Thursday, July 28, 2011

Let's play coach!

OK, so we've got a roster. I mean, there are some questions about who makes the team out of camp and who doesn't, but we've mostly got a roster we understand. Assuming nothing crazy happens at camp, like we discover that JT Miller is secretly Bobby Orr or that Brad Richards is secretly Colton Orr, we know what our pool of players to choose from is. So, let's make some lines. Forwards only, for now.

Here's what I think we ought to try:

Avery - Richards - Gaborik
Dubinsky - Anisimov - Callahan
Fedotenko - Stepan - Wolski
Rupp - Boyle - Prust

Here's what I think Tortorella is as likely to do as anything else, because I think he doesn't know how to keep lines together and doesn't like Sean Avery:

Dubinsky - Richards - Gaborik
Wolski - Anisimov - Callahan
Fedotenko - Boyle - Prust
Rupp - Stepan - Christensen

What do you think? What would you do?

Have you heard my new steam-punk band, Voytech and the Vole-skis?

Callahan for second-line right wing! Callahan for Captain! Callahan for President! Callahan for... one fewer year than we offered Dubinsky?!?

OK, fine, whatever, it's a slightly richer deal (cap hit of $4.275 to Dubi's $4.2), and it's only one fewer year. I'm hoping that, behind the scenes, it was taken into account that the shorter deal will leave Callahan up for negotiation a season that only Richards's, Dubinsky's, and Staal's contracts remain on the books, leaving him open to negotiate for more? I don't know, that's a theory I read somewhere, but I can't find the source anymore, so apologies to whomever I stole that idea from.

Anyway you guys, this means everyone's pretty much back, so now what? What about these rumors about a Wolski buyout? It seems that it's not likely to happen, to hear absolutely everyone tell the story. So let's take a look at the cap situation, then:

Forwards: Gaborik ($7.5m), Richards ($6,666,667), Callahan ($4.275m), Dubinsky ($4.2m), Avery ($1.9375), Anisimov ($1.875m), Boyle ($1.7m), Rupp ($1.5m), Fedotenko ($1.4m), Stepan ($0.875m), Prust ($0.8m)
Total: $32,729,167; 11 forwards

Defensemen: Staal ($3.975m), Girardi ($3.325m), McDonagh ($1.3m), Sauer ($1.25m), Eminger ($0.8m)
Total: $10.65m; 5 defensemen

Goalies: Lundqvist ($6.875m), Biron ($0.875m)
Total: $7.75m; 2 goalies

Other Bullshit: Drury's buyout hit ($3,716,667), Last season's cap overage ($0.527m)
Total: $4,243,667

That'll bring the total to $55,372,834, leaving $8,927,166 under the cap. But it also only accounts for 11 forwards and 5 defensemen. Here are some possible additions we could make to finish the roster out, and their respective cap hits:

Wolski - $3.8m
Zuccarello - $1.75m
Christensen - $0.925m
Hagelin - $0.875m
Erixon - $1.75m
Del Zotto - $1.0875m

Since an NHL roster is capped at 21 skaters (assuming 2 goalies), the above list includes one too many, and it puts us $1,260,334 over the cap. So, if we exclude Wolski, Zuccarello, or Erixon, we can afford everyone else. We couldn't, however, include Wolski, Zuccarello, and Christensen and still have room for Erixon and Del Zotto. These are, of course, solvable problems - we could carry fewer than the maximum roster size, etc.

People (myself included) are talking about buying out Wolski because it's hard to justify his $3.8 million cap hit in these circumstances, when we're paying $3.975 to Staal and $4.2 to Dubinsky. Buying out or trading Wolski surely will give us a ton of cap space. But, it looks like we've got the space to give him a shot, and if he makes the team better, we can afford that salary for this one remaining season on his deal. If, at training camp, he's not useful, we can always send him to Connecticut or bench him for a while.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Happy Because: Signed Eminger, 1 year for $800,000.

Sad Because: Prospal signed with Columbus. 1 year for $1.75 million, which is admittedly more than I would have offered him as a Ranger. Still, sad to see him go.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wait, but he said....

