Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Kreider, Hagelin & Stepan make Rangers a capologist's dream team

While the New York Rangers are probably focused on this year's Conference Final, I can't help but look ahead and see that they've got a very rosy cap situation for next year (assuming a new CBA is signed that doesn't shake things up too drastically). They have a number of key players who will still on entry-level deals:
  • Carl Hagelin: 1 more year at $875,000
  • Derek Stepan: 1 more year at $875,000
  • Chris Kreider: 2 more years at $1,325,000
  • Ryan McDonagh: 1 more year at $1,300,000

Having these guys locked in means you've got more jam to fill out the rest of your roster. Richards, Gaborik, Callahan and Dubinsky are an expensive group of forwards (those four have an average cap hit of $5.66m next year); Lundqvist will have a $6.875m cap hit.

Two years ago, the Blackhawks had to strip the depth out of their roster because they had too many guys coming up for new contracts right after they won the cup. If the Rangers win it all, they won't have the same fate. True, they might have to pay out some playoff bonuses and ship out one or two players, but by and large, their excellent core group will all be back for next year.

While I'm on the Rangers, I love their decision to sign Kreider for this year's run. Saying that they've 'burned a year' on his contract is nonsense. Having him for the playoffs means they have him for the most important part of the season. The team finished in first place - he couldn't have made them any better in the regular season. Now, he might be the little push to get them over the top, scoring vital points to help the Rangers win the first game of both the second and third rounds.

Yes, the Rangers could have gotten an extra year out of Kreider if they had signed him after the playoffs. While he hasn't shot the lights out, he's an improvement over alternatives like Zuccarello, Scott or others in the lineup. With the injury to Dubinsky, he's filled in admirably. Instead of giving more offensive minutes to a guy like Fedotenko, they haven't been caught short. For that reason, I believe they have more depth than the Kings, should they meet them in the finals. That small edge would make it all worth it.

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