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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Glen Sather Looks Poised To Make Yet Another Important Summer Trade

   With the acquisition of left-handed defenseman Justin Falk from the Minnesota Wild (in exchange for AHL'er F Ben Ferriero & a 6th Round draft pick)... let's look at the top 25 roster spots relative to next year's salary cap. For the sake of example, we will assume RFAs & UFA Steve Eminger will all re-sign to 2-year contracts extensions.

Hagelin (1.875)*------ Stepan (3.300)*-------- Nash (7.800)
Kreider (1.325) ------ Brassard (3.200) --- Callahan (4.275)
Zuccarello (1.875)*-- Richards (6.667) ----- Dorsett (1.633)
Pyatt (1.550) ----------- Boyle (1.700) ------- Asham (1.000)
Haley (0.600) ---------- Powe (1.067) ----- Newbury (0.600)

McDonagh (3.333)*------- Girardi (3.325)
Staal (3.975) ------------- Stralman (1.700)
Del Zotto (2.550) -------- Eminger*(0.925)
Moore (0.965) / Falk (0.875)*

Lundqvist (6.875) / Biron (1.300)

* LD Ryan McDonagh re-signs 2-year, $3.333 million/yr contract
* C Derek Stepan re-signs 2-year, $3.300 million/yr contract
* W Carl Hagelin re-signs 2-year, $1.875 million/yr contract
* W Mats Zuccarello re-signs 2-year, $1.875 million/yr contract
* RD Steve Eminger re-signs 2-year, $0.925 million/yr contract
* LD Justin Falk signs 2-year, $0.875 million/yr contract

TOTAL: $64.29 million on top 25 roster spots [15F+8D+2G]
$10,000 below Salary Cap

AHL Forwards: 
JT Miller, J Fasth, O Lindberg, R Bourque, C Thomas, B Mashinter, M St. Croix, J Nicholls, M Hrivik, N Palmieri, K Jean, A Yogan, M Kantor, J Wilson

AHL Defensemen:
LD C Allen, RD D McIlrath, RD S Noreau, LD T Hughes, LD J Niemi

AHL Goalies:

C Talbot

   Well, it would appear Glen Sather has left himself little room to utilize the 2013 free agent market. This assortment of 25 roster players just squeezes roughly $10,000 below the salary cap, if all 25 players were to be on-roster for the entire season with nobody placed on long-term injured reserve. This roster situation leads the outside eye to conclude a few thoughts...

   1) Come October, is NYR General Manager Glen Sather truly comfortable with the team remaining largely unchanged from now? If so, and perhaps the retention of C Brad Richards from amnesty buyout suggests this as well, Sather may be confident enough in a coaching regime revolution to leave the young roster largely alone this off-season. It may be a case of keeping last year's playoff roster largely intact, with the intent of more trade deadline moves to alter/improve the roster down the final stretch of the 2013-14 regular season. This would mean a very boring off-season for NY Rangers fans. 

   2) Is Glen Sather planning on improving the roster via trade? Since there looks like very little cap space to add any free agents of impact, and will not exercise his final amnesty buyout this summer, change via trade is the only other alternative. Purely on speculation, acquiring yet another left-handed defenseman in Falk may suggest a preface before some sort of transaction with another club. Mind you, all top-8 defensemen listed above must pass through waivers next season if demoted to the AHL. Of the 5 left-handed defensemen to be traded, don't be surprised to see Michael Del Zotto get shipped off, perhaps for a forward with similar salary ($2.55 mil/yr) and 1 or 2 years left on his contract.

   3) What are the 2014-15 ramifications of this roster? One year from now, NY will have many decisions to make as a plethora of significant contracts expire. For the sake of example, let's assume  the salary cap rises to an even $65 million for 2014-15. How does the current top-25 look?