OK, so here is Larry Brooks's report on the Rangers' current cap situation. He says we have $10,201,500 left to sign Callahan, Eminger, etc. Wait, but, I said we have $6,966,666 left. How can this be?!?

Here's how:

1. Bonus overage from last season. On this point, I'm just wrong, I think. Here's the deal. Certain players are eligible to have performance bonuses written into their contracts. These are paid out only if they meet certain requirements during the season (like scoring 20 goals or playing 50 games or something). Because it is possible that the team will not end up paying them out, it is hard to figure out how to calculate their cap hit. So, here's what they do: a team is allowed to go above the salary cap, in total performance bonuses, by up to 7.5% of that season's cap. Then, if the team ends up actually paying out those bonuses enough to take them over the cap itself, the amount by which they go over is deducted from their following season's cap. So it all evens out.

Now, according to Brooks (and according to CapGeek, which cites Brooks as its source), the Rangers went over last season's cap by $527,000. I have done no math of my own to confirm this, and I'm not sure I have enough information to do so. Still, it's a reasonable figure, and it's not super-likely that Brooks would be wrong about it, so I'm gonna start using it. That brings my total figure down to $6,439,666.

2. Erik Christensen definitely counts against the summer cap, which I showed here is probably no longer as much of a concern as our season cap. But Brooks takes him out of the main cap calculation, as he's not a definite to make the team. I can't complain about that move. If you take Christensen's $925,000 salary out of Brooks's figure, it drops to $9,276,500.

3. I said I was making a bold assumption and including four two-way contracts in my figure: Stepan, McDonagh, Zuccarello, and Del Zotto. Brooks makes the same assumption about Step and McD, but not Zucc or DZ. To get up to his figure, I'll concede Zucc and DZ for now. However, notice that, even after Eminger and Callahan, the number will only include 18 skaters (18 play a night; our roster would be full at 21). Anyway, releasing Zuccarello's $1.75 million and Del Zotto's $1.0875 million brings my number up to $9,277,166.

So, with all those changes, why is my cap figure $666 higher than his? Rounding. He uses $6.667 million as his Richards figure and $3.717 million as Drury's. The actual numbers are $6,666,667 and $3,716,667, respectively. There's your remaining difference.

So even if we make his roster concessions, we're looking at $10,202,166 to sign Callahan and Eminger, but then only have 17 skaters. If we throw in Del Zotto, Zuccarello, and Christensen, we've got 20 skaters, and we've got $6,439,666 left for Cally and Eminger. So, we're okay, but we're a little tight. Which is why at the end of his piece, Brooks brings up the idea of buying out Wojtek Wolski's contract.

First of all, yes, they can do this. The Standard Player Contract states that there are two windows in which a team can buy out a player: 1) the period between June 15 (or the end of the Finals, whichever comes later) and June 30; and 2) if the team has any kind of salary arbitration pending, for the 48 hours following the resolution of their final arbitration. It's so teams can see what's up with their arbitrations before planning buyouts. So, the Rangers will have a small window in which to buy out Wolski's contract, beginning either when Callahan signs a contract or, if his arbitration happens, when it is resolved, and ending 48 hours later.

What would it mean? Well, Wolski is making $3.8 million under the cap this season, the final one of his contract. Because he is 25 (under 26, specifically), the buyout value of his contract will be 1/3 of the total remaining salary on it, which is $4 million. So the buyout value will be $1,333,333. That's spread over twice as many seasons as remain, for $666,667 per year. An additional calculation involves this year's salary vs cap hit. Don't worry about it, just trust me. His buyout cap hit would be $466,667 this season and $666,667 next season, as opposed to $3.8 million this season and nothing next season.

