This is going to be a difficult summer for many teams thanks to a salary cap which has risen by less than expected early in the year. For a team like the Edmonton Oilers, there’s a chance to land talent from a team in cap trouble.
Taking Advantage of Cap Hell is dedicated to looking at clubs reportedly in cap trouble and figuring out who might shake loose. Today we turn to a team that came up in this week’s mailbag: the New York Rangers.
Previously in this series:
The Depth Chart
We don’t know what upgrades New York might attempt to make in the offseason; I’ve assumed that all current unrestricted free agents are allowed to walk and employed cheap filler players to populate the bottom of the roster for the purposes of this scenario.
Here’s what next year’s team currently looks like.
Total Cap Hit: $62.6 million
Total Cap Space Remaining: $8.4 million (based on Gary Bettman’s latest estimate of a $71 million cap)
New York has four significant RFA’s, with Derek Stepan the most notable of a quartet that also includes Carl Hagelin, J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast.
Stepan is going to cost a lot to get under contract. The 24-year-old has emerged as New York’s top centre, he’s in the heart of his career and with his bridge deal now over New York has to buy up a bunch of unrestricted years or risk losing him.
A fun Oilers comparison is to Jordan Eberle. Eberle has 284 points in 356 games, while Stepan has 252 points in 362 games. Add in that Stepan is a tough minutes centre and one would think that Eberle money is reasonable compensation, though we also have to add in that the Rangers are buying up more unrestricted years and that Edmonton got a little trigger-happy on Eberle after a breakthrough 2011-12 campaign.
A deal in the $5.5 million range would be a big hometown discount for the Rangers. Something in the $6.0 million range is probably reasonable. Something in the $6.5 million range is entirely possible.
If we pencil in Stepan as a $6.0 million cap hit, that leaves just $2.4 million for the trio of Hagelin, Miller and Fast; Hagelin alone has a $2.25 million cap hit at present while Miller and Fast are both looking at raises coming out of their entry-level deals.
New York will need to make sacrifices.
Targets for Edmonton
Cam Talbot is an obvious target for Edmonton, and with just one year left on his deal prior to reaching unrestricted free agency he’s an obvious choice for New York to move. I like him as an option for Edmonton, and the acquisition price isn’t likely to be higher than a second-round pick. Dealing Talbot doesn’t fix the Rangers’ cap problems because he’s relatively cheap, but the Oilers could do something like dealing a third-round pick and Ben Scrivens while retaining 50 percent of Scrivens’ salary, which would clear $300,000 for New York. Alternatively, the Rangers could move Talbot and either promote promising goalie MacKenzie Skaspki or try and sign a veteran No. 2 on the cheap, thereby clearing between $500,000 and $750,000.
On defence, the Rangers won’t deal Ryan McDonagh, who is a massive bargain. I’d be very surprised if they dealt Marc Staal, either. Kevin Klein is basically their version of Mark Fayne, so that isn’t a fit for Edmonton. Keith Yandle is a pending UFA who will cost a lot to acquire from Edmonton’s persepctice and isn’t really a cap drain from New York’s; it would be a surprise if he was moved.
Dan Girardi is one of those guys New York probably doesn’t want to deal and Edmonton should have some reservations about anyway. From the Rangers’ perspective he’s part of the core and part of an effective top pairing. From Edmonton’s perspective he’s old and on a rich long-term deal that will be a challenge in later years, plus his performance away from McDonagh raises some doubts.
Dan Boyle’s interesting. Obviously, he’s not a long-term fit. But he has just one year left on his deal, long history with coach Todd McLellan and as a mentor/stop-gap on the right side he might be interesting to Edmonton next season. From New York’s perspective, the addition of Yandle adds a new power play point man and $4.5 million is a lot to pay for a guy who is a bit of a luxury on the current blue line.
Of the forwards, the one guy New York might not be able to afford who probably should be of interest to Edmonton is Carl Hagelin. He’s not big, but otherwise he’s pretty much a perfect fit. He’s lightning fast – Cogliano fast, even, and he’s not afraid to take or make a hit. He’s a responsible two-way guy and a key piece in the Rangers’ penalty kill. He has underrated offensive skill and is an excellent scorer at even-strength; over the past four years he’s been as likely to score in a minute of five-on-five play as Zach Parise or Joe Pavelski. At 26 years of age and with four seasons under his belt, he’s the kind of young veteran who is a perfect match for Edmonton’s core while delivering the speed, five-on-five scoring and defensive responsibility the team needs. He’d be a great fit behind Taylor Hall and Benoit Pouliot at left wing.
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