Congratulations on your purchase of the 2015 "How To Save The New York Rangers Money" handbook written by Blueshirt Banter's very own Joe Fortunato. We truly do appreciate your patronage and we hope we can help you get through your money problems with a step by step guide to saving your favorite hockey team some money this season!
So what are you waiting for?? Let's jump right in!
Step 1: Identify How Much Money You Need
The very first step to saving money is to analyze why you need to save money. This summer, the Rangers have a total of seven free agents.
Three players are unrestricted free agents (UFA) - Martin St. Louis, James Sheppard and Matt Hunwick. Four players are restricted free agents (RFA) - Derek Stepan, Jesper Fast, Carl Hagelin, J.T. Miller.
The expectation is the Rangers are intending to sign all four of Stepan, Fast, Hagelin and Miller. Stepan is, without a doubt, going to be the most expensive of the group but don't sleep on Hagelin to make a nice little raise as well. Both Miller and Hagelin will most likely get bridge deals which has become a stern precedent set by Glen Sather. More information on that is here.
Using past bridge deals/market values/intellectual hypothesis we are going to assume all four RFAs are going to need the below totals to sign their contracts (these are yearly cap hits not total contract values):
Stepan: $6-million (represents a $2.925-million raise)
Hagelin: $4.5-million (represents a $2.25-million raise -- I might be going in a little high here)
Miller: $1.5-million (represents a $605,834 raise)
Fast: $1.5-million (represents a $695,000 raise)
Tallying these contracts up would mean the Rangers need $13.5-million to keep all four RFAs up for re-negotiation. For the purposes of this handbook, we're going to use those totals.
Now that we've identified where the money needs to go we can move on to the next step.
Step 2: What Is The Current Monetary Landscape?
As of right now the Rangers have $59.5-million tied up to 14 roster players. In order to accurately attempt to forecast the market we're going to work under the assumption the salary cap for next year will be $71-million flat. Most indications are either at that figure or slightly above it, so it's the safest bet. Under that assumption the Rangers have $11.5-million worth of cap space.
Step 3: Where Can You Save Right Now?
This step does not include any transactions that need to be processed -- so no trades.
We've already talked about the Rangers four RFAs above, but what about the three UFAs? The salary cap space figure above ($11.5-million) DOES NOT include the cap hits of St. Louis, Hunwick or Sheppard. So if you wanted to re-sign them, the salary figure would cut into the $11.5-million dollars worth of space the team currently has.
Since we're projecting the Rangers to need $13.5-million just to keep their RFAs, this is the first step in maximizing the money you have to work with. Both sides seem more than prepared for St. Louis to move on (be it to the Hall of Fame or another team) so that's a big issue taken care of right away.
For now, we're going to put both Hunwick and Sheppard on hold. I'd love to bring them back, but we need to see how the money shakes out first, and they're not currently priorities.
Step 4: Easy And Likely Places To Save Money
Cam Talbot has long been rumored to be on the trading block for the Rangers. After he stood in for Henrik Lundqvist and posted spectacular numbers (more on that here) it became apparent that he has decent value for the rest of the NHL. Currently, there are reputable reports out there the Rangers and Oilers might combine to move Talbot for the 16th overall selection in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Now there are reports that the Flames, Oilers and Sharks might be in a bidding war for Talbot, so we'll see where this goes.
Regardless, assuming Talbot is moved (and the Rangers take no salary back -- which is expected) the Rangers will save another $1.45-million. However we do need to factor in the Rangers bringing in a veteran backup, so we're going to turn that $1.45-million savings into $900K worth of savings to factor in a depth goalie signing.
This move (and the expected signing) would bring the Rangers total cap space up to $12.4-million. But the savings don't have to end there.
Currently Kevin Klein is employing the Rangers 6th defensive slot and making $2.9-million a year. The contract is far too high for his role, and while I love Klein and think he brings a lot of intangibles to the team, you're reading a money saving handbook for a reason.
There has been speculation the Rangers might try and package Klein with Talbot in a move for prospects and picks. If that happens, the Rangers would take back none of Klein's salary. And with players like Dylan McIlrath and Brady Skjei in the wings, replacing him internally is both possible and expected. To make things easy (since McIlrath is a RFA) and since I believe Skjei is higher on the depth chart, let's remove Klein's salary and replace it with Skjei's ELC worth a $925K cap hit.
Replacing Klein with Skjei saves the Rangers $1.975-million, which becomes $14.375-million total savings when you factor in the Talbot scenario above.
That total is more than enough to keep all of the Rangers RFAs and leave the Rangers $875K to spare. But that's not where the improvements need to end ...
Step 5: Throw Emotions Out The Window And Do The Right Thing With Tanner Glass
The Rangers currently employ Tanner Glass, who just finished the first of a three year deal worth $1.45-million per year. Glass actually was much better in the playoffs than the regular season, but the bar was set low enough that the improvement is not an enforcement.