2014 Off-Season

Hagelin (1.875)*------ Stepan (3.300)*-------- Nash (7.800)
Kreider (RFA) -------- Brassard (RFA) ----- Callahan (UFA)
Zuccarello (1.875)*-- Richards?(6.667) ----- Dorsett (1.633)
Pyatt (UFA) ----------- Boyle (UFA) ------- Asham (UFA)
Haley (UFA) ---------- Powe (UFA) ----- Newbury (UFA)

McDonagh (3.333)*------- Girardi (UFA)
Staal (3.975) ------------- Stralman (UFA)
Del Zotto (RFA) -------- Eminger*(0.925)
Moore (RFA) / Falk (0.875)*

Lundqvist (UFA) / Biron (UFA)

   Yikes, that $32.26 million (49.6% of Salary Cap) tied up in 6 forwards, 4 defensemen & no goalies. It leaves, for the sake of this example, $32.74 million to spend on 9 forwards, 4 defensemen & 2 goalies within the guesstimated '13-'14 salary cap. However, keeping in mind next June is the final window of potential amnesty buyouts, we will assume C Brad Richards is amnestied in June 2014. Now there's approximately $25.6 million to spend on 10 forwards, 4 defensemen, & 2 goalies. 

Estimated Contract Value in Summer 2014
UFA - H. Lundqvist -------------------- $8.333 million/year
UFA - R. Callahan --------------------- $4.333 million/year
UFA - D. Girardi ----------------------- $4.000 million/year
RFA - D. Brassard --------------------- $3.667 million/year
RFA - M. Del Zotto -------------------- $2.800 million/year
UFA - 3rd Line Center ----------------- $2.750 million/year
UFA - A. Stralman --------------------- $2.400 million/year
RFA - C. Kreider ----------------------- $1.667 million/year
UFA - B. Boyle/4th Line Center ------ $1.750 million/year
RFA - J. Moore ------------------------- $1.000 million/year
UFA - M Biron/Backup Goalie ------- $0.800 million/year
UFA - A. Asham/4th Line Wing ------ $0.750 million/year
UFA - T. Pyatt/4th Line Wing -------- $0.750 million/year
UFA - M. Haley/4th Line Wing ------ $0.750 million/year
UFA - D. Powe/4th Line Center ------ $0.750 million/year
UFA - K. Newbury/4th Line Wing --- $0.750 million/year
10 Forwards + 4 Defensemen + 2 Goalies = $37.25 million

   Unfortunately, based on a very speculative guesstimation on the players' respective contract values for next summer, it's highly unlikely everyone important can be retained, even if that was Sather's hypothetical plan or desire. By my arithmetic, NY would need a salary cap of $76.67 million to retain this summer's top-25 roster spots next summer. Although, granted, a salary cap spike into the early $70 millions in 2014-15 is not out of the question at all.

   In other words, yet another Glen Sather trade of great importance is almost certainly bound to happen in the next calendar year. Unless the NY Rangers are confident in the current top-25 roster spots, one would think a trade this summer is probable, and a trade before July 1st, 2014 is a near lock to happen.

   Finally, with the 2013 NHL Entry Draft wrapping up Sunday, let's look at the 2014 & 2015 Draft picks NY Rangers currently have, which can obviously be used as currency in potential future trades:

2014 NHL Entry Draft Picks Held By NY Rangers
1st Round Pick    
2nd Round Pick*    
3rd Round Pick
4th Round Pick
5th Round Pick**
5th Round Pick***
6th Round Pick
7th Round Pick****

2015 NHL Entry Draft Picks Held By NY Rangers
1st Round Pick
2nd Round Pick
3rd Round Pick
4th Round Pick
5th Round Pick
5th Round Pick
6th Round Pick
7th Round Pick

* (to be sent to San Jose should F Ryan Clowe re-sign in NY this summer)
** (to be sent to San Jose should F Ryan Clowe NOT re-sign in NY)
*** (Florida Panther's Pick acquired in 2012 Casey Wellman trade)
****(to be sent to San Jose contingent upon an unknown condition)

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