Cap. A word that to most people will make you think about baseball games or water bottles. Only to Jeff Gorton, it can be a word that causes you to lose sleep at night! Hours of wrestling around in his bed, only to realize that what may appear to be a daunting problem to him, hardly ever crosses the mind of the average Ranger fan. You see, there are two different sides of hockey that we tend to see separately. You have the game itself; where each team puts everything they have on the ice in an attempt to win. Then you have the business aspect of the game; where relationships and loyalty possess no value in the eyes of businessmen. In the complex world of The Rangers cap situation, money, contracts, and signings, all play a huge role in determining The New York Ranger’s budget.
For The New York Rangers, that budget is ever-changing as we near the upcoming season. Which raises questions like “what does the Rangers cap space look like”, and, “what can they do with the remaining money to become successful?
Where They Stand
As of now, The Rangers are standing relatively strong with their cap space and signings. Recently, The Rangers re-signed Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, and Brendan Lemieux. A big contributor that helped them bring back these great players was the ability of Gorton to anticipate the future. Gorton traded Marc Staal, and bought out Henrik Lundqvist, knowing that in order to bring back these three players, Gorton needed to free some cap space somehow. As of now, the Rangers have a current projected cap space of a little over $4.8 million dollars. Considering that they re-signed many free agents on their team, they will no longer be outgoing and active on the free-agent market. After spending money on a handful of current players, in the future, the remaining money will go towards signing three pending free agents next season.
Although The Rangers no longer have to be concerned about re-signing players for this season, it is important to look at the next few years and what the team’s signings could look like. As many know, the Rangers are not known for signing huge free agents worth tens of millions of dollars. With the exception of Artemi Panarin, they usually follow a low risk, high reward concept when it comes to free agents. That being said, in the following seasons to come, I doubt the Rangers will go after anyone special. Especially since they will have to most likely re-sign crucial big-name players like Kaapo Kakko and Igor Sheshterkin.
As of now, I don’t think the Rangers have any real concerns regarding cap space. At the end of this upcoming season, they will have around $11.3 million dollars left to go ahead and once again, re-sign key players. At the end of next season, the Rangers will have to decide which players they want to continue to see in a Blueshirts sweater. Guys like Pavel Buchnevich, Brett Howden, Filip Chytil, Julien Gauthier, and Igor Sheshterkin, will all have expired contracts at the end of the 2021-2022 season. I assume if Buchnevich and Sheshterkin re-sign and continue to have played well, they will most likely be looking for a long term contract and a solidified role on the team. As a result, The Rangers will have some big decisions to make regarding contracts. One factor that could prohibit The Rangers from spending big money is their “dead cap” scenario.
This means that The Rangers have $13 million dollars in dead cap space from the Henrik and Shattenkirk buyouts between this season and next season.
Due to this dead money, The Rangers have, and will not be able to pursue big-name players, since they are already paying off big named players contracts.
When you take everything into consideration, The Rangers are very close to where they want to be financially. They added outstanding players like Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba. They have talented young forwards like Kakko and Lafreniere. Along with cementing their goaltending dilemma with the buyout of Henrik Lundqvist. Ultimately, The Rangers roster is to the point where they no longer have a gaping hole in a certain position. My advice to Gorton would be to conserve your money, trust your prospects, and look for one last key to the puzzle.
I do believe that The Rangers could add one more top-line center to the mix. With the lack of depth down the middle, adding an experienced player who wouldn’t cost the price of an all-star, could be valuable for The Rangers. On the contrary, they do have an abundance of talented forwards including a former Cornell Hockey centerman, Morgan Barron. With such talented prospects, The Rangers are definitely one of the more confident organizations in their developing prospects.
Overall, Jeff Gorton has a lot of cards to play. As a manager, multiple options are usually a good thing. So long as he players his cards right, Gorton will be able to anticipate the path their team is going down like he has done before, while also managing their crunching cap space. Thus leading to a victorious Rangers team.