That might be a buyout worth doing. It saves us $3,333,333 on this season's cap and only costs us $666,667 next season. Then he can feel free to go find some team who will give him a more reasonable, $1.5 million deal. Hell, if he turned back around and signed with us for that, it would still save almost $2 million. Bear in mind that if this happens, next season's total buyout hit for Drury and Wolski (which will be the only other season they affect) will be $2,333,334 (Drury will definitely count for $1,666,667). I'm for it!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Steve Zipay confirms: 4 years, $4.2 million per year. My math gives us just under $7 million to sign Callahan, probably Eminger, and whomever else.

Happy arbitration-was-canceled day

Oh boy, and just in the nick of time, too. Long-term deal reached by the Rangers and Dubinsky. No details confirmed yet, rumor is 4 years at $4.2 million per year. I'm pretty sure that, like, 2 hours ago, I blogged the sentence "Surely the Rangers would have offered, like, 3 years at $4.2 million, no?" Fine, whatever, fuck it. We don't have to hear about more Brandon Dubinsky contract bullshit for the next 4 years.

I like this thing so goddamn much I'm linking to it a second time. I should embed it in a sidebar or something.

Happy arbitration day

Now Brooks is reporting that the arbitration offers are $2.8 million from the Rangers and $4.6 million from Dubinsky, and both sides expect the offer to come in between $3.8m and $4.4m. It's a 1-year arbitration, which makes a lot more sense to me than the 2 years I had heard. But I still don't get it. Dubinsky wanted $5+ million for a multi-year deal, and couldn't get it from the Rangers, so he let it go to arbitration, which is for a 1-year deal, where he requested $4.4 million? What? None of this makes any sense to me. I thought the original fight was over length of contract? By letting it go to arbitration, it becomes a one-year deal! Surely the Rangers would have offered, like, 3 years at $4.2 million, no?

Whatever, this whole thing is dumb. Here's this.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ruh-roh, Raggy

Hey, remember yesterday when I said this?

I hope you'll forgive me for getting a little nervous right now, given how long Dubinsky's contract negotiations lasted two years ago. I see no indication that Dubinsky's agent then, Kurt Overhardt, is not still his agent now.

Well, today, Larry Brooks tweeted this [sic]:

Unless theres dramatic shift, Dubinsky headed to arb on Thur, sides not close enough yet on longterm. Talks continue with Callahan, arb 7/28

Yep. Fantastic. Hey Kurt, let's try to have the guy at training camp on time this time around, eh?

OK, fine, I didn't want to have to fucking do this, but since it's clearly going to come up, let's talk about what arbitration actually means. Siiiiiiiiiiigh.

Dubinsky elected salary arbitration against the Rangers. That means he feels the qualifying offer extended to him as a restricted free agent ($2 million at a year - this figure is set by the CBA based on his 2010-11 salary and was not determined by the Rangers in any way) is insufficient given his level of play. Should the Rangers and Dubinsky reach a different agreement and sign a new contract before the arbitration (as they did with Sauer and Boyle), it will stand and the arbitration will not occur.

When they don't by Thursday, Dubi and the Rangers will have an arbitration hearing. A third party (one of 8 Salary Arbitrators agreed upon by the NHL and NHLPA for this off-season) will hear Dubi's salary recommendation, the Rangers' salary recommendation, and arguments about Dubi's overall value from both parties (what kind of evidence is or is not valid in these arguments is subject to a series of rules I don't care to understand right now). Because it was Dubinsky who filed for arbitration, the Rangers also get to elect whether it will be a one-year or two-year arbitration. I used the Magic of the Internet to get Newsday's Steve Zipay's opinion, and he expects they will go for two.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Arbitrator will elect a salary he or she feels is appropriate for Dubinsky. The salary will take all evidence, as well as both parties' starting offers, into consideration, but there is no restriction that the appointed salary must be between the two parties' starting offers: it could be more than Dubi asked for or less than the Rangers offered. The only rule is that it cannot be less than 85% of Dubi's salary last year (his was $2 million, so the salary is guaranteed to be at least $1.7 million). The Arbitrator may also override the Rangers' length request (one-year or two-year), but that is apparently unlikely to happen.

If the Rangers approve of the salary decision, then Dubi must also accept it. They will then sign a contract for the length determined (1 or 2 years), at that salary each year.

