Monday, June 20, 2011

Rangers Summer Salary Cap: Who Counts And How Much Against It

Jesse Spector of The New York Daily news tweeted the details of the Rangers summer roster in terms of which players count against the summer cap and for how much.  
    • Notes: Salaries listed for the RFA's are just their qualifying offers and not what is being projected for their salaries next season.  Chad Kolarik total is actually the combination of charges for Kolarik, Newbury, Talbot and Grachev based on time in NHL this past season.
If the cap does go to $64 million as was reported earlier today, the Rangers would have approximately $15.5 million in space on the summer cap after counting the RFA qualifying offers.    Unlike Jesse, I am not counting Matt Gilroy and his $2.1 million qualifying offer because I do not expect him to be qualified at that large an amount, but the total for the other five RFA’s is $6.36 million.  That means the New York Rangers will approximately $22 million to sign the five RFA’s and chase Brad Richards over the summer. 

Twenty-two million is enough money to get the job done and the Rangers will also get help in September when they can LTIR Drury and send Redden down to the minors.  Being added onto the cap would potentially be a player like Tim Erixon ($1.75) who does not count against the summer cap since he did not play in the NHL at all last season.

Did Rafalski Retirement Force Lidstrom's Hand On Return To Red Wings?

Nicklas Lidstrom ranks amongst the greatest defensemen to ever play the game and if wants to continue doing it, then the Detroit Red Wings and the entire National Hockey League are honored to have it happen.  That is exactly what Lidstrom announced today in signing on to a one-year $6.2 million deal that bring him back to the Detroit Red Wings for his 20th NHL season.  

Lidstrom, 41, is coming off another outstanding season in which he had 16 goals and 46 assists in 82 games.  The season has him in Las Vegas for the NHL Awards this week as a nominee for his seventh Norris Trophy.  

At issue here is not that Lidstrom is coming back or even his ability to compete at the highest level for his position in the NHL.  The question in Lidstrom’s mind was about the ability to find the fire to play for another season.
"I wanted to make sure I found the motivation and I was ready to go through the workouts to get ready for next season," said Lidstrom.
With the announcement that he is coming back, apparently he found that fire was still there or at least enough to go again.  However, one has to wonder how much the retirement of fellow defensive stalwart Brian Rafalski had to do with Lidstrom deciding to give it another year.  Being the proud captain of the Red Wings leaves Lidstrom with the knowledge of just how much losing Rafalski and himself would damage the organization for next season.  It would impossible to replace one of the greatest defensemen ever, and a potential hall of fame defender in the same offseason.  To think that the retirement of Rafalski struck at the honor and loyalty of Lidstrom to his organization in coming back for another year is not a stretch.

Whatever the reason that Lidstrom is returning for his 20th NHL season, the fans around the NHL should understand just what a gift they are getting in watching one of the greats play another year.

Rumor: NHL Salary Cap $64 Million For 2011-12 Season?

According to Bob McKenzie it appears that the NHL salary cap will have an upper limit of $64 million and floor of $48 million.  Various numbers have been speculated about over the past few months in terms of where the cap would be for next season, but this is the highest of any of those that have come out so far.  If those numbers are what actually where the cap is for the 2011-12 season, then many teams will be gaining a huge amount of relief with the $4.6 million increase in the cap.  Combine that with the 10% allowance for overage in the summer and a team could have as much as $70.4 million in salary on the books before making moves to get under the ceiling.   

This news is welcomed for places like Philadelphia, Calgary, Pittsburgh, Chicago, San Jose, Boston, New Jersey and even the New York Rangers.  When you are willing to spend or have bad contracts that hamper your cap situation, increases like these are huge for the organization in attempting to compete for a championship.  

For other organizations this new might not be so welcomed.  Just as interesting as the teams that were right against the cap getting some breathing room for next season, is the amount of money that some teams who are well under the salary cap floor will have to spend to make it.  As helpful as this is to those who want to spend and compete, for those who don't want to or cannot afford to spend this is not what they want to hear.  If a team is already losing money the increase in the required amount they have to spend will only enhance those issues.

Rumor: Nikita Filatov Available For Low Return; Worth Game For Rangers?

The ability to acquire talent is something that every team must consider when the opportunity presents itself.  On natural talent alone, few if any prospects in the game today can match Nikita Filatov of the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Filatov was selected 6th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, but has failed to live up to the potential that made him be chosen that high over the past three years. 

The frustration with Filatov has gotten to the point where Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch speculated yesterday that Filatov could be had for as little as a fourth rounder or a middle-prospect.
And then there's Nikita Filatov, who is quickly running out of time to prove his NHL worthiness. If the right offer is made - a fourth-round draft pick, a middling prospect or an aged veteran - Filatov will be sent packing.
Filatov is not the first high pick to fail to make it from the Columbus organization and the question becomes whether the issue is with him or how they develop players.  The answer is probably that blame exists on both sides of that equation.  Should the Rangers take the gamble and deal for Filatov if he is available?

There is a reason that a player of Filatov's talent is potentially available at this kind of price and that is mainly about maturity and effort concerns.  When you are the Rangers and the identity of your team is built around effort, it is certainly an issue because Filatove could quickly end up on the bad side of coach John Tortorella.  The other side of that equation however is the price tag that Portzline is speculating, which makes the gamble that it could work intriguing.  While he does not fit the mold of players the Rangers have shaped the team around and there are questions as to whether he can make it in the NHL, if you can trade from the massive defensive depth in the minors to acquire a talent like this, then the gamble is something worth doing.

A deal for Filatov would allow the Rangers to bring in a first round talent, at wholesale prices, and hope that their system is able to get the most out of the talent.  This is not trading a young, solid defender for Zherdev from a few years ago, but it is somewhat similar to dealing for Wolski as the discount price made the potential reward very intriguing.  There is no talk of giving up a piece that likely ever makes it in the NHL for the Rangers.  Trading from a position of strength, like the Rangers defensive prospects, in order to gamble on elite forward talent, which the organization lacks, is a smart move.  The comparison between the upside and downside to a move like this is a no brainer as while Filatov may has holes in his game, and may never reach his potential, the reward far outweighs what the team is risking.