Check the bottom for the summation
Currently the NHL salary cap is a whopping $73 million dollars. A lot of teams have been using LTIR, buried cap hits, or buyouts to get underneath that number (See: Penguins, Pittsburgh) so the cap going up will only help teams. It may doom them to over-pay for some guys but in general it will be helpful.
The Rangers haven’t had cap issues this year but have in the past. They had to buy-out Brad Richards a few years ago to take adv of a one-time buy-out clause)
This year the blue-shirts have had an up and down year, mainly when their defense breaks down or they can’t get their speed game going. This is a team built on speed, quickness, and scoring goals off the rush. This strategy actually puts a lot of pressure on the defense because forwards, even though they back-check, are still focused on getting out and running.
So if we look at the current team what do we see?
The team sits right now at a projected $71.7MM cap hit for the season. We will use that number as a baseline even though the team as currently constructed has a cap hit of $74.8MM. (We are carrying extra skaters right now because of injuries so the numbers differ)
Forwards (all info from Capfriendly.com)
Currently our Forward group has a cap hit of $39.95 MM
Nash, Stepan, Kreider, Zucc, Miller, and Hayes all are set for next year with Grabner possibly being grabbed by Vegas. Let’s assume his cap hit though because we would have to find a replacement and he may not even be taken.
Zibanejad will get a big raise too. Let’s call it a $6MM contract for 6 years, just like Stepan’s deal.
Then we have Glass and Pirri who won’t be returning but we need a replacement so let’s guess 900k each.
Peumpel probably stays at 900k
Lindberg gets a raise to 900k
Buchnevich and Vesey are still on rookie contracts so that makes things clear from that perspective as well.
So that in total brings our cap hit for forwards to 43.125MM. We need to back out those that won’t be on the roster. So we can take off another $1.8MM since we at most will carry 13 forwards not the 15 we do now.
That knocks the total down to $41.325MM. This number may be even less but let’s be conservative.
Defense and Goaltending
Goaltending: Currently at $9.5MM and we can safely assume that for next year. Any backup/call-up will command that much and Raanta may get taken by Vegas
Defense needs some work
Staal, Girardi, McD, Klein, Holden, and Skjei are all signed past this year. Smith is not and Kampfer/Clendening due is not.
Right now our cap hit from the defense is $25.325MM. This is inflated because we are carrying 9 defenseman. At most we will carry 7, but if we carry 7 that means we will drop a forward down and clear up cap space. For simplicity let’s assume we are going to carry 6 defenseman next year(since we assumed we are carrying an extra forward)
These will be 5 of the 6 with associated cap hit:
Klein or Smith: $2.9 (using Klein as a comp. We could trade Klein and sign Smith for the same amount but for this exercise let’s go with Klein’s cap hit)
Girardi or Staal: One will be bought-out. The other won’t. Buying Girardi out will cost a combined $8.311MM. Buying Staal out would cost a combined $7.6MM
Let’s use the $8.311MM number to be more conservative.
That gives us a grand total of $18.486MM for 5 defenseman.
In total that gives the Rangers a total projected cap hit of $69.311MM with space for 1 more defenseman.
You know what that means? Kevin Shattenkirk could sign for $6.5MM and the total cap hit for the team would be $75.811MM
Now there are ways to get even more space. If Raanta/Klein(doubtful)/Grabner/Fast get picked by Las Vegas and their replacement costs less than there would be more space.
If the Rangers buy-out Staal instead of Girardi that would open up some more space.
If the 13th forward/7th defenseman makes less than the current estimate of 900k we will have a little bit more space.
The Rangers could also have less space. A bigger contract for Zibanejad. A contract for Brendan Smith. A bigger contract for Jesper Fast/Lindberg. All of these would limit cap space.
Including a raise to $6MM for Zibanejad the Rangers should have room to sign Shattenkirk for $6.5MM at the estimated $75.5-$76MM cap ceiling next year.
12 Forwards: $40.425MM
Defense: Conservatively $24.986
Extra Skater: $0.9MM
Total $75.811 MM