The Rangers do have the option, however, to reject the arbitration offer, subject to some restrictions. Generally, they must decide within 48 hours of the conclusion of the hearing. However, they are also restricted, as a team, by the total number of arbitration rejections they are allowed to make. Because they still have two players on their way to arbitration, the Rangers are permitted to reject only one arbitration offer. So, the Rangers are given until 48 hours after Callahan's hearing to determine whether or not to reject Dubinsky's result. That way they can choose where to spend their one rejection (the other offer would then have to be accepted). If the Rangers and Callahan come to terms before then, the Rangers of course lose the extra window of decision-making time.

Should the Rangers go ahead and reject the arbitration offer, if it is a one-year arbitration, Dubinsky immediately becomes an unrestricted free agent. If it is a two-year arbitration, they and Dubi are committed to a one-year deal at the arbitration offer, after which Dubi will be an unrestricted free agent.

I believe that at any point, the two sides can just reach an agreement independent of what the arbiter decides. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but if they decide on a contract after the hearing, but before the deadline for rejection (which, again, is extended due to Callahan's hearing next week), the Rangers could theoretically reject the offer, which would make Dubinsky an unrestricted free agent, freeing him up to turn around and sign the new deal.

However, that would spend the Rangers' one rejection for the off-season, thus committing them to whatever the Arbitrator decides in the Callahan hearing, should that come to pass. So it stands to reason they wouldn't want to do that until Callahan is resolved. Still, if I'm not mistaken, the two sides are only bound to the Arbitrator's decision if they can't come to some other terms, regardless of the timeline (until they sign the contract, that is). I think.

At the end of the day, the conclusion is some combination of "Dubinsky and Overhardt are once again playing hardball" and "Sather is once again undervaluing key components," though I'm inclined to lean a little more toward the former. Two years ago, those heels being dug in resulted in Dubi missing most of training camp, a stunted start to his season, and frustration on both sides (which I wouldn't be entirely surprised to learn is contributing to this year's issues). It's probably also a part of the reason a lot of Ranger fans don't consider him to be in the running for the big C on the sweater (the lower-drama Callahan is widely considered the front-runner). And all that was when Dubinsky didn't actually have any bargaining power (he was not eligible for arbitration: if he didn't accept a deal with the Rangers, he wasn't playing in the NHL at all).

I wonder what will come of it this time around.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Boyle, etc.

Sorry, work's been hectic. Here's the short summary. Boyle signed, 3 years, $1.7 million per year. Great! Cheaper than I expected him to come. Here's the quick-and-easy summary:

Under the summer cap, by my math, we've got $13,609,166 left to sign Callahan, Dubinsky, and whomever else we like. This relies on the assumption that our two-way contracts are costing us $2.5 million under the summer cap, which is an approximation I came up with and have not confirmed. We've already committed $2.4m to Cally and $2m to Dubi in qualifying offers, leaving us about $9.2 million to give them raises and sign whomever else this summer.

For the season's cap, let's make some bold assumptions to make things easy to understand. Let's assume we end up with four two-way contracts on the roster for opening night: Zuccarello, Stepan, McDonagh, and Del Zotto. That'd leave us with $11,166,666 to spend on Dubinsky, Callahan, and anyone else we sign. Again, $4.4 million is already committed to Dubi's and Cally's qualifiers, leaving about $6.8 million to give them raises and sign anyone else.

Because that second figure is lower, it's probably safer to use it (even though it's more ambiguous because it's based on who ends up on the roster). Even this lower number ($6,766,666 after Dubi and Cally's $4.4m) sounds like plenty of room to get done what we have to get done.

As for deadlines, Dubinsky's arbitration hearing is scheduled for this Thursday, while Cally's is a week later. There is no reason these deals shouldn't be done by then, but I hope you'll forgive me for getting a little nervous right now, given how long Dubinsky's contract negotiations lasted two years ago. I see no indication that Dubinsky's agent then, Kurt Overhardt, is not still his agent now.

