NHL Rumor Mill – March 27, 2020
Check out the latest Rangers off-season speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers face a daunting challenge to re-sign Tony DeAngelo this off-season. The 24-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights with 53 points in 68 games this season.
It could cost the Rangers at least $6 million on a long-term contract. The two parties could agree to a short-term bridge deal around $5 million per season. Failing that, DeAngelo could become the first Ranger in over a decade to file for arbitration, but that’s not an alternative favored by anyone.
A cap crunch is coming for the Rangers, with Jacob Trouba earning $8 million annually, Adam Fox due for a big raise down the road, and promising Nils Lundkvist within their system. If signing DeAngelo proves too difficult, Brooks suggested shopping him for a legit top-nine forward with top-six potential.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers have over $67 million invested in 15 players for next season. Assuming the cap remains at $81.5 million, a $6-million annual average value for DeAngelo will eat up almost half of their roughly $14 million in cap space.
If they can find a way to shed the final season of Henrik Lundqvist‘s contract (or a significant chunk of it), it would free up room for DeAngelo’s new deal. Still, it might also be a good idea to sell high on DeAngelo if they’re confident Trouba will improve, Fox won’t regress, and a promising youngster like Lundkvist can make an easy transition to the NHL.
Brooks also reported there was some discussion within the Rangers front office if they would be better off with a prototypical north-south forward (like Columbus’ Josh Anderson) rather than a finesse-oriented one like Pavel Buchnevich. While the 24-year-old winger surfaced in trade speculation, the Rangers weren’t close to moving him.
A primary reason is his compatibility with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider on and off the ice. He also reached career highs this season in assists (30) and points (46).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Buchnevich also has another season remaining on his contract with an affordable $3.25-million AAV. They can afford to hang onto him for another season and see if that chemistry with Zibanejad and Kreider continues to flourish.
Brooks reports Jesper Fast‘s future with the Blueshirts is in doubt. The 28-year-old winger will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. Management had preliminary discussions with Fast’s camp before last month’s trade deadline but failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension.
A lower-than-projected salary cap for next season means fewer dollars for the Rangers, but also for other clubs, which could make it difficult for Fast to find better options elsewhere. Brooks speculates the Rangers could circle back to Fast once the fate of this season is decided.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Re-signing RFAs like DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux, and Alexandar Georgiev could leave the Rangers with little room to retain Fast. Unless, of course, they find a way to shed Lundqvist’s contract.