I do believe there are teams in the NHL who still value players like Glass. Smarter, more analytically based teams have moved away from such players and are better for it. Still, there are teams who value toughness at the expense of puck possession. The Rangers should attempt to leverage that in a trade. Moving Glass for any type of draft pick return is a win here, but I'm going to work off the assumption the Rangers' can't trade him and need to bury him in the AHL.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement players who are sent to the minors can only represent a $900K savings against the cap, with the rest of the salary remaining in the cap figure. At this adjustment the Rangers would save $900K on his contract, bringing their total savings up to $15.275-million ($1.775-million after you factor in the RFA contracts we agreed on above).
Step 6: Find Depth Players And Bring Them In
We already handled this step with goalies and defense above, so we do have the full $1.775 to work with without having to replace any goalie or defenseman on the active roster. Glass' spot is currently open, so let's fill it with Ryan Bourque (you could use Oscar Lindberg here, but he's an RFA so to make this easy we're using a player with a contract) who is making $562K a year. That turns the Rangers surplus into just $1.213-million.
Do the Rangers need a depth defenseman? Sure! Let's try and keep Hunwick -- who made $600K last year -- at the same rate. Now the Rangers have $613K to work with.
Note: It's more than likely Skjei will remain in Hartford and Hunwick would replace Klein. Both cap hits will be represented below, so it doesn't really matter how we project them out.
Step 7: Review Your Work
Format is going to be player (caphit). Note these are simple line projections to work out the dollars. For players who were RFAs or UFAs we're using the cap hits we agreed to above.
Forwards: Total cap hit $36.237
Nash (7.8) - Derick Brassard (5) - Mats Zuccarello (4.5)
Kreider (2.475) - Stepan (6) - Kevin Hayes (900K)
Hagelin (4.5) - Miller (1.5) - Fast (1.5)
??? - Dominic Moore (1.5) - Bourque (562K)
Defenseman: Total cap hit $23.95-million
McDonagh (4.7) - Girardi (5.5)
Yandle (2.625) - Staal (5.7)
Skjei (925K) - Boyle (4.5)
Goalies: Total cap hit $9.4-million
Henrik Lundqvist (8.5)
The Backup (900K)
Reserve: Total cap hit $600K
Total cap hit for roster above: $70.187
Cap space remaining: $813K
Step 8: Panic
As you can see above, the fourth line currently has "???" playing a role. We're going to assume that player is going to be Oscar Lindberg and we're going to assume he sign's for $800K. That brings the Rangers down to just $13K worth of cap space. Not $130K, $13K.
Everyone makes mistakes so it's OK to be at this step in the money saving process. The important thing to do is identify problems and deal with them directly. So let's take a look at what you have in Step 7 ...
Oh sweet Jesus that Dan Girardi contract! OH GOD WHY!
OK relax. Breath deeply. Think about being on the beach. It's important to remember that this handbook is very simply words projected onto a digital stream through the Internet in some capacity. If you are to pass out this handbook cannot help you. It cannot call for help. It cannot revive you. In fact, this handbook doesn't even know you've passed out or are in distress. You could be blacked out right now and not even reading this. The handbook has no way to know.
Also, just so you're aware, this handbook is not alive. It cannot think or utilize reason. If you relied on the handbook and only the handbook to watch over you as you went through this process you've made a critical error and are being punished for it.
If you haven't passed out, let's take a look at the final step.
Step 9: Drastic Measures
You need to look at this step with a reasonable eye. The Girardi contract, on the surface, is going to be very difficult to move for two big reasons. The first is it's going to be difficult for suitors to fit his contract into their salary cap stratosphere. The second is that he has a limited no trade clause which could eliminate the potential teams in the mix.
There are, however, general managers who still value players like Girardi. In fact, you can easily value a player like Girardi. He's a warrior, can soak up big minutes and is an exceptional shot blocker. Those qualities, however, are not the qualities of a $5.5-million defenseman.
You can see the problem above. I, actually, have no issues with Bourque and Lindberg teaming up with Moore on the fourth line. The bigger issue is the lack of remaining cap space. If you remove the Girardi contract (and replace him with Hunwick) then you're relying on Skjei to handle 6th D minutes and situations. I'm not totally opposed to this, but it's not really ideal (unless he surprises some people, which is possible).
Removing Girardi and replacing him (even with a $3-million defenseman) saves $2.5-million that can be used for upgrade or even breathing room. General managers, as a rule of thumb, usually like to keep enough cap space so that they can maneuver if something changes in the market. Maybe a big name becomes available or there's a trade they want to explore. There's not a lot anyone can do with $13K worth of cap space.
So for the Rangers, there are legitimate reasons why they should look to move Girardi and save more cap space. This handbook, for what it's worth, is not a general manager and cannot make those decisions for you. It can be presented to said general manager to show them reason about the situation, but they need to make the decision themselves.
Thank you for purchasing the how to save money handbook! We're happy to provide these types of services for you so long as they're needed ...
Hopefully they're not needed for long.