Photo: Hockey This Week
In case you missed it, Darren Dreger reported on TSN Insider yesterday that captain Ryan Callahan does not want seven years and $6 million, he wants $7 years at “between $6.5 million and $7 million.” Dreger is not one to really mess around when it comes to rumors either.
Now before I go into my spiel about negotiations, step one in the process, et cetera et cetera, let’s point out that this is just that: Step one in the process. Also, read this post.
All caught up? Relaxed a bit? Ok good. Let’s point out the specifics of this demand, and why it really shouldn’t be all that surprising to anyone. Remember, this is step one in the negotiations process.
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The two biggest UFAs
One of the concerns following the acquisition of Kevin Klein –and his $2.9 million cap hit for the next four seasons– is the payroll for next season. The Rangers are spending $2.9 million on what, at the moment is a bottom pairing defenseman. In the bang-for-your-buck era that is today’s NHL, that generally doesn’t bode well for a team. The issue is magnified for New York, as they have just 10 players under contract at $42 million. With the projected cap ceiling at $71 million, that leaves the Rangers with $24 million to dress a competitive roster.
There are three types of players heading into the offseason: Those that are signed, those that are RFAs, and those that are UFAs. Let’s break them down.
Signed (Cap Hit): Henrik Lundqvist ($8.5m), Rick Nash ($7.8m), Brad Richards ($6.67m), Ryan McDonagh ($4.7m), Marc Staal ($3.975m), Derek Stepan ($3.075m), Kevin Klein ($2.9m), Carl Hagelin ($2.25m), Derek Dorsett ($1.633m), Cam Talbot ($562k)
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With last night’s tough loss to St. Louis out of the way, the hockey world’s attention now turns to the much publicized “Stadium Series” games, starting this Saturday. This weekend’s festivities will see the Ducks and Kings face-off on Saturday at Dodger Stadium (with some of the ugliest unis going, by the way) while the Rangers will battle the Devils on Sunday at Yankee Stadium.
When the NHL announced that there would be five outdoor games in addition to the Winter Classic played this year, much of the reaction centered around some variation of “overkill”. This is a novelty concept that was charming with one game on New Year’s day, but would the concept be turned into a gimmick by playing this many games outside? I have to admit, I was skeptical.
The Rangers were the beneficiaries of two of the five Stadium Series games, against the Devils and Islanders, respectively. Personally, I was hoping Yankee Stadium’s big hockey reveal would come during a Winter Classic, but alas, it was not meant to be. The weirder part was that both of these games would feature the Rangers in road white. Read more »
Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial hockey rock, then you at least heard something about the Ray Emery/Braden Holtby incident from a few weeks back. For those of you who didn’t, here’s the short version: during a 7-0 drubbing of the Flyers at the hands of Washington, a scrum ensued down in the Caps’ end. Clearly frustrated, Ray Emery decided to skate the length of the ice and viciously pummel a clearly unwilling Braden Holtby. It was disgusting and deserved supplemental discipline. However, Brendan Shanahan was unable to cite authority in the rulebook granting him the right to impose further punishment on Sugar Ray.
Fast forward to last week, where it became known that the NHL powers-that-be were going to discuss the incident at the GM meetings in Toronto. The only hitch, they were talking about banning goalie fights. Wait, what?
Contrary to the title of this post, this piece actually has nothing to do with goalies. The only thing that makes goalies relevant to this discussion is that it’s the position Emery and Holtby happen to play, and the league is taking this ridiculous stance to solve the problem. So, let me get this straight: a willing combatant assaults a completely unwilling combatant, beats him senseless and the solution is, to ban goalie fighting? Read more »
Note: Sorry for no post this morning, there was a scheduling issue.
With both Arron Asham and Martin Biron assigned to the AHL yesterday, the Rangers cleared a total of $1.85 million in cap space ($925k a piece). Although their cap hits are higher (Asham – $1 million, Biron – $1.3 million), the “Redden Rule” means that they don’t get to bury the entire contract. Asham’s contract will remain with a $75k cap hit, and Biron’s with a $375k cap hit (unless he retires, then they get the full $1.3 million back).
With Talbot ($562,500) and Miller (approximately $894k) called up, the additional cap taken up is $1.45 million between the two. At the moment, the Rangers have saved about $400k in cap space. That could climb to $775k if Biron retires. Not exactly chump change.