That said, according to everyone who has said anything on the subject, we have every reason to expect these contracts to be signed before their respective arbitration hearings. Here's hoping!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Arbitration Dates

For the sake of being comprehensive, here are the arbitration dates for the remaining Rangers that have filed for arbitration (and have not since signed). This is the date on which that player's arbitration hearing would take place, if he and the Rangers do not agree to contract terms before then. If the hearing takes place, the player's agent will submit a value they believe is fair, and a third-party arbiter will make a determination of that player's actual value, likely somewhere between the agent's offer and the team's qualifying offer.

Should it come to that, the team has the option of whether or not to accept the arbiter's ruling for a one-year deal at that value. If they do, the player must accept the offer. If they do not, the player becomes a free agent.

We shouldn't see these dates as hearing dates just yet, though. Much more reasonable for now to think of them as deadlines. Arbitration hearings will go on only if the Rangers and the players do not reach deals first, which we should expect them to. So, for now, think of these as the dates by which Sather should have already signed these players, or else things will get kinda hairy:

Brandon Dubinsky (qualified at $2 million): July 21
Brian Boyle (qualified at $605,000): July 25
Ryan Callahan (qualified at $2.4 million): July 28

Oh Man Let's Do Some Numbers Today

It's Friday -- Friday. Gotta do math on Friday.

As you've probably heard, of the five restricted free agents we gave qualifying offers to (Matt Gilroy has since signed a 1-year, $1 million deal with the Lightning (a deal I'd be surprised if we didn't also offer him, but whatever)), the four who were eligible filed for arbitration: that's Dubinsky, Callahan, Boyle, and Sauer. Anisimov was ineligible. I wouldn't expect any of those people to actually hit arbitration: it's just another step before we offer, ideally, all 5 of those guys reasonable deals, and they all stay on.

As you may or may not have heard, step one of five happened this morning, and we signed Mike Sauer to a 2-year deal at $1.25 million per year. Awesome, perfect. Then, a few hours later, we agreed to terms with Anisimov: 2 years, $1.875 per. Sweet. Three to go. So, that, along with the Feds re-signing and the acquisitions of Rupp and Richards, put us in a place where we should, if you'll forgive the glorious double meaning, re-Cap.

First, recall the numbers we're working with: this season's cap is $64.3 million, which puts the summer cap at $70.73 million. Next, we look at the one-way contracts we've got on the roster, which count against the summer cap no matter what:

Marian Gaborik - $7.5 m
Brad Richards - $6,666,667
Wojtek Wolski - $3.8 m
Sean Avery - $1.9375 m
Artem Anisimov - $1.875 m
Michael Rupp - $1.5 m
Ruslan Fedotenko - $1.4 m
Erik Christensen - $0.925 m
Brandon Prust - $0.8 m

Wade Redden - $6.5 m
Marc Staal - $3.975 m
Dan Girardi - $3.325 m
Mike Sauer - $1.25 m

Henrik Lundqvist - $6.875 m
Martin Biron - $0.875 m

Chris Druries
Chris Drury - $3,716,667

That puts us at $52,920,834 currently tied up by one-way contracts under the summer cap. Of that, failing moving someone like Wolski, we can expect $46,420,834 to still be around under the season cap, when Redden's contract stops counting.

Then, we've got the two-way contracts. For each of these guys, I'll list their full potential cap hit for this season, followed by, in parentheses, what I am guessing their summer cap hit is. Unfortunately, summer cap hit is based on number of days the player was on the previous season's roster, which is data I don't know how to find. So, I'm basing it on games played. This is going to be inaccurate for everyone except Derek Stepan (who played 100% of last season, which is easy to calculate), but it's something.

Mats Zuccarello - $1.75 m (around $0.5 m?)
Derek Stepan - $0.875 m ($0.875 m)
Ryan McDonagh - $1.3 m (around $0.45 m?)
Michael Del Zotto - $1.0875 m (around $0.55 m?)
A bunch of other guys like Kris Newbury - various salaries (around $0.1 m?)

