Brendan Smith, Kevin Shattenkirk
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

The New York Rangers will have a second buyout opportunity with the announcement that two players are headed to salary arbitration.

Frank Curto

When the New York Rangers announced that Pavel Buchnevich and Jacob Trouba would be heading to salary arbitration, it came with another important piece of information.

The Blueshirts will have a second buyout window opportunity this summer.

The announcement in itself is not surprising. It was anticipated and welcomed news with the Rangers in the midst of a salary-cap conundrum. The team has just over $8 million available in cap space, with almost all of it destined to go to newly-acquired defenseman Trouba.

Trouba, 27, was acquired prior to the NHL Entry Draft that saw the team’s 20th overall pick and defenseman Neal Pionk sent to the Winnipeg Jets.

Trouba’s contract status was well known, but the concern grew once Jeff Gorton signed free agent Artemi Panarin to a seven-year deal on July 1. The cap space is now needed to be expanded, and since the Rangers didn’t execute a buyout prior to the NHL Draft, the only other way is to trade players without retaining salary for draft picks.

Buchnevich, 24, concluded his three-year contract that was signed in May 2016. He is coming off his best NHL season with the Blueshirts, netting 21 goals along with 17 helpers for 38 points.

The Russian player has struggled with consistency, most notably under former head coach Alain Vigneault.

Now, the Rangers have another avenue to pursue to help facilitate contracts should they use the buyout.

The collective bargaining agreement has a breakdown of all of the aspects of salary arbitration, with the most important listed here:

  • Arbitration Ruling:
    • Player & Club can settle on a deal at any point prior to the official ruling.
    • Once the hearing has taken place, the Salary Arbitration decision must be issued by email within 48 hrs of the closing.
    • Arbitration awards can only be 1 or 2 years in length.
    • The party (Player or Club) who did not elect for Arbitration decides on the awarded term.
    • Players who are in their final year Restricted Free Agency are only entitled to a 1-year term.
    • A club cannot walk away from a Club elected Arbitration Settlement.
New York Rangers

Logical Buyout

If the Rangers decide to use a buyout, the organization has to be smart; the length and amount that player would be owed have long-term effects. The first year of a buyout is normally not too harsh and would help the club financially with the salary cap.

The second year is normally a big cap hit. In the instances of the two most rumored players to receive a buyout, Brendan Smith and Kevin Shattenkirk, the former appears to be the best option.

Smith has two years remaining and a buyout would double the term to fours years. This year, his cap hit would be only $970,833, but next season would be $3.145 million.

The same scenario exists for Shatty. This year, the team would pay him $1.44 million, and next season, an enormous $6.083 million. He currently has two years remaining on his contract and is due $6.650 million each year.

Thanks to the arbitration filing, regardless of player or team elected, the Rangers have options and should buy out Smith. This would make the most financial sense for the club and would be the easiest to work with as the team is loaded with a defenseman at the NHL and AHL levels.

At the end of the day, the Blueshirts will have to sign Buchnevich and Trouba, along with Brendan Lemieux and Anthony DeAngelo.

The Rangers have not had a player go through the arbitration process since Nikolai Zherdev in 2009 when the Blueshirts turned down his arbitration award, ultimately making him an unrestricted free agent.

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