September 20, 2020

Young stars will hinder Rangers ability to retain all their restricted free agents

These performance bonuses will cost at least one RFA (Orig: Getty Images/Edit: FTHN)

When most people look at the salary cap for a team, they focus on two things; the cap limit and projected cap space. If it were that easy, NHL teams wouldn’t hire people who focus on dealing with the salary cap in their front offices.

You see, there’s a group of players to which the Rangers have an abundance of that are eligible for performance bonuses. That is why the Rangers actually have the highest amount possible to be paid next season. It is also the biggest factor in determining if they can sign all four of their big RFA’s.

Understanding the Rangers cap better

While working on the Rangers free agent situation and trying to predict what will happen, a source pointed out something interesting. Too many people continue to overlook the cap cushion required for performance bonuses.

Per CapFriendly, the Rangers next season have $7.2 million in potential performance bonuses. So while they have $14 million in cap space, they have to assume that if all performance goals are hit, they really only have $7 million in cap space. Mind you, it is even more complex than that, but I want to try and keep it simple. That way you understand why signing both Strome and DeAngelo may be nearly impossible and the team may have to move one.

Who on the Rangers is eligible

New York Rangers salary cap
Igor Shesterkin (Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

Per the last CBA (starting on page 326), on top of the max base salary of $925K on an entry level contract, those players could also be eligible for performance bonus. There are Schedule A and B types which you can read up on. There are also performance bonuses on contracts for players over 35 years of age, but the Rangers have none of those.

Here are the players eligible and their max bonus money for next season:

  • Igor Shesterkin can earn an additional $2.85M
  • Kaapo Kakko can earn an additional $2.65M
  • Adam Fox can earn an additional $850K
  • Filip Chytil $350K
  • Julien Gauthier $300K
  • Ryan Lindgren $212K

Obviously, not all that money will be hit but you have to keep that cushion in mind or the overage will hit your cap in 2021-22. Now that’s just what you see projected. What you haven’t accounted for yet is this….Alexis Lafreniere.

He will likely be in the same realm as Kakko and Shesterkin so that potential $7 million jumps to $10 million! Oh wait, you want K’Andre Miller to make the team too? And maybe even Morgan Barron? Are cash register sounds going crazy in your head yet? Because I can barely hear myself think writing this.

Why the Rangers will have to make a tough decision with their RFA’s

New York Rangers rumors
Ryan Strome and Tony DeAngelo need to stay with NYR (NHLI/Getty Images)

Now that you have all this information, you have a better comprehension as to why the Rangers have not had any serious talks yet with their RFAs. They are working out all this housekeeping first.

In order for the Rangers to retain Tony DeAngelo, Ryan Strome, Brendan Lemieux, and Alexandar Georgiev they will need anywhere from $10 to $15 million dollars. That is why talks of the Rangers keeping Jesper Fast are ludicrous, not to mention I reported on September 1st he was going to free agency. The perils of being an independent is not getting the same traction on those stories as the bigger news papers.

I am a huge proponent in keeping all four of the RFA’s in question. Of course, in my discussions with people in the know around the team, that is unlikely to happen. There is a chance they could with some deft trades of older players with big salaries. However, there’s one move not in the Rangers control that could make keeping all four possible.

Henrik Lundqvist holds the key to this dilemma. Should he opt to retire, the Rangers will get back $8.5 million in cap space and thus not worry about those performance bonuses too much. However, at this time it does not sound like he will. While it is more likely a buyout will occur later next week or just before the draft, Hank could make one last save for the franchise by retiring.

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