Should the Rangers Buy Em Out or Ride Em Out?
In a season of many ups and downs thus far, Rangers head coach David Quinn has wrestled with what to do on the back end night in and night out. To this point, every Rangers defenseman has found themselves in the press box whether it was for one game, or a stretch of games……except Marc Staal.
To this point, the 32 year old veteran has not been AWFUL, but many agree he probably should have found himself in street clothes a couple of times this season. He has registered a 1-4—5 line, in terms of points, is a +3, and logs an average of nearly 19 minutes a night. Staal, who we all know is the furthest thing from a puck-moving, flashy defenseman, has been known for his stay at home style. He is also the veteran leading a backend consisting of 24 year old Brady Skjei, and a pair of 23 year olds in Tony DeAngelo, and Neil Pionk; who Staal has played a majority of this season with.
Every summer, talks of a Staal buyout surface as fans begin to grow more and more frustrated with his play while carrying a hefty contract. Assuming number 18 doesn’t get traded (which I would certainly not expect), he will have two years left on his deal carrying an AAV of $5.7 million. If a Staal buyout were to occur, it would cost the Rangers the following in dead cap over the following four years:
Year 1 – $2.9m ($2.8m saved)
Year 2 – $3.7m ($2m saved)
Year 3 – $1.2m (-$1.2m)
Year 4 – $1.2m (-$1.2m)
…..which brings us to our next contract.
When the Rangers traded for Brendan Smith in February of 2017, they got exactly what they expected, if not more. During the last quarter of that season with the Rangers, Smith played solid hockey on the second pair with then rookie, Brady Skjei. As the regular season came to a close, and the Ranges prepared for a playoff push yet again, they instilled a ton of confidence in the newly acquired defenseman.
During a playoff stint that ended in the second round to Ottawa, Brendan Smith was without question the second best defenseman on the team behind then captain Ryan McDonagh. Because of his great play, Smith was awarded a healthy contract of 4 years, carrying an AAV of $4.35 million. We all know how this story went…..Smtih came back from the summer lay off out of shape, found himself clearing waivers and sent back down to Hartford, and eventually ending his season by breaking his hand over teammate Vinni Lettieri’s head; an abysmal year for Smith to say the least.
Following a season that ended earlier than usual, the Rangers found themselves enjoying a longer summer. Smith, who was set on making a comeback, trained extremely hard, getting himself into “the best shape of his life” heading into camp. Now, here we are a quarter of the way through the season, and Brendan Smith seems to be going back to his old ways; blowing d-zone coverages, turning pucks over in both his own zone and the neutral zone, making ill-advised passes, and pretty much anything else you can think of.
To put it lightly, Brendan Smith is yet again not living up to the contract he signed back in the summer of 2017. Like Staal, Smith will not draw any trade interest, so we can assume he will play out the rest of this season with the Blueshirts. Come next summer he will have two years left on his deal, carrying an AAV of $4.35. If a Smith buyout were to occur, it would cost the Rangers the following in dead cap over the following four years:
Year 1 – $971k ($3.379m saved)
Year 2 – $3.15m ($1.2m saved)
Year 3 – $1.15m (-1.15m)
Year 4 – $1.15m (-$1.15m)
Buy Em Out or Ride Em Out
My solution: A Smith buyout, and a Staal rideout make the most sense. First of all, the buyout numbers are extremely similar. Second, Smith has more than underperformed since signing that contract, and no matter what Quinn (or AV) does (did), his game has not reached the level it was once at back in the 2017 playoffs.
Staal, while he is not Brian Leetch, still holds value to this team. He is apart of the previous core with Hank and Zucc, will wear an A for all 82 games, and could be a good mentor for the stock filled cabinet of defensemen Gorton has put together.