Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Joe Sudburg,
The New York Rangers were one game away from back-to-back Stanley Cup appearances before being upended by the Tampa Bay Lightning in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals, a game that the Rangers had everything going for them prior to the puck dropping.
With the support of the Madison Square Garden fans and Henrik Lundqvist’s stellar Game 7 record, it was almost expected to see the Rangers get another shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup. But the night belonged to the Lightning, who moved on to the Stanley Cup Final where they would lose to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
So the window question, whether it's wide open or closing, is legitimate for the Rangers. How many chances does a team get before the bottom falls out? Does getting close put even more pressure on the Rangers to win the Stanley Cup this season?
Vigneault understands the queries, but he's not concerned with them because he sees the Rangers as a contender regardless of what they have done, or not done.
"We signed most, if not all, of our core guys to pretty good contracts as far as length, so we have to believe that these guys are going to give us good years," Vigneault said. "Are we in our window, and how many years is that window? We're a good team. I'm going to let the experts decide if we're in the window or not."
The Rangers should be in their window for the reasons Vigneault outlined, and many others. They should see themselves as contenders because their core is intact and in its prime.
Henrik Lundqvist will turn 34 this season but should be able to maintain his status as an elite goalie for several more seasons because of the shape he stays in and the way he maintains his body and mind throughout the season. He is entering the second year of a seven-year contract.
Defenseman Ryan McDonagh is a 26-year-old captain with four years remaining on his contract. Defenseman Marc Staal is 28 and entering the first year of a six-year contract extension. Defenseman Dan Girardi is 31 and has five years left on his contract.
from Andrew Gross of The Record,
Not to be an alarmist, but next summer also promises to put the squeeze on the Rangers.
The Rangers and Stepan avoided arbitration on Monday as the No. 1 center agreed to a six-year, $39 million deal with an average cap figure of $6.5 million that leaves the team with approximately, $400,000 in cap space under the $71.4 million ceiling.
There are no projections yet what the cap will be for 2016-17.
But with Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller slated to be restricted free agents, next summer also figures to be a costly one for the Rangers, especially with all three arbitration eligible.
Keeping a core group together in the financial minefields of a salary-capped NHL is a tough tightrope to walk and there are casualties. This summer, it was Carl Hagelin, an RFA dealt to the Ducks in order to free space to re-sign Stepan.
Team president Glen Sather, still the general manager at the time of the trade, told the speedy left wing it was a sad day for the organization in having to deal him.
A likely departure next summer will be defenseman Keith Yandle, who cost Sather a first-round pick and top prospect Anthony Duclair on March 1. Yandle is working on the last season of a five-year, $26.25 million deal with a cap hit of $5.25 million. The Rangers can afford him now because only half of his cap figure counts against the Rangers, the other half is charged to his previous team, the Coyotes.
New York Rangers release is below...
Stepan's arbitration hearing is schedule for Monday, July 27th.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Salary arbitration filings create deadline-driven negotiations, and so there is still time for the Rangers and Derek Stepan to strike a deal prior to Monday’s scheduled hearing, as Chris Kreider, Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky all did on the mornings of their respective scheduled hearings and as Derick Brassard did on the eve of his last summer.
But at this point, with a wide gulf separating the parties, it’s more a question of whether the Blueshirts will decide to go for a one- or two-year arbitration award than whether the club and the 25-year-old center will be able to hammer out a long-term agreement within the next 72 hours.
The Rangers, who have the option, must declare by Saturday, when the club and player submissions are due. The decision will rest on management’s evaluation whether Stepan’s trade value would be higher on a hypothetical one- or two-year contract. Stepan is not eligible to become an unrestricted free agent until 2017.
Martin St. Louis talks to reporters for the first time since announcing his retirement from professional hockey. In Part 1, St. Louis explains his decision to retire after 16 NHL seasons and talks about how much he enjoyed his time in New York with the Rangers.
Watch part one below and parts two and three here.
from Sean Hartnett of CBSNewYork,
Initially, it was thought that the Rangers would be able to lock their 25-year-old alternate captain into a long-term deal slightly above $6 million annually. Buffalo giving a comparable center in O’Reilly crazy money raises Stepan’s asking price.
Stepan is an upward-trending star who is just breaking into his prime years. He has averaged 0.78 points per game over the past three seasons and has scored his share of memorable playoff goals. The question is: How far do the Rangers go to satisfy Stepan?
He is definitely worth between $6 and $6.5 million million per year. Anything above $6.5 million is an overpayment. He’s not worth Nicklas Backstrom or Anze Kopitar money. A demand of a long-term deal above $7 million AAV could force the Rangers to do the unthinkable — trade Stepan away.
Finding takers for third-pair defenseman Kevin Klein (three years, $2.9 million AAV) and/or fourth-line winger Tanner Glass (two years, $1.45 million AAV) could help alleviate the cap squeeze. Demoting Glass to the minors would force the Rangers to carry $500,000 in dead cap space, but would free up $950,000 of cap room.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
It was Christmas in July for Derek Stepan but a lump of coal in Jeff Gorton’s stocking, this gift of Buffalo’s seven-year, $52 million ($7.5 million per) extension to Ryan O’Reilly that kicks in next season and will keep on giving headaches to the Rangers and their newly installed general manager.
In a flash, Friday’s agreement between the needy Sabres and the 24-year-old center they obtained from Colorado last weekend blows to smithereens any hope the Blueshirts had of signing the 25-year-old Group II free agent center Stepan to a long-term deal in the range of $6.2 million to $6.5 million per.
It likely means Stepan, whose numbers are superior to O’Reilly’s in every meaningful category other than faceoff efficiency, not only will file for salary arbitration by Sunday’s 5 p.m. deadline, but could be in line for a two-year award taking him to unrestricted free agency worth well over $7 million per.
via New York Rangers release,
Martin St. Louis, who totaled 391 goals and 642 assists for 1,033 points in 1134 regular season games spread over 16 National Hockey League seasons, announced his retirement from professional hockey today. St. Louis, who played right wing for the Calgary Flames (1998-2000), the Tampa Bay Lightning (2000-14), and the New York Rangers (2014-15), leaves the game having been named to seven NHL All-Star Games, while earning All NHL Second Team honors four times and All NHL First Team honors once.
“I have been blessed to play for 16 years in the NHL; it has been an amazing ride,” said St. Louis in making the announcement. “I would like to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers organizations and owners for providing me the opportunity to play the sport I love for so many years. I could have never played for so long or accomplished all that I have without the unwavering love and support from my wife, Heather, our three sons, Ryan, Lucas, and Mason, and my parents.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com