Now that the NHL announced the salary cap of $56.8 million for the upcoming season, it is time to examine the Rangers precarious cap situation heading into free agency.
While most pegged the Rangers as right up against the cap, upon further investigation, they are not as strapped as it initially appeared.
The retirement of Markus Naslund as well as some inevitable free agent losses have provided the Rangers some cap relief and the ability to re-shape the team with several spots to fill and cap space to do it.
We attempted a salary cap review some months back, but with a few errors, so this time around we are basing our numbers around NHLSCAP.com.
Forwards under contract with cap hit (numbers rounded):
Scott Gomez - $7.4 mil.
Chris Drury - $7.1 mil.
Sean Avery - $1.9 mil.
Aaron Voros - $1.0 mil.
TOTAL: 4 players under contract. Combined $17.4 mil.
Players To Sign: 8
Defensemen under contract with cap hit (numbers rounded):
Wade Redden - $6.5 mil.
Michal Rozsival - $5.0 mil.
Dan Girardi - $1.6 mil.
Marc Staal - $0.9 mil.
TOTAL: 4 players under contract. Combined $14 mil.
Players to Sign: 2
Goalies under contract with cap hit (numbers rounded):
Henrik Lundqvist - $6.9 mil.
Steve Valiquette - $0.8 mil.*
TOTAL: 2 players under contract. Combined $7.7 mil.
Players to Sign: 0
TOTAL Committed salary for 2009 - 10: $39.1 mil.
TOTAL Player to Sign: 10
Remaining Cap Space: $17.7 mil.
Using these numbers as a rough estimate, the Rangers need to sign or promote a total of 10 players with a little under $18 million. This also doesn't take into account any trade possibilities (such as Dany Heatley).
Now let's have a little fun.
Let's assume that the following Rangers' forwards are re-signed:
Brandon Dubinsky - $2.5 mil.
Ryan Callahan - $2.5 mil.
Lauri Korpikoski - $2 mil.
That leaves 4 forwards left to sign and $10.7 mil. remaining.
Let's also assume for a moment that Artem Anisimov is called from Hartford:
Artem Anisimov - $0.9 mil.
3 forwards left to sign and $9.8 mil. remaining.
Looking at the free agent class, there is a lot of potential for one stud and perhaps a couple depth forwards. However, this is where Sather's shrewd trading tactics come into play.
If you can trade for a player like Heatley by alleviating the burden of a contract like Rozsival's, you are creating a top-line player without wasting cap space.
Then you are looking at a situation where you only need a couple forwards which can be supplemented from Hartford or second-tier free agents.
If a trade like that were to occur, you would need to sign a third defenseman, but two of those players could come from Hartford such as Corey Potter and Mike Sauer, both of whom make less than $1 mil. per year.
So while the task is not easy, it is certainly less daunting than in years past.
A couple of potential UFA's the Rangers may look at it if they don't trade for Heatley:
- Marian Gaborik - $5 mil./ year
- Brian Gionta - $5 mil. / year
- Chris Neil - $2 mil. / year
- Alex Tanguay - $6 mil. / year
- Taylor Pyatt - $2.5 mil. / year
If the Rangers do trade for Heatley, only players like Neil and Pyatt may be feasible as well as re-signing a player like Colton Orr or Freddy Sjostrom.
On defense, the Rangers may look at:
- Mattias Ohlund - $4 mil. / year
- Jaroslav Spacek - $3.5 mil. / year
- Derek Morris - $4.5 mil. / year
- Mike Komisarek - $4 mil. / year
- Francois Beauchemin - $3 mil. / year
- Rob Scuderi - $2.5 mil. / year
Of course, depending on what happens to Rozsival, this impacts the Rangers' approach.
While there are lots of options this offseason, the Rangers may need to make a move or two to get the quality forward they are seeking.
Yet, if they don't make any trades, they will still have decent cap space to fill their voids with good players, but not the cream of the crop.
More this afternoon, including updates from Prospects Developmental Camp.
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