My name is Rick Nash. I am very good at hockey.
The quiet season is well and truly underway but that doesn’t mean the hockey world is standing still. Let’s have a look around the league and have an impromptu musings shall we?
The Capitals signed Mikhail Grabovski this week and it’s a good move. They needed to add some talent and he’s a solid center. It’s incredible to think the Leafs bought a player out less than 18 months after giving him a long term extension. With losing Mike Ribeiro the Caps were in danger of going backwards, Grabovski helps a lot for $3m.
I keep reading that the Rangers are in danger of losing Derek Stepan? Calm down folks. There is no urgency here. He has no negotiating power and it would take an over-the-top offer sheet for the Rangers not to match. The lack of a new deal is no indicator of the importance Stepan has, merely that it’s not a critical priority.
My first prediction for the new season: With one year as a Ranger under his belt, with a full camp, Rick Nash will top 40 goals. In a new system that should give him more offensive zone starts there’s no reason Nash shouldn’t reach that number again. If Nash is healthy and has support from his line mates he should reach that figure. He was close last year (on pace for 39). With Callahan and Hagelin missing to begin, he’ll be needed more than ever.
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The Rangers would love the Dallas Stars version of Brad Richards to return.
Perhaps the smallest but most intriguing piece of news that has come out of Ranger land in recent days is that of Brad Richards already spending significant time on the ice ahead of the up coming season. Last season Richards wasn’t prepared (at all) for the abbreviated, condensed season and it showed all year long. The Rangers did fine without a strong season from Richards but it goes without saying that a well rested, fully functioning Richards makes the Rangers much stronger and more dangerous.
The fact Richards has been skating for the best part of a month is fantastic news. It indicates he is aware of the necessity of being in top shape in a critical juncture in his career and it indicates he’s willing to do whatever it takes to rebound. Barring an MVP like season it is likely Richards is heading into his last year as a Ranger but a good year for Richards means he could make himself attractive to other teams. The free agency market is not looking strong next summer and a 70+ point season from Richards would likely give him another chance to cash in.
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Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan, and Ryan Callahan have all been invited to US Olympic Camp, to be held in the last week of August. Callahan, who could serve as one of the captains or alternates, is returning after earning a silver medal in the 2010 games. McDonagh and Stepan will by vying for their first Olympic appearance.
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
Despite coming in at 17th and 19th respectively on various prospect website rankings, the Rangers need not worry when it comes to the talent pipeline just now. Everyone assumes cap mathematics will be the driver behind letting Brad Richards go in twelve months time, and this is indeed true, but the Rangers are especially blessed with promising centers making their way up the system.
With Cristobal ‘Boo’ Nieves, the Rangers have a highly thought of prospect that had an exceptional first year in college in Michigan. They have the Swedish playoff MVP on his way in Oscar Lindberg, and they have a player in Michael St Croix that has been a dominant scorer in the WHL.
Without considering the obvious merits of a JT Miller, the promise (albeit perhaps a little further down the line) of Steven Fogarty, or a talented yet underachieving prospect such as Andrew Yogan, the Rangers don’t need to panic about letting Richards go, nor should they worry about filling his eventual departure through free agency.
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Stepan is the next to get locked up (Photo: UPI /John Angelillo)
In case you missed it this morning, the Rangers re-signed their single most important RFA, locking up Ryan McDonagh to a six-year deal at a cap hit of $4.7 million per season. In doing so, the Rangers got a bargain on McDonagh, who is now signed until he is 30 years old, locking up three all important UFA years at a very reasonable price. With him on board, the next step for the Rangers is to lock up their #1 center: Derek Stepan.
In June, I looked at Stepan’s pending contract and compared his current career path to that of Claude Giroux. The comparison isn’t made at their current NHL level/production, but where they both were at this point in their careers. Without re-hashing the entire post (if you haven’t read it yet, you should), their career paths are shockingly similar. This isn’t to say Stepan should get Giroux’s absurd $66.2 million over eight years, but it is to say that Stepan should look to get Giroux’s second contract – three years at around $3.75 million per year.
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Ryan McDonagh will likely carry a cap hit between $4 million and $4.5 million
The decision to keep Brad Richards for another season left the New York Rangers without much wiggle room under the salary cap. Sure, New York is currently $14 million under the $64.3 million cap ceiling, but much of that will go toward retaining restricted free agents: Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, Mats Zuccarello and Justin Falk.
According to Dave’s projections, we can expect McDonagh’s new cap hit to come in around $4 million to $4.5 million and Stepan’s to be between $3.5 million and $4 million. It’s probably a safe guess that Hagelin, Zuccarello and Falk will eat up a minimum of another $4 million. So even on the low side of things, the Rangers will need at least $11.5 million to keep their team intact. Read more »
As expected, the Rangers have not sent a qualifying offer to injured defenseman Michael Sauer. The other four key RFAs (Ryan McDonah, Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin) all received QO’s, in addition to the newly acquired Justin Falk. To re-hash the QO amounts:
- Ryan McDonagh: $826,875
- Derek Stepan: $826,875
- Carl Hagelin: $660,000
- Mats Zuccarello: $735,000
- Justin Falk: $866,250
By offering the others QO’s, the Rangers retain their rights, and qualify for draft pick compensation should they lose anyone to an offer sheet. Of these players, only Derek Stepan is not eligible for arbitration, and only Falk is likely to sign without a significant raise. By not qualifying Sauer, he becomes a UFA.
In the AHL, only Brandon Mashinter was provided with a qualifying offer. Jyri Niemi and Nick Palmieri were not qualified, making them UFAs.
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Despite a solid first season on Broadway, Rick Nash surely did not reach the heights his talent demands, nor did he become the irresistible force many anticipated. Not over a full season anyway. Some critics will argue that John Tortorella’s system stifled players such as Rick Nash (though the powerplay certainly didn’t help his production) but no one will argue that Alain Vigneault puts his key offensive players in the right situations to produce to their potential.
As has been pointed out over the internet – almost to death – the Sedin twins and Alex Burrows were consistently among league leaders in offensive zone starts under Vigneault. It can be assumed Rick Nash and maybe Derek Stepan will be similar benefactors in New York. Can we therefore assume much better numbers from Rick Nash? Nash is expected to be the leader of this offense and that won’t change with a new coaching staff. However with an improved powerplay, with more offensive zone starts, and with more puck possession and creative license, Nash should produce more.
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In case you missed it last night, Henrik Lundqvist did not win the Vezina trophy for the second year in a row. Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets won the award, with Hank finishing in second place. Bob received 110 total points in the vote, while Hank nabbed 55 points.
For the other awards, Derek Stepan and Ryan Callahan finished eighth and ninth respectively for the Selke Trophy, and Callahan finished tenth for the Lady Byng.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The Rangers have a lot of work to do this offseason. In addition to addressing the glaring holes in the lineup, they need to do everything they can to re-sign their core RFAs (Ryan McDonagh, Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan). Of the three core RFAs, who are all about to receive their second NHL contracts, only Stepan is not eligible for arbitration. It’s unfortunate for Stepan, as he finished the season as the Rangers leading scorer. He loses a lot of leverage without arbitration.
Estimating Stepan’s contract is tough. The Rangers haven’t had to re-up a player on their second deal the season after he led the team in scoring. In fact, the closest situation the Rangers have had to the Stepan situation is Brandon Dubinsky’s second contract, and the only similarity there is that neither player is/was arbitration eligible. For this, we need to go to other organizations to determine market value. We don’t need to go far to estimate the Stepan contract. Philadelphia had a very similar situation with Claude Giroux after the 2010-2011 season.
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