The New York Rangers need to create salary-cap space and three players stand out above the rest via a potential moving off-Broadway.
The buyout cleared up just enough space for the Rangers to get back under the salary cap. However, their work is not done yet.
As it stands right now, the Rangers still need to re-sign restricted free agents Brendan Lemieux and Tony DeAngelo. According to CapFriendly, the Rangers just have barely over $1 million in cap space. Some of the players there will have their contracts buried in the minors, like Brendan Smith and Matt Beleskey. But if the Rangers want to bring the two youngsters back, they still need to make another trade.
Here are three Rangers who can be cap casualties before the season begins.
A roll player with a $4 million contract and one year left, Vladislav Namestnikov should be an easy choice for a cap casualty. Last season, Namestnikov scored 11 goals and notched 20 assists for 31 points in 78 games. His career-high is only 48 points two seasons ago when he came to New York midseason after a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
While it would be tough for Namestnikov to crack the top six forwards, he can still command a presence on the ice with his hustle. If any contending team is looking for someone to add a little more depth and heart to their bottom-six, then Namestnikov can be the answer. The Rangers can send him to a contender for a draft pick.
Also entering his contract year, Ryan Strome has a $3.1-million cap hit. He struggled with the Edmonton Oilers after the New York Islanders sent him there for Jordan Eberle. However, once Strome came to the Rangers in a trade, he began to find his game again.
In 63 games with the Blueshirts, Strome posted 33 points, 18 goals, and 15 assists to be exact. Even more impressive was his shooting percentage at 22.5%. Like Namestnikov, Strome is a good role player and the Rangers can get a draft pick for him to free up room. Because that shooting percentage is going to be tough to duplicate, the Rangers could potentially get a higher return for Strome than they would for Namestnikov.
Just like Namestnikov and Strome. Chris Kreider is entering his contract year. He has the highest cap space of the three at $4.6 million. Last year, Kreider finished one point shy of tying his career-high with 52. He did suffer a lower-body injury that hindered his performance late in the season.
Kreider’s name has been linked to trade rumors for a while. He was almost traded to the Colorado Avalanche the night of the Draft. Because Kreider has been a top-six forward for most of his career, he can bring the Rangers their highest return. However, the return here would be draft picks because the Blueshirts don’t want to take up more cap space unless it’s extending DeAngelo or Lemieux.
Assuming the Rangers don’t have an extension lined up for Kreider after this season, a couple of conditional picks and maybe a prospect would be a good return for him.
Those are three potential cap casualties that the Rangers can make in order to free up more salary-cap space. DeAngelo and Lemieux are young guys that the Rangers brought in to be competitive for the future. After the moves the Rangers made this offseason, the future might very well be right now. Jeff Gorton and company need to make a move soon to get the two of them new contracts.