There should be another roster move or two coming, as Carl Hagelin will need to come off LTIR. His $2.25 million will need to count towards the cap again when he returns.
For those that missed it, General Manager Glen Sather had some harsh words for holdout center Derek Stepan. Slats, in a rare moment, said that he doesn’t think [Stepan] is a big enough fool to think that he will sit out the year and it will do any good.” Naturally, that was the line that the media caught on to and ran with. The nugget right after –when Slats states that every player (forward) has signed a gap deal, and that what Stepan will get– is the more important bit. It confirms what we all know, but also puts a line in the sand in the negotiations.
First things first, Slats never called Stepan a fool. He chose his words carefully. Slats is also correct in the bridge deals, not in that every team should offer bridge deals, but in the manner that Slats approaches them. He is consistent. Every non-arbitration forward gets a bridge deal. Every single one. It’s consistency at its finest. Both Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan got paid, Dubinsky likely slightly overpaid, after their bridge deals. Callahan is the captain of the team too, and his bridge deal will likely be less than Stepan’s.
Some call what Slats said a desperation move. I call it a simple candid statement, used to send a message. Everyone else got one, you get one too. Get your head on straight and sign, and we will pay you oodles of money in two years if you continue to perform.
It signs the contract or else it gets the hose again.
Up until pre-season games start up in earnest, the fan focus around Rangerland will continue to be Derek Stepan’s unresolved contract situation. The boys around here have done a fantastic job covering the specifics, comparables and negotiating leverage surrounding the Blueshirt’s final RFA, but I wanted to examine a slightly different facet: the gaping hole in the CBA that lead to this situation to begin with.
The age in which a player signs his ELC will determine whether or not he is eligible for arbitration rights during his RFA years. Depending on how long the ELC is, a player could foreseeably have two years (though, usually just one) of RFA eligibility without receiving arbitration rights. This essentially means a player is allowed to seek “market” value (compared to other team-controlled players with no arbitration rights), but is still somewhat at the whim of the team’s valuation, with very little negotiating leverage. Read more »
Stepan > Kadri
In case you missed it, Nazem Kadri signed a two-year bridge deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs last night worth $2.9 million per season. Kadri has just 99 NHL games played –only one full season– and has a line of 23-37-63 over those 99 games. In his only full season, the lockout shortened season, Kadri put up 18-26-44. That 18-26-44 should look familiar, since it is the same line Derek Stepan put up last season. That should mean that Stepan’s market value is $2.9 million, right? Well, not exactly.
The problem is that Kadri has just one full year under his belt. He was bouncing between the AHL and NHL for the first two years of his pro career before that. Stepan cracked the roster immediately, and has three full years (without missing a game) under his belt. The point total for this year may have been the same, but Stepan has 212 NHL games played and a line of 56-84-140. That is an average of 0.66 P/G (1.91 P/60). Kadri’s average was 0.63 P/G (2.35 P/60).
Just an aside: I don’t know where I can find career –or even three-year average– P/60, which is the stat I wanted to use here. P/G isn’t terrible, but P/60 is a more accurate reflection. However, the point is still made. (Thanks George)
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The other day, I was reading one of my favorite goalie-related publications, InGoal Magazine. There was a fantastic article about some NHL tendys giving their thoughts on the new equipment sizing and some of the difficulties the changes pose. After reading the article and seeing some of the drastic reductions in size, I started thinking about the involvement of the Union and the type of representation that goalies are receiving during this type of transition.
There has been talk of allowing goalies up until the Olympic break to comply with the new rules, and further talk of revisiting the measurements in the off-season (not to see if they are effective, mind you, but to take another crack at reductions). After examining all the information from the article and investigating further into the compromise made with regard to the reduction formula, I arrived at the conclusion that goalies are not being advocated for properly in the new-NHL. Read more »
Money or success?
We knew this time was coming. Rangers’ fans knew that as the team’s window of contention began to open so would the period come where multiple essential Rangers would approach contract negotiation time. It leaves the Rangers in a sort of crossroads over the next twelve months.
With Derek Stepan still unsigned, Henrik Lundqvist, Dan Girardi and Ryan Callahan all approaching free agency, the absolute core of this team – Rick Nash aside – is in need of new deals. Whether the Rangers can afford to pay the going rate for all these players is questionable. Brad Richards’ uncertain future, the impending free agency of Anton Stralman, and a potential career year –in a contract year– for Derick Brassard also play roles in the questionable financial future for the Rangers.
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