Josh Thomson, 26, and I are headed to breakup day today. We’ll have tweets (@rangersreport; @jthomson22) and audio and video and news and later on blog posts from there.
FYI, The buyout period began today and runs through June 30.
Also, Larry Brooks is reporting that Cam Talbot suffered a broken hand during warmups prior to Game 6 of the ECF.
My column from The Journal News and Lohud.com:
By Rick Carpiniello
Rangers general manager Glen Sather, his staff, and coach Alain Vigneault are going to have plenty of them to make coming off a run to the Stanley Cup Final.
It will be impossible to keep the entire team together under a $71 million salary cap next season. The Rangers have approximately $17 million in cap space and 13 players signed for 2014-15.
They also very likely will lose assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson, believed headed to Carolina as head coach under his buddy, new Hurricanes GM Ron Francis.
So trades aside, here is what looms in the next 15 days:
Brad Richards: The amnesty buyout clock is ticking, until June 30. The cap-advantage recapture penalty looms if the Rangers don’t use their final compliance buyout on the 34-year-old who assumed the captaincy in an unofficial capacity, played all 107 games, ran out of gas in the Final and was demoted to the fourth line. His nine-year, $60 million contract was designed to encourage him to retire before the final three years (at $1 million per) to bring down the annual average salary and cap hit.
He will get a contract from another team for less money, and he will not be easily replaced.
Rick Nash: People are complaining about his playoff performance again — now four goals in 37 playoff games as a Ranger, with no points in the Final. But it makes no sense to buy him out. He has a no-trade clause, he could be persuaded to waive it, and there would be a market for an in-his-prime, big, skilled forward and good team guy, despite his $7.8 million cap hit. It’s questionable, if not doubtful, that the Rangers want to make that move at this point. Prediction: Nash stays.
Restricted free agents: Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, John Moore and Justin Falk. The rare and long-shot chance of an offer sheet from another team aside, Sather has some work to do here. He has the leverage, but needs to tie up Brassard and Zuccarello long-term to avoid either potentially going unrestricted after next season. Kreider is entering a situation similar to Derek Stepan’s last summer. Stepan missed all of training camp and the preseason in a contract squabble. Prediction: All but Falk sign, though none will be easy or quick.
Unrestricted free agents: Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle, Dominic Moore, Benoit Pouliot, Daniel Carcillo and Raphael Diaz. It’s probably going to be impossible to keep all of them, even with the Richards savings.
The UFA market has gone nuts in recent years, and Stralman made a huge impression this season. He will probably get the same kind of money Ryan McDonagh makes ($4.7 million per) from another team if he gets to July 1. And with Marc Staal ($3.975 million) due to be unrestricted next season, the Rangers might not be able to keep Stralman.
Boyle, Moore and Pouliot all increased their values this season, and Boyle and Moore — two-thirds of a very effective fourth line since December, and terrific in the playoffs — are players Vigneault would love to keep.
But if Boyle wants $3 million or more per, that might be too expensive, and he will be coveted. Moore might come in for less than that. The Rangers can’t afford to lose both. Pouliot is going to be a tough sign, too, having played on the team’s most productive line all season. He’s got a journeyman rep, so his value may not be as high as it could be. If the Rangers are able to keep two of those three, they’d be doing well.
Carcillo is probably a goner, especially after his undisciplined suspension in the Eastern final, though he played very well in spots. Diaz would be a keeper, but only at a bargain price.
Photo by Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News.