OK, so let's crunch some numbers on this season, for the Rangers. I've been wanting to do this for about 4 months, so indulge me. You might even learn something.
First of all, to make the math easy, I'm going to refer to every number as if this were a full season. All cap hits, and the cap, are pro-rated to the shortened length of this season, but multiplying every number here by the same percentage won't change the math any, and it will make things more complicated. So fuck that.
So, this season's cap is $70.2 million, which if I'm not mistaken is exactly what last season's cap was. It's hard to remember, as last season feels like it was about a decade ago. As you'd expect, the Rangers already have most of their roster locked down under contract. Where's that money going?
Returning Forwards (8 for $24,716,667): Gaborik (7.5); Richards (6.666667); Callahan (4.275); Boyle (1.7); Rupp (1.5); Kreider (1.325); Stepan (0.875); Hagelin (0.875)
New Forwards (5 for $11,650,000): Rick Nash (7.8); Taylor Pyatt (1.55); Arron Asham (fuck that guy) (1); Jeff Halpern (0.7); Micheal Haley (0.6)
Returning Defensemen (6 for $11,800,000): Staal (3.975); Girardi (3.325); Stralman (1.7); McDonagh (1.3); Eminger (0.75); Bickel (0.75)
Returning Goalies (2 for $8,175,000): Lundqvist (6.875); Biron (1.3)
That's a total of $56,341,667 on actual roster players, leaving $13,858,333 under the cap. Plenty of room. But there's some more to deal with.
First, as you already know, we have to pay off the final year of Chris Drury's buyout, for $1,666,667. Then, there's the new rule - the Redden Rule - that prevents salary burial in the AHL. The rule is that any one-way NHL contracts, even if the player is playing in the AHL and not on your NHL roster, still count against the cap. How much they count is still not publicly known, but it appears to be everything over the first $900,000 of the cap hit. That's the figure CapGeek uses, anyway. And it's a figure I believe. Redden's full NHL cap hit would be $6.5 million, so he'll be costing the Rangers $5.6 million under the cap this year, to play in Connecticut.
And then, there's the whole Michael Sauer thing. You should stop, in case you still are, asking whether or not Sauer will come back to the Rangers this season, and start asking if he's going to be healthy enough for a normal life - things are apparently really bad. With that said, we're here to talk about the cap, and Sauer is still under contract to the Rangers this season, for a hit of $1.25 million.
Drury, Redden, and Sauer add up to $8,516,667 for non-roster players, taking the Rangers' space down to $5,341,666. And then there are new contracts forthcoming. You'll note that the above player lists did not include noted favorite defenseman of this blog, Michael Del Zotto. He's still in contract talks with the Rangers (talks in which he has no leverage, as a restricted free agent not eligible for arbitration), and he reportedly wants a multi-year deal at over $3 million a year.
For reference, the New York Rangers pay Dan Girardi $3.325 million per year.
On what fucking planet is Michael Del Zotto worth what Dan Girardi is worth?
My paragraphs are becoming one sentence long to show how shocked I am by this idea.
Is it working?
Michael Del Zotto, your qualifying offer based on last season's salary should be $918,750 - maybe less, depending on a signing bonus. Least season, you were the least responsible defender on the team more nights than anyone else on the squad except Stu Bickel, who makes $750,000 to play 8 minutes a game and be 6'4". Where the shit-balls do you get off asking for Dan Girardi money, you deluded sociopath?
At any rate, $5,341,666 should be enough space to re-sign Del Zotto and sign camp invitee, once and future Ranger Matt Gilroy to a reasonable contract (~2 for DZ, ~1.5 for Gilroy?). But it doesn't leave the team very much wiggle room to make moves down the line.
But: There is a little more room than I presented here. First of all, Sauer will of course be on Long-Term Injured Reserve. This allows the Rangers to call up "replacement players" whose salaries add up to no more than Sauer's salary this season (which is also his cap hit, $1.25 million). So, for example, they could call Arron Asham a replacement for Sauer (which, frankly, would be textbook "adding insult to injury") because Asham's million-dollar salary is less than Sauer's, which means that, while Sauer still counts against the cap, Asham wouldn't. That would save the Rangers a million dollars under the cap.
Finally, there's the performance bonus cushion. Some of the above cap hits include performance bonuses - money that is only paid out if that player accomplishes some thing this season (number of games played, number of points, that kind of thing). Any potential bonuses count against the cap, until the accomplishments are no longer achievable. However, teams are permitted to go over the cap by those bonuses in the meanwhile (up to 7.5% of the total cap), and then if they end up getting paid out, that amount is docked from next year's cap. So, it's a last resort, as it's borrowing against the future, but it is technically some wiggle room.
The numbers above include, in performance bonuses, $637,500 for Kreider, $425,000 for McDonagh, and $187,500 for Hagelin, for a total of $1.25 million that the Rangers could theoretically borrow against next season (or, if things go badly for those players, not pay out at all).
This all means that, to sign Del Zotto and possibly Gilroy, and for future wiggle room, the Rangers have $5,341,666 free, plus about $2.5 million by which they can go over (1.25 for Sauer's replacement, 1.25 for performance bonuses). And now you know.