Rangers must shed salary today to make any significant UFA signings tomorrow

Gorton works the phone at the 2016 draft (NYR)

Gorton works the phone at the 2016 draft (NYR)

The Rangers have about 16M in cap space to play with. Much of that will be and should be eaten up by signing their 4 RFA. Yes, they need to get Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller locked up long term on 4-5 year deals. Maybe you take risks with smaller contracts on Kevin Hayes and Dylan McIlrath, but you still get them signed.

Jeff Gorton claimed that the team was going to take a hard look and make some changes this off-season, but time is running out. As of right now, Rick Nash is still on this team along with his 7.8M cap hit. Derek Stepan is still here and now that Steven Stamkos has decided to stay in Tampa, he shouldn’t be going anywhere.

Dan Girardi and Marc Staal won’t be bought out and are unlikely to waive their No Move clauses, so Jeff Gorton is really trying to change the team with the world’s strongest handcuffs secured firmly to his wrists. Still, if Gorton can find a taker for Nash, there’s chance he could make a signing or two on Friday.

But that trade needs to happen today!

If the Rangers add Pavel Buchnevich to the roster and all signs say they will, plus sign their 4 RFA’s for the following:

Kreider: 4.5M for 5 years

Miller: 3M for 4 years

Hayes: 2.3M for 2 years

McIlrath: 1.25M for 2 years

Then the Rangers will have just 3.3M to sign one more 4th line forward and add a reserve forward. It would look like this:

NYR w/Nash (CapFriendly)

NYR w/Nash (CapFriendly)

If the Rangers can move Rick Nash, and somehow free up between 3-4M in cap space after the deal, they could at least be in play for one of the bigger named free agent forwards and possibly a better bottom six option.

Nash (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Nash (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Let’s face it, if the Rangers don’t have decent cap space to play with when free agent frenzy opens tomorrow they’re not doing anything significant. If they want a crack at 28 year old Kyle Okposo they need about 5M+ in room to play with. Other notable free agent forwards are Loui Eriksson, Milan Lucic, and Andrew Ladd but you can expect these guys to be gone by the time the bell rings tomorrow at noon.

As far as defenseman on the open market, I have no interest in overpaying for an ancient Brian Campbell. As far as the rest of the field, overpaying for bottom 4 pairing defensemen like Roman Polak or Dan Hamhuis aren’t going to make the Rangers better.

If the Rangers want to improve their blue-line they will need to try and trade for a Cam Fowler orĀ Kevin Shattenkirk, otherwise don’t even bother.

My point is this, if the Rangers are going to really change the dynamic and make up of this team for years to come, they need to sign their RFA’s and trade away salary. Otherwise, you are looking at the same exact team from last year with probably just the addition of Nick Holden and possibly Thomas Vanek on a 1 year deal after his buyout.

Are you excited for next season yet?

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