Tony DeAngelo and Ryan Strome are the Rangers top offseason priority
The Rangers offseason (whenever that starts) will need to prioritize both Tony DeAngelo and Ryan Strome to the top of their To-Do List. Let’s take a look at what Jeff Gorton and the Rangers will do.
The 24 year old righty shot has emerged as the Rangers best offensive defenseman since Brian Leetch with 53 points in 68 games. If he were able to play all the remaining games and maintains this scoring pace, he would finish with about 64-65 points. For some context, John Carlson of the Capitals scored 70 last season. That’s pretty good by any standard.
Last off-season DeAngelo held out but was forced to take the Rangers offer because he had no leverage. That will not be the case this summer as he has arbitration rights and will likely ask for a new deal in the $6M to $7M range. Currently, Tony is 4th in scoring for all NHL defenseman. He is sandwiched in between Victor Hedman (7.8M), Quinn Hughes (916K), Alex Pietrangelo (6.5M), and Torey Krug (5.25M). Let’s eliminate Hedman who is established as a top d-man and Hughes who is on his ELC. Both Pietrangelo and Krug are in their late 20’s and set to become UFA’s this summer, but signed their current deals around the same age as DeAngelo will be. That’s where I come up with DeAngelo’s ask.
The Rangers could work out a deal with Tony for about 5.5M AAV over the next 5 years, buying 2 years of unrestricted free agency. This would be the best move cap wise, but he isn’t the only RFA/UFA they need to sign this summer. They could go the bridge deal route for 2 years at say $3.5 to 4M but that has many risks.
The future risk is DeAngelo continues to improve and becomes one of the NHL’s top scoring defenseman. His contract would also expire and make him a UFA which he then may want to test the market for max money. That could force the Rangers to trade him at the deadline for less than what he’s worth. Penny smart, dollar dumb. The immediate risk should he refuse the bridge deal, is losing the case in arbitration and having to pay maybe 6-7M versus the 5.5M I mentioned earlier on a 1 year deal. Gorton wouldn’t walk away from the award, but that extra 1-1.5M in cap space may cost him from re-signing Jesper Fast.
Ryan Strome has 59 points in 70 games this season. He has found a home and some chemistry with the Rangers superstar forward, Artemi Panarin. But so far in 129 career games as a Blueshirt he has 92 points (36 goals and 56 assists). When it comes to his importance to this team, it is not just these stats. The Rangers don’t have a lot of NHL ready centers able to take on the responsibility of 2nd line duties. Filip Chytil is a prime example of that, and the Rangers are still flirting with him on the wing so it is a fluid situation.
At the age of 26, Ryan Strome is set to become a free agent with arbitration rights. This summer you can fully expect to see him file for salary arbitration as the Rangers will pose a number much lower than he is expecting. The big difference for a player with arbitration rights is that the team doesn’t hold all the cards in negotiations. Unlike what happened with Tony DeAngelo where he was forced to take it or leave this past offseason, thar is not the case for Strome or even DeAngelo this time around.
Strome is coming off a deal that comes with a 3.1M AAV. When it comes to numbers the Rangers are likely to offer a deal around 4M while Strome’s side will seek close to 6M. The two sides will likely fall on a 2 year deal at around $5M AAV and never face an arbitrator. Of course, there is always that risk and the Rangers could face an award they would walk away from. Unlikely, but possible. Just remember, Ryan Strome was acquired for Ryan Spooner so I doubt this would turn into a Nik Zherdev situation.