Henrik Lundqvist 3

Putting On The Thinking Cap

With the announcement today that the Rangers have signed Henrik Lundqvist to a contract extension, the Rangers now have a better sense of what they might be able to take on contract wise at the deadline and for next season over the Summer. Reports on the deal (from USA Today and FAN590 in Toronto) suggest that the cap hit for Lundqvist’s contract will be $6.875M per year (the average of the $41.25M over 6 years), when this is added to the contracts for Chris Drury and Scott Gomez, we have a good sense of where the franchise is heading.

At this stage of the season, the Rangers have about $2-3M of contract space they can play with. The challenge of course is that also have about $3M in potential bonus money to pay out to Dan Girardi and Brendan Shanahan. Under the CBA rules, any portion of that bonus money can be deferred to next season, with the associated impact on next year’s cap figure. Specifically the rules allow for 35+ year old veterans on one year contracts and players on entry level contracts such as Dan Girardi to have the cap hit for bonus money deferred to the following season.

While this does provide the Rangers with some options, perhaps the better option would be to move one or more of their higher priced players this season, a list that includes Jaromir Jagr ($4.9M), Martin Straka ($3M), Paul Mara ($3M) or Marek Malik ($2.5M). Of course moving these players is not going to be easy, and the Rangers will need NHL players in return.

The simplest option would be for the Rangers to make a trade for a similar player and contract with another team. The opportunity to make such a trade is probably minimal at this stage of the season, with most teams who are ready to become sellers, looking to build for the future (i.e. younger players, prospects and picks) and most teams who’re looking to add veterans, offering up those very same packages of picks, players and prospects.

Perhaps the exception to this rule would be those teams who are looking to unload underperforming veterans signed to larger contracts, with of course the associated risk transferred to the team accepting the contract. This scenario also brings up the impact to the Rangers for the next season…

Looking ahead to 2008-09, the Rangers now have 10 of their current roster of 23 players under contract. Specifically they including the following players and their associated cap hits:

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