With two preseason games in the books, let’s take a quick look at the math and how one possible opening-night lineup for the Rangers stacks up against the $73-million salary cap.
Hint: They’ve got room to maneuver.
NHL teams must be salary-cap compliant by Oct. 11, before the first games of the regular season on Oct. 12.
Rick Nash: $7,800,000
Derek Stepan: $6,500,000
Chris Kreider: $4,625,000
Mats Zuccarello: $4,500,000
J.T. Miller: $2,750,000
Mika Zibanejad: $2,650,000
Kevin Hayes: $2,600,000
Michael Grabner: $1,650,000
Brandon Pirri: $1,100,000
Jesper Fast: $950,000
Jimmy Vesey: $925,000
Pavel Buchnevich: $925,000
Nathan Gerbe: $600,000
Marc Staal: $5,700,000
Dan Girardi: $5,500,000
Ryan McDonagh: $4,700,000
Kevin Klein: $2,900,000
Nick Holden: $1,650,000
Brady Skjei: $925,000
Dylan McIlrath: $800,000
Henrik Lundqvist $8,500,000
Antti Raanta $1,000,000
Total estimated cap charge: $69,250,000
In this scenario, assigning forward Tanner Glass (32, $1.4 million) to the AHL would mean an additional cap charge of $500,000, bringing the total to $69,750,000, leaving space of $3,250,000.
If that happens, the Rangers would have just four players over the age of 30: Lundqvist, 34; Nash and Girardi, 32, and Klein, 31. On opening night last season, they also had Dan Boyle (39), Dom Moore (35) and Jarret Stoll (33).
If center Oscar Lindberg, expected to be sidelined until November following hip surgery in May, is assigned to long-term IR, they would not be subject to his $650,000 cap hit until he returns.
Lindberg wouldn’t be eligible to play for 10 games. The Rangers 11th game is Nov. 3rd.
When he returns, the Rangers still would have to be cap- compliant. Or he could remain on IR, with his cap hit included. That latter option doesn’t seem to make sense given his timetable.
So the Rangers have much more wiggle room than last October, when they were about $200,000 under the $71.4-million cap. And they will have eight or nine different players on opening night against the Islanders on Oct. 13 than the group that kicked off the season a year ago.
They have the option of carrying a low-cost 23rd player as an eighth defenseman (Adam Clendening ($600,000, for instance) or a forward, although head coach Alain Vigneault referred to 13 forwards, not 14, on Thursday morning.
Center Josh Jooris’ ($600,000) groin injury, suffered early in the Islanders game, doesn’t help his chances, unless he is able to play well in some of the final four games, beginning Saturday against the Devils at Prudential Center.
The qualifier on all this? Another injury can change the landscape, and trades are also possible, changing the numbers in the next 10 days.