same reaction you would give a neighbor who told you they have a pet Bigfoot living in their basement.
For me, the likely buyout candidate is the 30 year old Smith who will give the Rangers over $3M in savings next season. That now gives the Rangers a little over $10M in cap space but they need more breathing room and roster space to insert not only Panarin but Kravtsov and likely Kakko.
Jeff Gorton is going to need to be creative and will have to make some hard decisions with players like Chris Kreider and Jimmy Vesey. However, from what I hear they are pretty set on moving Vlad Namestnikov before or at the draft this June.
Namestnikov has been disappointing but is still young and has promise to find his game again. Before last year’s terrible season, Namestnikov had back to back 48 point seasons.
A trade at the draft will likely include a pick or two along with Namestnikov to move up into the late first round or early second. It will also free up $4M more in cap space and give the Rangers that additional breathing room heading into the free agent season in July.