The Rangers, The Salary Cap and the Fear of the Next CBA : Ranger Nation – The ultimate stop for New York Rangers fans! - Ranger Nation

The Rangers, The Salary Cap and the Fear of the Next CBA

It’s a bit too early, especially with this current squad that is on its way to some serious success (!) but I thought I’d have a brief look at next year’s cap situation for your New York Rangers. As of now, there are thirteen players signed for next season with a total cap hit of 47 million. Included in this figure is the cap charge of 1.667 million for Chris Drury, who was bought out by the team this past June. 17 million dollars under the current NHL salary cap of just over 64 million for this current season, seems like plenty doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and the NHL is set to expire on September 15, 2012 and it seems highly doubtful that the salary cap will remain that high for next season.

It’s difficult to predict what changes will occur that will affect the Rangers directly in the new CBA, but, it’s easy to imagine that no changes will be positive news as far as the franchise or its fans are concerned. Last season, as well as this current season, the team has hidden the horrendous 6.5 million cap hit of unfortunate free agent signee Wade Redden in Connecticut of the AHL. Beyond this season, Redden still has two more years left to go on the 6 year 39 million dollar deal he signed on July 1, 2008. It has been rumored that in the new CBA, the owners will try to eliminate cap circumventing loopholes like this that allow the Rangers to rid themselves of one of Glen Sather’s greatest mistakes. The Rangers would be in a heap of trouble next season if the cap hit of 64 million was in fact lowered and they were actually forced to keep Redden, or at the very least, buy him out.

Under the current agreement, the Rangers can buy out the rest of Redden’s contract next summer for substantial cap hits the next 4 seasons. What Rangers fans need to hope for is that the new agreement will offer teams a “buyout amnesty period” which occurred when the current expiring CBA was signed that ended the lockout which canceled the 2004-05 NHL season. That amnesty period thankfully allowed the Rangers to buyout Bobby Holik’s enormous contract without it counting towards the salary cap. The signing of Holik, like post lockout free agent contracts given out to Scott Gomez, Chris Drury and Redden are some of Sather’s worst moments as Rangers boss. Hopefully the new CBA will enable him to bail us all out of Wade Redden once and for all. We can only hope.

The Rangers have some players on the current roster whose contracts are ending after this season who will then become Unrestricted Free Agents. Set to become UFA’s next summer are forwards Sean Avery, Wojtek Wolski, Ruslan Fedotenko, Erik Christensen, Brandon Prust and Andre Deveaux, defensemen Steve Eminger and Jeff Woywitka and backup goaltender Martin Biron. Considering the lack of goaltending depth in the Rangers system at this point, Biron would seem to be the priority to be re-signed amongst this group. Currently signed to a cap hit of 875K, the Rangers would be well advised to try and sign him to an extension beyond this season as soon as possible. The other priority in the group would be forward and fan favorite Brandon Prust. He is a tireless worker and as tough as nails, signing Prust to something like the 3 year given to Brian Boyle this past summer, a deal between 1.5 million and 2 million a year would be a great move by Sather and the sooner the better. Other than Biron and Prust, I don’t see a lot of names in that list of potential UFA’s that are must haves to come back, and this includes Mr. Sean Avery. The Rangers have some young forwards such as Carl Hagelin and Ryan Bourque playing for the AHL Connecticut Whale now desperate for an opportunity to take the next step, junior sensation Christian Thomas as well as college star Chris Kreider who will hopefully leave Boston College and challenge for a role on one of the top Rangers lines next season. On the blue line, Tim Erixon figures to be a fixture back there for years to come, although he comes with a 1.75 million cap hit himself. The numbers really begin to add up from that 47 million don’t they?

Things can sure change in a hurry in the NHL and that certainly goes for what to expect for the New York Rangers in the upcoming years once this new NHL CBA is signed. All you hear about in the news is how lousy the economic times are and it is really difficult to believe the NHL salary cap won’t be lowered from 64 million a year. Looking at the recent NFL lockout that was resolved at the last minute and the current NBA lockout which possibly could cancel their season and perhaps even more, one thing we can only hope for as Ranger and NHL fans is for an easy peace and a quick, new, signed shiny Collective Bargaining Agreement. Without knowing this, it is truly is a difficult task trying to predict what the Rangers will do and look like beyond this season. I do think Sather finally “gets it” though. And, as long as the next CBA offers us a way to find rid Wade Redden from our lives I think we’ll be in good shape, and I feel very positive about the Rangers in the seasons ahead. First things first though. Let’s whoop up on the Florida Panthers tomorrow night and start a new winning streak and make it a very Happy Thanksgiving. Bring ‘em on.

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