Although great to see the New York Rangers make a Stanley Cup Final run, it hurts more this offseason as all their RFA’s had strong regular seasons backed up with 13 playoff victories. Glen Sather knew the Rangers would not have much wiggle room with free agency after re-signing Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, and John Moore to new contracts. Danny Boyle was the only Rangers big splash, only to replace a loss left by Anton Stralman.
Kreider, Brassard, and Zuccarello all have arbitration dates set, the first one being on July 23rd and every few days onward from there. The Rangers will try to avoid these dates and get everyone under contract prior to then. Here is what each of the Rangers RFA’s contracts could look like:
Chris Kreider: $7.5 million over 3 years ($2.5 million cap hit)
Kreider only has 89 NHL games to his name so he doesn’t have much of a bargaining chip on his side. Coming off an entry-level deal, he is still young but is a big, strong, lightning-fast skater that has the potential to be a solid 30 goal scorer for the Rangers. A 3-year deal gives Kreider a chance to prove his worth and get himself a payout on his next contract. It would also allow the Rangers to sign him long-term at 26, still an RFA, when he is entering his prime and their cap situation is better.
Derick Brassard: $19 million over 4 years ($4.75 million cap hit)
Brassard made $3.2 million this past season and it just happened to be his 2nd-best season in terms of production in his career. He finished with a career high in goals scored (18), matched his 2nd-most assists he’s recorded in a season (27), and finished with his 2nd-highest points total (45) in a regular season. He is 27 years old and entering his UFA years, where he can soon go wherever he wants. The Rangers would be smart to lock him up for a few years now and see where he goes in the next few seasons under Alain Vigneault.
Mats Zuccarello: $18 million over 4 years ($4.5 million cap hit)
Zuccarello broke out for the Rangers this past season and certainly will get much more than the $1.15 million he made for it. He put up 59 points in 77 games, leading the team in scoring after he caught fire with Brassard and Benoit Pouliot. He is 26 and the Rangers don’t want to overpay him for a single good season, however, they also don’t want to sign him to a 1-year deal to then lose him as a UFA next season. Zuccarello said he was more concerned with length than money when it came to his next contract. Four years and a considerable raise should net Zuccarello at a fairly bargain price for the next few seasons if he can continue to do what he has previously.
John Moore: $2.5 million over 2 years ($1.25 million cap hit)
Moore is coming off his entry-level deal that he signed with Columbus and only has 29 points in 173 career games. He is a 3rd-pair defender so far in his time with the Rangers, but shows great speed, a booming shot, and good offensive instincts. If he can become more consistent he will see an even bigger raise in his next contract. The Rangers can determine that down the road when that time comes.
This will add $13 million to the cap, leaving only $1 million in space remaining. Tough to make moves with this type of money. Expect one of the kids to get a shot to fill out the remaining roster spot. Danny Kristo, Jesper Fast, Oscar Lindberg, and JT Miller will all get looks at camp to see if they can fit in Vigneault’s system. Plenty of work still to be done before next season.