Following the signing of Chris Kreider to a two-year, $4.95 million contract, the New York Rangers have approximately $6.3 million worth of cap space remaining to sign their last two restricted free agents.
Defenseman John Moore made $900,000 last season, and he may not command a significant raise.
Center Derick Brassard, conversely, will.
And guess what, Ranger fans. Regardless of whether Brassard gets that raise, gets less money in arbitration, or receives the same $3.75 million salary he received last season, your team needs him. This is a major double-edged sword for the organization.
First, let’s put aside money for a moment. Right now, the No. 2 center on the Rangers’ roster is Dominic Moore. This is not meant in any way to disrespect Moore, but the truth is, he is not a No. 2 center in the NHL. In fact, he’s a No. 4 center at best, maybe a No. 3 on a bad team.
The other options the Rangers have at center besides Derek Stepan are as follows: J.T. Miller, a still-unproven prospect who did not impress coach Alain Vigneault last season, and Matt Lombardi, who spent last season in the Swiss league. And Lombardi will most likely play wing on the fourth line.
So no matter what the cost, the Rangers need Brassard more than ever, and his salary will severely deplete what the Rangers have left of their cap space.
In a previous article, I stated the importance of Lee Stempniak‘s basement-bargain contract. That importance now looms larger than ever.
After Brassard and Moore are signed, it is possible the Rangers may only have less than a million in cap space remaining. Unless general manager Glen Sather gets really bold and trades both Moore and Brassard away to free up space, the Rangers will have little to no flexibility for additional moves.
The Rangers are extremely thin at the center position. Whatever the cost, Brassard will complete the Rangers’ depth at center and severely deplete their cap space.
The Rangers have no choice but to accept this situation.