Rangers working on trades and considering a buyout

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You don’t have to be a mathematician or a salary capologist to see that the New York Rangers have some maneuvering to do. Before we get into how to get it done, let’s understand where they are.

Current Situation

Using CapFriendly‘s Arm Chair GM tool, I was able to determine that the Rangers have just under $8M of cap space. This was done after sending Matt Belesky to Hartford and signing Kaapo Kakko to his ELC of $925,000. That amount alone may not be able to get Jacob Trouba’s deal done, leaving Pavel Buchnevich, Tony DeAngelo, and Brendan Lemieux out in the cold.

DeAngelo and Lemieux are both RFA’s without arbitration eligibility. That means the Rangers are in complete control and they could either sign or hold out. DeAngelo who is coming off a deal with a cap hit of $863,333 is in line for a bridge deal of either 1 year at ~$1.5M or 2 years at ~$2M. Lemieux who had a cap hit of $839,167 will get something similar as well, probably a little less. Let’s be conservative and say it will cost $3.5M to lock up both.

That leaves, Pavel Buchnevich who has an arbitration date of July 29th to be signed. The talented winger is coming off his ELC at $925K and will net either a 2 year bridge deal at $3M or 3 years at $3.5M. When you add it up, that is around $7M needed to finalize this roster and get cap compliant.

A Trade Is Inevitable

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One important piece the Rangers would like to keep is Chris Kreider, even without an extension in place. According to the NY Post there hasn’t been any progress between the two parties. I reached out to Kreider’s agent and have yet to get a response. On the Rangers side, there was nothing they could discuss on that front.

When I asked about the current situation and the limited cap space, I was told that there were obvious moves that need to be made, but there were several ways to get there.

Let’s start with the most obvious move now that the Rangers can leverage the 2nd buyout window. 48 hours after locking up Jacob Trouba, Jeff Gorton will likely buyout Brendan Smith and add $3,379,167 in space for this season. This still leaves the Rangers almost $4M short of what they need.

That means the trading of at least $4M in salary. Once the Rangers sign Lemieux and Buch up front they will have 14 forwards and only need to carry 13. Someone has to go. This is where the most likely candidate to move appears to be Vlad Namestnikov and his $4M cap hit.

Here’s the kicker, there isn’t much of a market for him right now and the Rangers can’t afford to take back a contract. If they trade him, they will basically be giving him away. On another front, Namestnikov and Artemi Panarin have a relationship and it may entice Gorton to keep him. Plus he can play center too.

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Retaining Namestnikov forces the Rangers to trade Ryan Strome, who really came on late last season. But dealing him is only $3.1M and leaves them still shy. That means the Rangers would have to try hard to move Kevin Shattenkirk in a deal. Whether they take back someone with half his contract or deal him for picks and retain 50% the savings is around $3.325M. This combo gives the Rangers possibly $6M in cap space with flexibility and breathing room. Easier said than done.

Ultimately, the Rangers may be forced to move the one person they don’t want to. Chris Kreider is someone a few teams want and his cap hit of $4.625M is exactly what the Rangers need to move. Coupled with the Smith buyout that’s about $8M in cap space.

The Rangers Will Get There

According to the rumor mill, the Rangers are active in trade conversations. One team has come up often this offseason is Colorado, who have over $23M in cap space. A deal between these two teams could come at anytime, but realize the Avs (or any other team) hold the advantage knowing the Rangers cap situation.

The bottom line is this, the Rangers have several pathways to get all their RFA’s signed and become cap compliant. In a perfect world, they would be able to do this and keep Kreider for what should be a very competitive and playoff possible season.