According to my Very Scientific Guessing, two-way contracts probably add up to about $2.5 million, give-or-take, against the summer cap. As for the season cap, we'll have to do a different kind of guessing, with respect to which of these guys makes the roster. Let's make the bold assumption that the four 2-way contracts I named will make it, and all achieve their performance bonuses, but no one else will. I know that's probably false, but it gives us at least a number to work with: $5.0125 million for those four dudes.

So, for all our currently-signed players, that brings us to a summer cap hit of something like $55,420,834, leaving us $15,309,166. As for the season cap, if we assume (Wolski,) Zucc, DZ, Step, and McD all make it (surely the latter two will), we've got a hit of $51,433,334, leaving us $12,866,666. Bear in mind that while the summer cap hit is pretty set in stone, we can do normal things to affect our season cap hit, like putting Del Zotto's or Zuccarello's cap hits back on the Whale.

And then there's the remaining free agents we need to sign. On the top of that list are our RFAs: Callahan, Dubinsky, and Boyle. We've extended qualifying offers to all four, which shake down as follows:

Ryan Callahan - $2.4 m
Brandon Dubinsky - $2 m
Brian Boyle - $605,000

That's $5.005 m we've promised in qualifying offers, but we can expect to offer all four of those players much healthier contracts than their qualifying offers demand - especially since they've all filed for arbitration. What that basically means is that, as the summer cap flies, we've got $60,425,834 tied up, leaving us $10,304,166 on raises to Callahan, Dubinsky, and Boyle, and anyone else we wanna grab.

My guess is that Callahan and Dubinsky's salaries will double, and Boyle's will do more than that, going up to like $2.5 m. If I'm right, that'd leave us $3,969,166 to work with over the summer, which is plenty of room for me to be wrong about my summer cap calculations, plenty of room for us to leave Del Zotto and Zuccarello on the roster for opening night if we want to, and probably some room left over to pursue another inexpensive free agent or two, if we feel the need.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Brad Richards

According to Darren Dreger, "Deal not signed, but Richards chooses Rangers." OK, now I guess all that's left is waiting to see how much other teams were able to drive up our contract with him, as expected...

EDIT: 9 years at 6.5 per. Good value, WAY too long.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A chronological children's treasury of my tweets today

--Wait, so then who the hell is signing Jagr? Sather, pony up! 1 year, $1 million! Why not?

--Flyers: "We have signed Handzus." Handzus's Agent: "Wait, what?"

--[Re-tweet from Larry Brooks] If I'm NYR I have Doughty offer sheet ready to go 1 minute after Kings sign Richards.

--Oh, good. Yet ANOTHER reason Pittsburghers are going to hate the second-best player in their franchise's history.

--So, Ilya Bryzgalov plus Jaromir Jagr = 9 million dollars?

--11.5 million too much for Carter+Richards; 9 million just right for Jagr+Bryzgalov. Also, boo Santa Claus.

--a crazy person is running the flyers.

--brian boucher to carolina is a GREAT deal for brian boucher and his family

--But if the Rangers land Mike Rupp, how will he score his only 6 goals a year against the Rangers?

--Mike Rupp: "It's a place I love playing on the road." Obviously.

--Seriously, I need to find Paul Holmgren's therapist and get him to prescribe for me whatever he's giving Holmgren.

--If Ville Leino is worth $27 million over 6 years, then I deserve at least a training camp tryout.

--Actually, if the Blue Jackets are paying Wisniewski for his lewd sign language skills, then I also deserve a training camp tryout.

--Darren Dreger says the Flyers are also making a pitch for Brad Richards. Do leprechaun gold and unicorn kisses count against the cap?

--[Re-tweet from Larry Brooks] All free agent signings in Winnipeg must pledge to buy most expensive season tickets for 10 years.

--Wacky free agent day. Tons of insane overpayments to mediocre players, none by Glen Sather. Great free agent day.

Mike Rupp

3 years, $1.5 million per year. I'm calling it a safety move. He is a mediocre player who is very dangerous when it comes to scoring goals against the Rangers. Now he can't do that anymore!